Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is the longest serving Independent in congress, and he's taking issue with how the United States is being run. He let his thoughts be known in an open letter calling for "political revolution."
Though Sanders points out that the economy is better than it was when George W. Bush left office six years ago, more people are living in poverty than ever. The gap between the rich and the poor is also larger than ever, with the top 0.1 percent of Americans have nearly as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent, according to the letter.
Sanders also claims that unemployment is underreported. Though national statistics indicate a 5.5 percent unemployment rate, he says the number is closer to 11 percent. He argues that a major federal jobs program would halt the decline of the middle class, which has been disintegrating for the last 40 years.
Sanders has introduced legislation that would invest $1 trillion over five years to fix the country’s infrastructure, while employing at least 13 million people.
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Sanders also advocates for raising the minimum wage and closing the pay gap between men and women. He also says all Americans should have access to healthcare and enough money to survive on Social Security, which is why he has introduced legislation to improve Social Security benefits until 2065.
Education is also tied to upward mobility, although student debt is higher than ever and many people cannot afford to attend college. Sanders plans to introduce legislation that would make public colleges and universities free, while lowering the interest rates on student loans.
Sanders points to the influence of money of corporations and billionaire individuals like the Koch brothers, who are able to freely fund political candidates and direct the flow of political discourse, including the discussion of climate change. The Koch brothers financially benefit from the fossil fuel industry and then put money into Republican campaigns.
“Our media system, owned by the corporate world, spends enormous time and energy diverting our attention away from the most important issues facing us,” Sanders writes. “Climate change threatens the planet and we have a major political party denying its reality.
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“Clearly, the struggle to create a nation and world of economic and social justice and environmental sanity is not an easy one. … Giving up is not an option if we want to prevent irreparable harm to our planet.”
He's asking people to “stand up and fight back.”
“We must launch a political revolution which engages millions of Americans from all walks of life in the struggle for real change,” Sanders concludes. “This country belongs to all of us, not just the billionaire class.”