I came across an internet meme the other morning that had me smiling the rest of the day. It was a photo of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) holding forth from the well of the Senate with a caption that read, “For Every Major Mistake America Has Made In The Last 30 Years, There Is A Video Of Bernie Sanders Trying To Stop It.” I have not performed a comprehensive analysis, but given the ubiquity of Sanders videos since the 2016 election, and since his recent declaration as a 2020 presidential candidate, the meme probably contains more than a grain of truth.
This video is one of the many Sanders videos that bolster this theory. In this interview with Sanders conducted by Truthout reporter Geoff Millard back in 2007, the Vermont senator holds forth on a number of the pressing topics of the day. Twelve years later, however, Sanders’s words are surprisingly apt in describing the current situation, as well, given Donald Trump’s aggressive ignorance regarding his legal responsibilities, and the ongoing national crisis of money in politics and media.
On opposing Michael Mukasey, George W. Bush’s nominee for attorney general: “To my mind, we want an attorney general who not only understands that torture is not what America is about, but equally important, understands that the president cannot simply claim that he is fighting terrorism and give the president all of the powers that this president wants. We need an attorney general, in fact, who will educate the president of the United States about the Constitution, because clearly this president doesn’t understand it.”
On corporate welfare: “We give tax breaks to billionaires and we don’t fund the needs of children in terms of health care. That’s because of the power of Big Money and their lobby. That is the fundamental reality of Washington, D.C.”
On activism and politics: “It means being involved in the deepest sense in the political process, which by the way does not just mean only voting every two years or every four years. It means organizing, it means educating, it means addressing the issue of corporate control over the media, and that’s what we’ve got to think about. What you have is a nation increasingly owned by fewer and fewer people who use their wealth not just to buy big yachts — that’s the least of the problem — they use their money to buy politicians, they use it to buy media, to influence what other people think. Those are some of the issues that we have got to address, and the solutions are not going to happen tomorrow. But we need a strong grassroots movement because I think the vast majority of the people want to see fundamental changes take place in Washington D.C., and they want us to stand up to these very powerful forces who represent a very small number of people.”
Score one for the meme.