Burlington, Vermont— The campaign signs all say: “Paid for by Bernie 2016 (Not the Billionaires).”
That is a given with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the proud democratic socialist who decries plutocracy and oligarchy and proposes to tax Wall Street. Sanders is the presidential contender who is not looking to win the favor of the hedge-fund managers, bankers and CEOs who define and dominate American politics.
The whole point of the audacious bid that Sanders has now formally launched for the Democratic presidential nomination is to upset the calculus of American politics. “Today,” he declared at the opening of Tuesday’s announcement address, “we stand here and say loudly and clearly that; ‘Enough is enough. This great nation and its government belong to all of the people, and not to a handful of billionaires, their Super-PACs and their lobbyists.’”
The senator attracted more than 100,000 contributions in the average amount of $42, along with hundreds of thousands of volunteer commitments, in his first days as a contender.
How far that will get him remains to be seen, but Sanders says he seeks nothing less than a “political revolution”—a change sufficient not merely to propel him into competition with frontrunner Hillary Clinton but to shift the political dynamic in America.
At the heart of the matter is a determination to shift power away from what Sanders refers to as “the billionaire class.”
Sanders is ready to rip into the oligarchs and plutocrats with a fury Democratic presidential contenders have rarely mustered since the days when Franklin Delano Roosevelt bid for a second term by recounting that:
We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace—business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.
They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.
Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred.
Almost 80 years have passed since FDR uttered those words.