Everything is pointing toward a Bernie Sanders presidential campaign… And only Elizabeth Warren can stop it

    Berniesanders3

    For the past several weeks, one of my favorite people, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, has been publicly floating the idea that, if no other strong progressives, like Elizabeth Warren, come forward to announce a run for the presidency in 2016, he’d consider doing it himself. Someone, according to Sanders, needs to address the collapse of the middle class, global warming and the widening gap between rich and poor in our country. (The quote accompanying the above photo comes from a recent interview in the Burlington Free Press.) Well, perhaps in prelude to an official announcement of some kind, Sanders took to Reddit yesterday evening to answer questions and rile up those of us who are tired of voting centrist Democrats into power who, in spite of their rhetoric, never really stand up and fight when we need for them to. Following are some of my favorite excerpts. If you like what you see, follow this link, read the whole thing, and start squirreling away money for his campaign. He’ll need it.

    How can the bottom 99% gain control of daily life in America?

    The fact of the matter is that tragically this country is moving toward an oligarchic form of society in which a handful of billionaires have enormous power over the economic and political life of this country. I am extraordinarily concerned about the obscene level of income and wealth inequality, which is worse today than at any time since the late 1920s. Further, it is totally absurd that in recent years the top 1 percent have earned 95 percent of all of the new income created in America. In order to turn this around, we need a level of grassroots activism that we have not seen for many decades. We need 10s of millions of people to become actively involved in the political process and to demand that Congress and the president respond to their needs and not just the needs of billionaires and large campaign contributors. So in a variety of ways we need to educate, we need to organize and we need ordinary people to get politically involved.

    The current capitalistic system is considered a failure by many whether because it is crash prone, the disparity between rich and poor, or a large number of other reasons. What would be the three main things you would change about the current system?

    I applaud the recent statements by Pope Francis, in which he levels strong and appropriate criticism of unfettered capitalism. No. 1, we need to invest significantly in the social safety net to make sure that every person in this country lives with dignity. It is an international embarrassment, for example, that the U.S. has, by far, the highest rate of childhood poverty in the industrialized world. No. 2, we need to move toward a national health care system which guarantees health care to all as a right and which, in fact, would be much more cost effective than the current dysfunctional system that we have. No. 3, we need to move toward a system of progressive taxation which makes certain that the wealthiest people in this country and the largest corporations start paying their fair share of taxes. Finally, we need real campaign finance reform which stops big money from buying elections.

    As one of the few who did not vote for the Patriot Act, how do you feel about the recent public outcry over the NSA and spying from the Snowden leaks? Do you feel we could pass legislation to overturn some of the things in the Patriot Act?

    Not voting for the USAPatriot Act was one of the better votes that I’ve ever cast. In my view, the NSA is out of control and is very clearly acting in an unconstitutional manner. Terrorism remains a serious issue and we must do all that we can to protect the American people, but we don’t have to do it through a massive invasion of privacy rights or undermining the constitutional rights of the American people. I am going to be working as hard as I can to pass the strongest legislation possible to end the abuses of the NSA and other intelligence agencies. If we are a “free country,” then we cannot have the U.S. government, or for that matter the private sector, invading the privacy rights or our citizens.

    What steps do you think the United States must take in order to have a sensible energy policy and mitigate the threat of global warming as much as possible? What do you think of President Obama’s environmental policy so far? Has it been sufficient?

    The scientific community is telling us, loud and clear, that global warming is the most serious planetary crisis that we face. If we do not get our act together, and transform our energy system there will be more floods, more drought, more extreme weather disturbances and higher food prices. Along with Senator Barbara Boxer, I have introduced the strongest and most comprehensive global warming legislation ever written. Among many other proposals, it includes a tax on carbon and significant funds to move aggressively to energy efficiency and sustainable energy.

    Linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky often talks about the importance of workplace democracy and trying to create a decentralized socialism (often referred to as libertarian socialism ). In other words, a democratic economy based on cooperatives and more participation at the local level. What are your thoughts on this? Do you agree that there should be more focus on things like worker ownership etc. and creating a more participatory democracy?

    I agree. Democracy is not just the right to vote every two years. It also means having an impact on your job and where you work. For millions of Americans, a job means not only inadequate wages but also no control over how they spend 40 hours a week of their lives. They are, in truth, cogs in a machine over which they have no power. In Vermont, we have made modest progress in the concept of worker ownership and companies with have strong employee stock ownership plans. When I visit those companies, where workers really do have a say over the nature of their job it is clear to me that those workers feel much better about their work life. I have also introduced legislation which would make it easier for businesses to sell their companies to their own employees.

    What is the solution to giving Washington DC back to the Voters and giving big money and lobbyists the boot?

    If you are concerned about the economy, health care, the environment, women’s rights or any other issue you must be concerned about the disastrous situation regarding campaign finances. For many years, big money has had enormous power over what goes on in Congress and the White House. The horrendous Supreme Court decision in Citizens United made a bad situation much, much worse. We now have the extraordinarily undemocratic situation by which billionaire families like the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson and others are able to contribute hundreds of millions of dollars into the political process and to elect the right-wing candidates they support. Nobody I know, and this goes across the political spectrum, believes that American democracy is about billionaires being able to buy elections. Short term, we need a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and I and Rep. Ted Deutch have offered what I think is a very strong amendment. Further, we need to pass public funding of elections so that working people and middle-income people can participate in the political process and run for office without being dependent upon wealthy benefactors.

