Monday, October 13, 2014

Sanders: Good & Bad Billionaires?

"Both Parties Have Billionaire Donors."  

(March 14, 2016 update:  The following article was written in the runup to the 2014 Congressional midterm elections, before Bernie Sanders had announced any intention to run for President in 2016.  I'm reposting it due to all of the rhetoric about "billionaires".  Bernie Sanders himself made a distinction between good and bad billionaires a few years back. )     

OK, true..  But does that mean that "both parties are the same"?  Senator  Bernie Sanders (VT-I) doesn't seem to think so.

Sanders doesn't think the Democrats are doing enough (or are mad enough) at the way things are.. but it's clear from reading his comments in the article referenced below that he also knows the Democrats are quite different from Republicans, even when addressing such issues as "They both get a lot of money from Billionaires."
From Al JazeeraAmerica

In this excerpt from an inteview published October 6, 2014, at, Senator Sanders was asked about "good" vs. "bad" billionaires (emphasis mine):

Q - "Democrats have also been able to get plenty of billionaires donating on their side. Does that present similar issues? Or is it a case of Good Billionaires vs. Bad Billionaires? 
A - Let me respond in two ways. I think the media has said, “Both sides are getting money from the very rich.” The answer is yes and no. The truth is that the Republicans are receiving a lot more money from the very wealthy, from the Koch brothers alone—who I understand will put $400 million into this campaign—not to mention many other people. So it is not a question of equivalence. One side is getting far, far more from the very rich than the other side is.
On the other hand, I personally, very strongly, believe that we have to overturn citizens united. I don’t think that any billionaire, regardless of his or her politics, should be able to play a significant role in a campaign. It’s not what democracy is about.
The third point that I would make is that when people say, “The Democrats are getting money from very rich people,” is that it’s true, though the Republicans are getting a lot more. Then you have to ask yourself, “What are the rich people donating to the Democrats concerned about?” You have some billionaire out there who’s legitimately concerned about global warming. You know what? Global warming is one of the great planetary crises that we face and it must be addressed. What are the Koch brothers concerned about? Their concern is that we should use more and more fossil fuels, that we should build the Keystone Pipeline, that we should significantly weaken the Environmental Protection Agency, and, by the way, that we should cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and education. It’s not enough to say that there are billionaires on both sides. You’ve got to ask what they want.
At the end of the day, I personally want to see all billionaires unable to heavily influence campaigns. I want to see Citizens United overturned, and I want to see public funding of elections."

The Democrats are not perfect. 

Now Sanders is an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats.  It's interesting to read his thoughts about the Republicans vs. the Democrats.  He mentions several times that the Republicans are a far-right extremist party. 

His complaint about the Democrats?

"...the Democratic Party has not been as clear as it should be in making the American people aware of the fundamental economic issues facing this country and their willingness to fight on behalf of working families and take on Wall Street and corporate America."

Are the Democrats perfect?  I agree with Sanders:  They need to spend more time and money on message. But that's a minor complaint when compared to the Republicans.  The future of our democracy (and we are a democratic republic, no matter what the righties want to call us) is imperilled by the current philosophy, leadership, and financing of the GOP. 

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