Bernie Sanders Pens A Searing New York Times Op-Ed Calling On The Democratic Party To ‘Wake Up’

On Tuesday, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders penned an op-ed in the New York Times, arguing, in essence, that the Democratic Party must wake up to the realities facing working people around the world or risk being tossed aside by the right-wing demagogues on the rise in both the United States and Europe.

Reflecting on the recent “Brexit” vote, Sanders argues that political and economic elites, including the Democratic Party of the United States, have become disconnected from the lives of the people they purport to represent.

“Workers in Britain, many of whom have seen a decline in their standard of living while the very rich in their country have become much richer, have turned their backs on the European Union and a globalized economy that is failing them and their children,” Sanders wrote.

Globalization, the Vermont senator argues, is cultivating a system in which elites dictate the rules from which they ultimately benefit, creating a cycle that enriches the few at the expense of the many.

Sanders points to a recent study conducted by Oxfam, which found that the 62 wealthiest individuals in the world own as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population, combined.

“The very, very rich,” Sanders writes, “enjoy unimaginable luxury while billions of people endure abject poverty, unemployment, and inadequate health care, education, housing and drinking water.”

In Sanders’s view, such a system fosters discontent that cannot be ignored. But in the United States, it seems that the Democratic Party and its leaders have ignored it, and they are leaving the culture vulnerable to demagogic backlash.

Sanders recounts his long and, to many, surprisingly successful campaign for the presidency, during which he witnessed “painful realities that the political and media establishment fail even to recognize.”

Because they feel they are being ignored, ordinary citizens have become resentful of the establishments — Democratic, Republican, or otherwise — that govern their nations.

Throughout his campaign, Sanders has attempted to offer an inspiring alternative to this resentment, urging people to participate in the political process and to fight for changes to the status quo that lift the living standards of millions which helping to rebuild failing schools, crumbling infrastructures, and damaged communities.

We should, Sanders argues, create a system that provides opportunities and assists those in need. Instead, economic and political elites have created a framework within which wealthy sectors of the population dominate the political process, shaping the rules to their advantage.

The results of such a system are predictable enough.

“In the last 15 years, nearly 60,000 factories in this country have closed, and more than 4.8 million well-paid manufacturing jobs have disappeared. Much of this is related to disastrous trade agreements that encourage corporations to move to low-wage countries,” Sanders notes.

Furthermore, “Nearly 47 million Americans live in poverty.”

Many millions are without adequate healthcare. Workers are forced to cope with stagnant wages. And even middle-class families are now anxious about their ability to put their kids through college, especially given the prospect of massive student loan debt looming overhead.

“The global economy,” Sanders observes, “is not working for the majority of people in our country and the world.”

But the answer is not someone like Trump, who channels many legitimate grievances and uses them to spark anti-immigrant and racist hysteria. And it is also not a Democratic Party that has helped to pass trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement, destroy welfare, and deregulate Wall Street.

No, the answer for Sanders is a system that brings people together against the interests of the institutions and corporations that have captured government, a system that responds to the material needs of the population at large.

“The notion that Donald Trump could benefit from the same forces that gave the Leave proponents a majority in Britain should sound an alarm for the Democratic Party in the United States,” Sanders concludes. “In this pivotal moment, the Democratic Party and a new Democratic president need to make clear that we stand with those who are struggling and who have been left behind.”

[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]

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