Jake Johnson Politics

‘That’s Oligarchy’: Sanders Rips Billionaires for Trying to Buy Midterm Victories

Along with "Trump and his allies," Sen. Bernie Sanders said the richest people in the United States are "trying to undermine American democracy."
Bernie Sanders. [Shelly Prevost / CC BY 2.0]

By Jake Johnson | Common Dreams

Rallying for Pennsylvania congressional candidates Summer Lee and John Fetterman in Philadelphia on Sunday, Sen. Bernie Sanders ripped U.S. billionaires for pumping record-breaking sums of cash into the midterm elections in an effort to sway the results in their favor.

“It is not just Trump and his allies who are trying to undermine American democracy,” Sanders (I-Vt.) told the crowd gathered at Franklin Music Hall Sunday night. “You are living right now under a corrupt political system which allows billionaires to buy elections.”

The senator pointed specifically to the AIPAC-founded, billionaire-funded super PAC spending big to defeat Lee in Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District. Sanders also noted that billionaire Rick Caruso, a former Republican running to become the next mayor of Los Angeles, has poured $100 million of his own fortune into the California race.

“Billionaires are saying, ‘Hey, we own the country, we may as well own the political system, and I’m going to elect you and I’m going to defeat you.’ That ain’t democracy, that’s oligarchy,” said Sanders, who argued only a massive surge of voter turnout and transformative legislative action will be enough to counter billionaires’ influence.

Watch Sanders’ speech, which begins at around the 1:33:30 mark:

According to an analysis released last week by Americans for Tax Fairness, U.S. billionaires who have seen their wealth skyrocket during the coronavirus pandemic have spent nearly $900 million on federal elections this cycle, with significantly more going to Republican candidates than Democrats.

On Thursday, The New York Times reported that “political spending on the 2022 midterm elections will shatter records at the state and federal levels, with much of it from largely unregulated super PACs financed with enormous checks written mainly by Republican megadonors.”

“The American campaign finance system increasingly mirrors American society, with hundreds of thousands of small donors trying to keep pace with a billionaire class whose spending appears nimble and bottomless,” the Times continued. “While both parties have their billionaires, Republicans have many more. Of the 25 top donors this cycle, 18 are Republican, according to Open Secrets, and they have outspent Democrats by $200 million.”

With billionaires spending massively and election-denying Trump loyalists running for Congress and key positions at the state level, Sanders argued that the November 8 midterms are “about saving the foundations of American democracy.”

“Pennsylvania is one of three or four pivotal states in this country,” the Vermont senator said. “And this election will be close. So I’m asking you now, in the next few days, to do everything you can to vote, get your friends to vote, help elect John Fetterman, help elect Summer Lee, help elect Josh Shapiro, your next governor. And do everything you can to defeat Republican extremism.”

Looking beyond Tuesday’s vote, Sanders said, “Don’t think that it’s all over on Election Day, no matter what happens.”

“Your job is to have a vision,” he continued. “We are the wealthiest country in the history of the world. All over this world, people in country after country, people walk into the doctor’s office, they don’t have to take out their wallet, their credit card. All over the world, you have countries in which young people can get a higher education without having to go deeply into debt. People have paid family and medical leave. We can do those things, and we can do more.”

“We can do these things,” Sanders added, “if we have the guts to stand up to corporate greed, to stand up to a billionaire class that wants it all.”


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Jake Johnson
Jake Johnson

Jake Johnson is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

20 comments

    1. Yeah, he’s still giving his tired old ” billionaire” speech, and apparently people are still fooled by this charlatan.

  1. Hello Robert:
    I am sorry, but Bernie Sanders’ credibility is almost non-existent for millions of us. Zero for many.
    What he did in 2020 is almost unforgivable. He walked out on his supporters. With no explanation.
    He won the plurality in Iowa, NH and NV. Then he won CA and COLO — and walked. Why?
    Barack Obama told him to get out. The media called him a Nazi, and his supporters “Brown Shirts.”
    Bernie did not defend himself against these scumbags. He left his supporters twisting in the wind!!
    The Dem national party threatened to run a well-funded candidate against him in the next election.
    Or they threatened to prosecute his wife, Jane, for financial malfeasance at that liberal arts college.
    Whatever, the REAL reason, Bernie had the gall to tell his supporters to support Biden. What??!!??!!
    What happened to all those millions that we gave him? He had more money than anybody!@#%
    Robert, I still like the Bernie of 2016, where he almost took the nomination, but the Dems cheated him!
    In 2022, I quit listening to him. He needs to give his supporters the REAL reason for his 2020 actions.
    Why did a lifelong socialist and rebel in the Dem Party just quit and disappear. Why?
    We (his supporters) deserve an answer. A real answer!!

    1. Sanders was NEVER a real Socialist. He’s in the corner of the Capitalists and is pro-war. If you still support him, you need to rethink that support. He’s a fraud, like every single “progressive” in the Congress.

