Poll after poll shows that the American people are united in their angry and frustration with the status quo. They sense, correctly, that the deck is stacked against them. While millions of people are working longer hours for lower wages, almost all new income is going to the top 1 percent. While people in the middle class pay their fair share of taxes, multi-national corporations avoid their tax responsibility by running abroad or taking advantage of loop-holes. While young people study hard to get a college education, many of them leave school with crippling debts that severely impact their futures.
Over and over again the “pundits” and the media tell us how politically divided the American people are, and how we are drifting further and further apart into red and blue states. Frankly, I don’t believe it. Yes. There are significant divisions on a number of issues, but on many of the most important challenges facing the middle class, progressives, moderates and conservatives are surprisingly united. We should build on that unity, and not allow powerful special interests to divide us.
Despite the media’s insistence that the country is irreparably divided, let me give you just a few examples of where the American people are largely united, not divided.
The overwhelming majority of Americans believe that our democracy is being undermined when billionaires can spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections. Despite Supreme Court rulings to the contrary, people across the political spectrum understand that buying elections is not "freedom of speech," and that there should be strong limits on campaign spending.
The overwhelming majority of Americans believe that the middle class of this country is disappearing and that real unemployment is much too high. They very much want the federal government to play a strong role in creating decent paying jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure (roads, bridges, rail, water systems, waste water plants, airports, etc.) and by making higher education much more affordable.
The overwhelming majority of Americans believe that the growing wealth and income inequality we are seeing poses a serious threat to the future of our country. They are deeply concerned that 95 percent of all new income generated in recent years has gone to the top 1 percent, and that the United States has, by far, the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country. They very much support tax reform which asks the wealthy to start paying their fair share of taxes, and which eliminates huge tax loopholes enabling one out of four corporations to pay nothing in federal income taxes.
The overwhelming majority of Americans believe that the social safety net that has been established in this country over the last 80 years is vital to the well-being of working families, the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor. At a time when more Americans are living in poverty than ever before, they strongly oppose proposed cuts in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, veterans' benefits and federal aid to education. In fact, they support expanding Social Security benefits.
A strong majority of Americans believe that global warming is real and poses a serious threat to our country and planet. They want the federal government to limit carbon emissions and to move forward aggressively in such areas as energy efficiency and sustainable energy.
Let’s be clear. Elections have real consequences in terms of whether we create decent paying jobs, have pay equity for women, provide health care for all and address the planetary crisis of global warming – among many other issues.
The billionaire class fully understands the importance of politics and governmental decisions. That’s why a handful of them are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into the current elections. Their goal is simple: they want policies which make the rich even richer at the expense of everyone else.
We can’t let them get away with that. Let’s stand together. Let’s create a government which works for ALL Americans, and not just the wealthy few.Senator Bernie Sanders P.O. Box 391 Burlington, VT 05402
In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule -- at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the U.S. political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it. Gilens and Page
The immediate effect of the money-and-media election complex is to encourage election campaigns, like those in 2012, that do not even begin to address the societal pathologies afflicting the people of the United States. The trillion dollars spent annually on militarism and war is off-limits to public review and debate. Likewise, the corporate control of the economy and the corporate domination of government itself get barely a nod. Stagnation, gaping economic inequality, growing poverty, and collapsing infrastructure and social services—major issues all—are accorded nothing more than the market-tested drivel candidates say to get votes. The existential threats posed by climate change and nuclear weaponry are virtually off-limits as campaign-season issues; whole debates that are supposed to go to the heart of domestic and global concerns pass by without mention of them. The drug war, which has created a prison-industrial complex so vast that the United States has a greater percentage of its population imprisoned than any other nation in history, is not to be mentioned—except when obviously engaged and concerned citizens force the issue onto the ballot via the initiative process." Dollarocracy: John Nichols and Robert W McChesney
In essence, broadcasters are now profiteering from a vicious circle of corruption: Politicians are beholden to big donors because campaigns are so expensive, and campaigns are so expensive because they're fought through television ads. The more cash that chases limited airtime, the more the ads will cost, and the more politicians must lean on deep-pocketed patrons. In short, the dirtier the system, the better for the bottom line at TV stations and cable systems." Tim Dickenson, Rolling Stone, 8/6/2012
"If you wonder why the United States is the only country in the industrialized world not to have a national health care program, if you're asking why we pay the highest price in the world for prescription drugs, or why we spend more money on the military than the rest of the world combined, you are talking about campaign finance. You are talking about the unbelievable power that big-money interests have over every legislative decision." Senator Bernie Sanders (Vt)
"a more democratic distribution of communicative power within the public sphere and a structure that provides safeguards against abuse of media power provide two of three primary arguments for ownership dispersal. It also shows that dispersal is likely to result in more owners who will reasonably pursue socially valuable journalistic or creative objectives rather than a socially dysfunctional focus on the 'bottom line'." C. Edwin Baker: Media Concentration and Democracy, why Ownership Matters
In a world where America has no remaining industrial state enemies capable of doing it military harm, Washington is now locked in a state of perpetual war. That ultimately bankrupted Rome. Why should this time be any different?" David Stockman