Bernie Sanders speaking at BookExpo
A talk by Hillary Clinton in advance of her book What Happened was the main event at last year’s BookExpo trade show at New York’s Javits Center, and this year it was her Democratic primary campaign rival Senator Bernie Sanders, at last night’s An Evening with Senator Bernie Sanders talk before book dealers at the Main Stage.
Sanders gave a taste of his forthcoming book Where We Go From Here, to be published by Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press immediately after the November midterm elections. The book, he said, is about what he’s been doing since the 2016 election in opposing the Trump agenda and strengthening the progressive movement, and moving forward as a nation--but “don’t tell the publisher I’m a little behind,” he said, rather conspiratorially, at the start of his talk.
His ensuing comments centered on his campaign call for “a political revolution,” and were delivered with the urgency of that campaign’s message. “Real change never comes from the top on down,” he said, “despite what the media thinks. It’s not about [one] person.”
He noted that the labor, civil rights, women’s, gay rights and environmental movements had not succeeded because “one person was so smart to do it all.“ Rather, “political revolution is about looking at what’s happening in America today, and asking if we’re satisfied with the way we’re moving day-by-day to an oligarchic form of society [where] a handful of extremely wealthy people control the economical and political life of the country.”
The three wealthiest Americans “own more wealth than the bottom half” of the country, Sanders said.
“Maybe that’s something wrong, and maybe we can create an economy that works for all of us instead of [the top] one percent.”
He railed against the “disastrous” Citizen’s United Supreme Court ruling for “undermining democracy” by allowing “people like the Koch brothers” unlimited spending to elect candidates representing the wealthy and powerful, then moved on to the issue of criminal justice reform. He credited groups including Black Lives Matter for the “radical change” in the way people see criminal justice, often in the light of “punishing people for the crime of being poor.”
Regarding a “painfully hard to talk about” subject, Sanders noted that while he is a Second Amendment supporter, “people are appalled and disgusted by the gun violence” in schools across the country—for which he castigated the NRA, Congress and the president for refusing to act. He also used the issue as an example of one where a majority of the country is united and not polarized to the extent that the media makes out.
Citing “the incredible degree to which Congress ignores the will of the American people,” Sanders said that he’s been traveling all over the country, mostly in states that President Trump won.
“Trump lied to the American people during the campaign when he said he’d stand with working families,” he said. “More than any administration in history, [his is] loaded with billionaires,” while promoting “programs [that are] geared to benefit the rich.”
So Sanders urged people, in order to “revitalize democracy,” to get involved in the political process and fight for the progressive agenda he championed in his campaign. He noted that many candidates are running on that agenda today, and that change is clearly taking place at the grassroots level.
“You are not able to push the agenda unless elected officials are there to implement it!” he concluded.