by Bernie Sanders, published on February 24, 2016 at In These Times
In this 1995 column for In These Times, Bernie Sanders laments then-President Bill Clinton’s ties to corporate money—and lays out a progressive program that looks strikingly similar to his own 2016 presidential platform.
Written in January 1995, this never-before-published-online article by then-Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) assesses the first two years of Bill Clinton’s presidency, taking Clinton to task for not pushing hard enough for progressive goals including raising the minimum wage and economic stimulus spending. Sanders explains why, under Clinton, there was “virtually no organized and effective opposition to the American ruling class,” and criticizes the former president for his focus on welfare reform, crime and free trade as ways to “placate corporate America.”
Before we can analyze Bill Clinton’s presidency and its prospects, we must discuss the social context in which the Clinton administration is currently functioning.
For the vast majority of its people, the United States is becoming a poorer country. The standard of living of the average American worker continues to decline, people are working longer hours, and new jobs are often low-wage, part-time and without benefits. The average American is nervous and angry—and has every reason to be.
The rich are growing richer—and the power they hold over the economic and political life of the nation makes them ever more arrogant as well. No apologies are needed when millionaires and billionaires spend vast sums of money to buy elective office. No apologies are made when striking workers are permanently replaced. No apologies are even expected when profitable corporations “downsize” their workforces and replace full-time employees with “temps.” The wealthy have the power, and are fully prepared to use it for their own selfish ends.
Never before in American history has the mass media’s construction of reality been so divorced from the experience of the average American. Workers see with their own eyes the jobs in their communities being exported to Mexico and China, while television gives them endless hours of the O.J. Simpson trial. Working people see with their own eyes the corporate CEO earning 150 times as much as the line worker, while television gives them rapt descriptions of the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive strategy.
Continue reading Bernie Sanders in 1995: A Brutal Assessment of Bill Clinton’s First 2 Years as President