Today we celebrate the 1 year anniversary of an eight-and-a-half hour filibuster by independent, socialist US Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Bernie’s day-long speech, against extending Bush’s tax cuts for the rich, set out really the only sensible position on the financial crash; namely, the rich did it so the rich should pay for it. Fortunately for the rich, the governments they bought are proving excellent value for money by not listening. Yet.
Bernie demonstrates the potential of even one principled legislator to drag the debate in his or her direction. He gives voice to those demands of the people that are otherwise taboo among the elite: a right to healthcare, peace over war, and the end of corporate ownership of democracy (which I’ll come back to later); in doing so he makes it impossible to pretend those ideas don’t exist. Even in a country like the USA, where ‘socialist’ is more an insult than an ideology, he forces Democrats (who often rely on his vote) to recognise its legitimacy.
It became infuriatingly fashionable during and after the last Presidential election for those on the UK centre-left to lament “if only we had an Obama”. You may like to know we *do* have a Sanders: Bernie’s equally heroic, and in my view grossly underappreciated, brother, Green councillor Larry Sanders.
His filibuster speech is truly historic, deserving to be seen as one of the founding documents of the Occupy movement and whatever grows from it. You can watch it below, but unless you want to wait eight hours to find out what Bernie’s been up to this week you might want to skip to the end of this post first, then come back to it.
Senator Sanders does not rest on his laurels. For the first time in his career, he’s moved an amendment to the US Constitution, dubbed the Saving American Democracy Act. A response to the disastrous Citizens United ruling which opened the floodgates to corporate money flowing into politics, this amendment would finally assert in fundamental law the natural truth that a corporation is not a person.
Here’s Bernie introducing his amendment:
Rest assured, in the next week we will be bringing you the festive tradition that is Bright Green’s Dick of the Year. But first, we thought it might be nice to recognise one of Bright Green’s heroes.