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      11 Comments

      1. Edward
        Posted December 18, 2013 at 9:27 am | Permalink

        While I’d love to see Sanders in the debates, I’d much rather have Elizabeth Warren there. No offense to Sanders, but I think she’s got a better chance of actually winning. Ideally, though, we’d have both in the primary, pulling Hillary further to the left.

      2. anonymous
        Posted December 18, 2013 at 10:08 am | Permalink

        Hillary would hate an Elizabeth Warren run. She can handle Bernie. She couldn’t handle Warren.

      3. Community Olive Garden
        Posted December 18, 2013 at 11:08 am | Permalink

        He also has an interview in the November issue of Playboy. I tried to find you a scan online, but this excerpt is the best that I could do.

        http://www.taylormarsh.com/2013/10/bernie-sanders-playboy-hypercapitalism-system/

      4. josh
        Posted December 18, 2013 at 11:13 am | Permalink

        Not that I care that much, but would he run as a Democrat?

        This clearly isn’t about winning and that’s probably a good thing. I think Sanders does more good in the Senate than he would in the White House where there is overwhelming institutional inertia.

      5. Mr. X
        Posted December 18, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

        I’ll be voting Green no matter who the Dumocrats put forward.

      6. Mr. X
        Posted December 18, 2013 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

        Now that there are 2 Mr. Xs here we should try to differentiate ourselves. Maybe you could use italics. As for Bernie, I’m not sure how he’d approach it. My guess, though, is that he’d like to be in the primary debates, which would mean running as a Democrat.

      7. Mr. X
        Posted December 18, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

        Also I’ve heard him say he wouldn’t run if he didn’t think he had a chance of winning. He doesn’t just want to be there, in other words, to push the agenda. At least that what he says.

      8. 734
        Posted December 18, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

        If having Bernie in the race means that Warren won’t be there, I won’t like it one bit.

      9. Raw
        Posted December 19, 2013 at 9:40 am | Permalink

        I get angry every time I see his face. It’s not that I dislike him. It’s just that he reminds me that I’ve got Debbie Stabenow representing me in the Senate. Vermonters have a lot to be thankful for.

      10. Aaron
        Posted December 19, 2013 at 9:43 am | Permalink

        He has my vote.

      11. alan2102
        Posted December 22, 2013 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

        “those of us who are tired of voting centrist Democrats into power who, in spite of their rhetoric, never really stand up and fight when we need for them to. ”

        There’s zero evidence so far that anyone is tired of voting for (smooth-talking) far-right Democrats who have NEVER displayed the slightest willingness to “really stand up and fight” for us.

        ……………………………………………

        http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/12/20/the-incredible-shrinking-presidency-of-barack-obama/

        Weekend Edition December 20-22, 2013

        Slip Sliding Away
        The Incredible, Shrinking Presidency of Barack Obama
        by MIKE WHITNEY

        snip

        Obamacare is just the straw that broke the camel’s back. The list of policy disasters that preceded this latest fiasco is nearly endless, including everything from blanket pardons for the Wall Street big-wigs who took down the global financial system, to re-upping the Bush tax cuts, to appointing a commission of deficit hawks to slash Social Security and Medicare (Bowles-Simpson), to breaking his word on Gitmo, to reneging on his promise to pass Card Check, to expanding to wars in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, to droning 4-times as many civilians as the homicidal maniac he replaced as president in 2008.

        Obama’s treatment of undocumented immigrants has been particularly shocking although the details have been kept out of the media, presumably because the news giants don’t want to expose the Dear Leader as a heartless scoundrel who has no problem separating mothers from their children, locking them up in privately-owned concentration camps and booting them out of the country with nothing more than the shirt on their back. Check out this blurb which sums up Obama’s “progressive” immigration policy in one paragraph:

        “Obama is on track to deport 3 million immigrants without papers by the end of his second term, more than any other president. George W. Bush deported about 2 million over two terms. Obama will likely hit that mark this month….. The average daily count of immigrants in detention now is about 33,000. In 2001, it was 19,000. In 1994, it was 5,000, according to the Detention Watch Network. Almost all of the detainees and deportees are Latino. True, the population of illegal immigrants has also doubled in that time to more than 11 million. But the detainee and deportee counts have escalated more than twice as fast.

        “He could go down as the worst president in history toward immigrants,” said Arturo Carmona, executive director of the liberal activist group Presente.org.

        Hooray for the Deporter in Chief! You’re Numero Uno, buddy. You even beat Bush! Is it any wonder why the man’s ratings are in freefall?

        All told, Obama has been bad for the economy, bad for civil liberties, bad for minorities, bad for foreign wars, and bad for health care. He has, however, been a very effective lackey-sock puppet for Wall Street, Big Pharma, the oil magnates, and the other 1% -vermin Kleptocrats who run the country and who will undoubtedly attend his $100,000-per-plate speaking engagements when he finally retires in comfort to some gated community where he’ll work on his memoirs and cash in on his 8 years of faithful service to the racketeer class.

        snip

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