Extending his critique of the American economy, Bernie Sanders weighed in on the "Brexit" vote over the weekend and this morning, arguing that the decision of the British people to leave the European Union is evidence that the global economy is failing the people at large while enriching the very few at the top.
"What this vote is about is an indication that the global economy is not working for everybody," Sanders said in an interview with MSNBC prior to the results of the vote.
"It's not working in the United States for everybody and it's not working in the U.K. for everybody. When you see investors going to China and shutting down factories in this country and laying off, over a period of many years, millions of people, people are saying you know what, global economy may be great for some people but not for me."While Sanders is often portrayed as a radical in the American media, many of his ideas are quite mainstream, as is his view that the American economy is "rigged" to benefit the few at the expense of the many.
Increasingly, Americans feel the need to act on widening inequality, and the success of the Sanders campaign is a reflection of this view.
But as Bernie Sanders has emphasized, inequality is far from a uniquely American phenomenon — its reach is global.Though many have been quick to condemn those who voted in favor of "Brexit" as reactionary xenophobes, one cannot ignore the fact that millions are rightly frustrated by an economic system that they feel is being manipulated by disconnected elites at the expense of the rest of the population.
According to a recent report by Oxfam, 62 people own as much wealth as the poorest half of the world's population combined.
"The richest can no longer pretend their wealth benefits everyone — their extreme wealth in fact shows an ailing global economy," said Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam's International Executive Director. "The recent explosion in the wealth of the super-rich has come at the expense of the majority and particularly the poorest people."
This economic order is not only harmful to the poorest, but also to the middle class, which has seen its position in society dwindle as the rich get richer and the poor are pushed further downward.
Such a scenario, Bernie Sanders contends, fuels massive resentment of establishment politics, and this resentment can be directed in many ways.
One way is the approach taken by Donald Trump and those who espouse similar views throughout Europe. These figures provoke populist outrage and use it to fuel hatred of immigrants and minorities.
Others, like Sanders, have seen this growing outrage as a way to challenge the economic status quo that dictates the rules of the global economy and to begin reforming governments in such a way that benefits the population as a whole, and not just those resting comfortably at the top of the income scale.
Speaking to Jake Tapper on Sunday morning, Sanders reiterated his assessment of the "Brexit" vote.
"I think there is massive resentment throughout Europe and the U.K. and in the United States about a global economy which works very, very well for large multinational corporations, who are able to shut down in this country and go to China and Mexico and hire people there for very low wages," Sanders said.The fundamental problem, Sanders contends, is that the economy "is not working in many ways for the middle class and working families."
This problem ultimately found its way into the "Brexit" debate, and undoubtedly swayed the outcome.
"What ordinary people are saying is, hey, get an economy that works for all of us, and not just the people on top," Sanders said. "And I think that is to a significant degree what this Brexit vote was about."
A new report by the International Monetary Fund in many ways agrees with Sanders's call for serious change to address the crisis of poverty in the United States, as well as in other rich nations that have adequate resources, but that distribute them in such a way that is unfair and immoral.
The report found that one in seven Americans live in poverty and insisted that the government take steps to address the "urgent" needs of millions.
The campaign of Bernie Sanders has expressed this necessary sense of urgency, arguing, ultimately, that politics and economics as usual are not enough to solve crises as widespread as those faced by nations around the world. Radical solutions — to use the phrase of the Sanders campaign, a "political revolution" — are necessary.