      1. First he raised our hopes that a politician believed in what he said and was not full of BS like most of them. Then he shredded our hopes by not doing the right thing and leaving the party when the Clintons and Obama screwed him and all the rest of us.Instead in 2020 when Clyburn and the rest of the putrid canidates rammed Sleepy Joe down our throats he was silent.He needs to give up and shut up. He has no credibility.

  2. I supported Bernie for President from the day, in 2013, when hinted on the Thom Hartmann Show.

    Bernie should have left the Democratic Party when the DNC cheated him out of the nomination in 2016.

    It is sad to watch him become the “Democratic Party Sheepdog” that many on the true Left always warned he was.

    1. Yeah, when I still bothered listening to that Dem Party apparatchik Hartmann, I heard Sanders that day too. The Dem Party is a dead-end, as are its supporters like Hartmann and Sanders. This should be abundantly clear by now.

  3. I supported Bernie for President from the day, in 2013, when hinted that he first hinted that he would run on the Thom Hartmann Show.

    Bernie should have left the Democratic Party when the DNC cheated him out of the nomination in 2016.

    It is sad to watch him become the “Democratic Party Sheepdog” that many on the true Left always warned he was.

  4. Let’s not pretend that Democrats aren’t funded by billionaires. And let’s not pretend that Democrats haven’t thrown the working class under the bus in order to get corporate money. It started with Bill Clinton and it hasn’t stopped.

    1. Exactly! Sanders just reads from the same script year after year, long after he’s been found out. Just another Dem Party mouthpiece.

  5. My wife and I gave plenty of money to Sander’s , “revolution campaign’.
    To say that we’re disappointed would be such an understatement.
    Bernie is a complete fraud and anyone that gives him the time of day. including this publication, does way more harm than good. I personally can’t stand looking at this complete phony.
    Please stop this nonsense.

  6. Sure Bernie. You and your buddies in the Democratic Party have done a stupendous job of helping the poor and powerless in this country by sending billions to fund a US proxy war in The Ukraine, thereby threatening the entire world with nuclear annihilation.

    Oh, and you stumped for War Whore Hillary after the DNC criminally cheated you. And now you’re still stumping for them. Is that what they call a ‘cuck’?

    … and, and you and your buddies get funding from the same sources as the Republicans.

    You’re just a sad and silly shell of what once pretended to be a possibility.

  7. AUCTION. DONT MISS THIS ONE. ONCE IN A LIFETIME.
    USA FOR SALE.
    NO RESERVE. UNIQUE OPPURTUNITY TO PURCHASE FREEHOLD.
    GREAT POTENTIAL.
    PRE-BIDS ARE CURRENTLY BEING RECIEVED.
    ALL WELCOME ( EXCEPT CHINESE & RUSSIANS)
    Further details contact any US Congressman/woman in Washington.
    Be Quick this one cant last.

  8. LOL. Bernie is such a hack. Oligarchs have spent way more on Democrats than Republicans for at least the past 12 years. Big Pharmacy gave Biden four times as much as they gave Trump.

  9. Perhaps congress needs to learn that it cannot serve two masters. And we should learn that we should not have abandoned our fate to an authority we cannot control.

  10. “Sorry, we don’t have the guts.”
    When more people know who the Bachelor is wooing than know who their own elected (but probably not by them) officials are, we are in big trouble.
    When more people are worried about someone else getting an abortion than they are about their own preparation for retirement or where their next wage boost is going to come from, we are in big trouble.
    When more people see the celebrity of political candidates but will not see their corrupted clay feet, we are in trouble.

  11. Sanders is asking people to do what he and the entire “progressive caucus”, including the so-called “Squad”, have repeatedly failed to do. Worse than that though, than not standing up to the Corporate, Militarism and Imperialism of the Democrat establishment elites, is the inescapable fact that they go along with it all. Not one single “Squad” member voted against sending more and more cash for which it is stipulated must be spent on American weapons and the Military Industrial Complex. Not one Democratic Senator voted against it. The only vote against coming from Rand Paul, a right-wing Libertarian. They even withdrew the most milquetoast, mildest of letters, merely suggesting that perhaps, maybe, of course along with the current proxy war policy of sending more weapons to Ukraine, that some small diplomatic soundings be taken. They wouldn’t even stand up for that and backed down at the first whiff of pushback. Spineless. Pathetic. Sanders? Silence. Crickets.
    One is reminded of Rosa Luxemburg who famously said, on August 4, 1914, that after the SDP – the Workers Party – voted to support the Aristocratic German Government in its Imperialist decision to go to war, that the party and supposedly leftist movement was now “a Rotting Corpse”. That, one can’t escape from concluding, is now also the state of the “Progressive Caucus and movement”, a Rotting Corpse.

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