Bernie Sanders discusses money in politics with Bill Moyers

September 9, 2012 | By | Reply More

On its program of September 7, 2012, Moyers & Co. presented a detailed no-nonsense conversation between Bernie Sanders and Bill Moyers on may critically important issues. Mr. Sanders early attacked dialing for dollars:

BILL MOYERS: Tell me how that money works. I mean, you’ve been on the inside 20-some-odd years, as I sit. How does it actually work? We hear “money in politics.”

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Well, this is how it works. And this is what people do not appreciate. And it’s true for Republicans and Democrats, as well. You do not know how many hours every single week, how many hours every single day people walk into the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee or the Republican Committee. And you know what they do? They dial for dollars. They dial for dollars, hour after hour after hour.

BILL MOYERS: Who are they calling?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: They’re calling a list of people who have money. That’s who they’re calling. And what happens when you do that day after day, month after month, your worldview becomes shaped by those people. And most of the money coming into your campaign coffers comes from those people. And you begin representing their perspective.

BILL MOYERS: Well, there are more–it’s more than that, isn’t it? Because you just released a long report on the billionaires.

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Absolutely.

BILL MOYERS: –who are pouring money into the—

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Absolutely. We have right now, and this should frighten every American, as a result of this disastrous Citizens United decision, we’re looking now at people like the Koch Brothers, putting in one family, $400 million. Adelson, worth $20 billion, putting in $100 million. We have over 23 billionaire families making large contributions, and I think that’s a conservative number.

So what you are looking at is a nation with a grotesquely unequal distribution of wealth and income, tremendous economic power on Wall Street, and now added to all of that is you have the big money interests, the billionaires and corporations now buying elections. This scares me very much. And I fear very much that if we don’t turn this around, Bill, we’re heading toward an oligarchic form of society.

BILL MOYERS: But the people who are in charge of this system and could therefore change it are the people who benefit from the dialing for dollars. So what’s the solution when you have the fox in charge of the henhouse?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Well, the immediate political solution is a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. The longer-term solution is people all over this country saying, “We’re not going to give up the democracy that has made this country great, so that a handful of billionaires can control the political process. We ain’t going to allow that to happen.” We need public funding of elections, which I think is probably the most important thing we can do politically. Billionaires cannot and should not be allowed to buy elections.

Why are so many of the young people who helped get Obama elected disillusioned with Mr. Obama?

BILL MOYERS: Senator, what’s your take on why so many young people and progressives are disillusioned with President Obama?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: In my view, President Obama ran the best campaign for president that I have seen in my lifetime. He did what is enormously difficult, get young people involved, get working people involved, have a vision out there, get people excited. That’s not easy stuff. He did it.

What I think happened is, in a sense, the day after the election, he said to all of those people, all of that grassroots activism, “Thank you very much. Now I got to sit down and work with Republicans. And I got to start compromising. And I’m not going to fight for the vision that I campaigned on.”

For example, every speech that I give, I talk about the crooks on Wall Street and what their illegal behavior has done to this economy. And people say, “Bernie, why aren’t these guys in jail? Why isn’t the Obama administration taking these people on? Why aren’t we breaking up these large banks?” From the White House, do you hear much about that? You don’t.

The power of big money, coming forward with the bold initiatives that get excited, say to them, “Listen, we got some right-wing extremists running the House. I need your help. We’re going to change our disastrous trade policies. We are going to create a jobs program to put millions of people to work. But I can’t do it taking on all the money guys. I need millions of people standing with me.” Have you heard that from the White House?

BILL MOYERS: No, what we hear is continuing calls for bipartisanship, even as Republicans have waged the most partisan and obstructionist agenda in modern history. And even the other day, the president said, “I’m sure that after I’m re-elected, the Republicans will work with me.” I mean, I don’t understand that, frankly. And you’ve been down there all of this time. From his speeches, he seems to be a fighter. But from his behavior, he caves.

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: I don’t understand it, either. Look, there’s nothing wrong with bipartisanship. If you and I disagree and we can come up with a decent compromise that’s good for the American people, let’s do it. But when you have people whose main function in life is to obstruct and destroy every single initiative, when you have the Republican leader in the Senate say, “Our main goal is to make sure that Obama is a one-term president.”

And you keep reaching out. And they keep cutting you and cutting you and cutting you, there comes a time when you say, “Hey, I got to stand up to you. I have to rally the American people.” He has not done that. Is he a fighter? I think that you have a very competitive guy, in terms of himself getting reelected. I think this guy’s going to work like a dog.

BILL MOYERS: That’s his career.

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: That’s right. He’s a tough guy in that sense. In terms of public policy, standing up for Republicans, I think we’re looking at a different president.

Many other topics, including “Fraud is the business model of Wall Street.” Also, see

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Category: Corporatocracy, Corruption, Politics

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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