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Sanders writes: "The Koch brothers are the second-wealthiest family in America worth $82 billion. For the Koch brothers, $82 billion in wealth apparently is not good enough. Owning the second-largest private company in America is apparently not good enough. It doesn't appear that they will be satisfied until they are able to control the entire political process."

Bernie Sanders. (photo: Arun Chaudhary)
Bernie Sanders. (photo: Arun Chaudhary)


This Is Not Democracy. This Is Oligarchy.

By Bernie Sanders, Reader Supported News

05 January 16

 

“I like to give on a scale where I can see impact...” - David Koch

arlier this year, a number of Republicans flew to California to make fundraising pitches to more than four hundred wealthy conservative donors attending a private conference hosted by the Koch brothers.

It’s worth taking a moment to ask the question, who are the Koch brothers, and what do they want?

The Koch brothers are the second-wealthiest family in America worth $82 billion. For the Koch brothers, $82 billion in wealth apparently is not good enough. Owning the second-largest private company in America is apparently not good enough. It doesn’t appear that they will be satisfied until they are able to control the entire political process.

This issue isn't personal for me. I don't know the Koch brothers, but I do know this. They have advocated for destroying the federal programs that are critical to the financial and personal health of middle class Americans.

Now, most Americans know that the Koch brothers are the primary source of funding for the Tea Party, and that’s fine. They know that they favor the outright repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and that’s their opinion. It’s wrong, but that’s fine as well.

But it is not widely known that David Koch once ran for Vice President of the United States of America on the Libertarian Party ticket because he believed Ronald Reagan was much too liberal. And he ran on a platform that included the following:

  • “We favor the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt and increasingly oppressive Social Security system.”

  • “We favor the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs.”

  • “We support repeal of all laws which impede the ability of any person to find employment, such as minimum wage laws…”

  • “We support the eventual repeal of all taxation.”

In 1980, David Koch’s presidential ticket received one percent of the vote from the American people. And rightly so. His views were so extreme they were rejected completely out of hand by the American people.

But fast forward almost thirty-six years, and one of the most significant realities of modern politics is just how successful David Koch and the like-minded billionaires attending his retreat have been at moving the Republican Party to the extreme right. The ideas above that were dismissed as downright crazy in 1980 are now part of today’s mainstream Republican thinking.

The Koch brothers, and billionaires like them, have bought up the private sector and now they’re buying up the government. It’s up to us to put a stop to them, but it will require all of us standing together with one voice on this issue.

Your donation to our campaign today is a contribution towards the dismantling of a corrupt system of campaign finance held in place by the Koch brothers and their billionaire friends:

Here’s the truth: The economic and political systems of this country are stacked against ordinary Americans. The rich get richer and use their wealth to buy elections, and I believe that we cannot change this corrupt system by taking its money. If we’re serious about creating jobs, health care for all, climate change, and the needs of our children and the elderly, we must be serious about campaign finance reform.

So far in this election, less than four hundred families have contributed the majority of all the money raised by all the candidates and super PACs combined. According to media reports, one family will spend more money in this election than either the Democratic or Republican Parties.

This is not democracy. This is oligarchy.

Our job is not to think small in this moment. The current system of campaign finance in this country is utterly corrupt. That is one of the reasons I am so proud of how we have funded our campaign — over 2.5 million contributions from working Americans giving less than $30 at a time. But our campaign is unique.

We must pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, and I will not nominate any justice to the Supreme Court who does not make it abundantly clear that she or he will overturn that decision. We need legislation that requires wealthy individuals and corporations who make large campaign contributions to disclose where their money is going. And more importantly, I believe we need to move towards the public funding of elections.

Our vision for American democracy should be a nation in which all people, regardless of their income, can participate in the political process, can run for office without begging for contributions from the wealthy and the powerful.

Tomorrow afternoon I’ll be in New York City to deliver a major speech about our need to create a financial system that works for all Americans, not just the few. I’ll be in touch shortly after. I hope that you’ll keep an eye on your inbox for my message.

We must dismantle the corrupt system of campaign finance held in place by the Koch brothers and their billionaire friends. Contribute to our campaign today.

e-max.it: your social media marketing partner
 

Comments   

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+75 # mh1224jst 2016-01-05 23:35
The Koch brothers, of course, have used the U.S. government all along to amass their billions. It is incredible to learn that in 1980 they advocated outright anarchy. And that is what we see today in the Bundy uprising as well. It is all sheer insanity. What a nightmare to imagine that such crazy ideas have even come close to destroying our country, but they have. And their man is Ted Cruz.
Without Bernie Sanders to try to awaken us from this nightmare, we would probably go down without a fight. He's our best chance to save ourselves, maybe our only chance.
Bless you, Bernie!
 
 
-68 # hipocampelo 2016-01-06 00:46
Senator Sanders certainly talks the talk, but one must compare
what's said with what's been done. I'm suspicious of another
Trojan horse deflection like the disaster we've had with Obama.
 
 
+72 # jimallyn 2016-01-06 00:48
Quoting hipocampelo:
Senator Sanders certainly talks the talk, but one must compare
what's said with what's been done. I'm suspicious of another
Trojan horse deflection like the disaster we've had with Obama.

Bernie Sanders has been walking the walk for over 50 years, the last 34 years as an elected official.
 
 
+11 # Vardoz 2016-01-06 15:42
He's winning the hearts and minds of millions.
 
 
+11 # Jim Rocket 2016-01-06 05:24
Perhaps you have a better choice?
 
 
0 # REDPILLED 2016-01-06 10:38
Jill Stein.

See her platform here: http://www.jill2016.com/plan
 
 
+5 # fletch1165 2016-01-06 01:47
Fascist Nazism is not oligarchy. Let's get serious and honest. Murdering thugs are murdering thugs.
 
 
+13 # REDPILLED 2016-01-06 10:40
"Fascist Nazism is not oligarchy."

True, but they are not mutually exclusive.

The oligarchy running the U.S. and most of the West is also, as you put it, a pack of "murdering thugs", at home and abroad.
 
 
+2 # Inspired Citizen 2016-01-06 04:16
Bernie's unwillingness to accept super PAC support in the time of peak corruption is akin to fighting Mohammad Ali at his prime with one hand tied behind your back.

RAP has ads produced to tell Dem's to #UniteBehindBer nie or lose the general election, but cannot raise the money to run them on TV.

https://youtu.be/tQOPRV-s0tY
 
 
+14 # Eli 2016-01-06 05:35
It has been one almost forever Mr Sanders but it's a good thing that someone of your caliber says it bluntly!
 
 
+2 # Vardoz 2016-01-07 14:49
So lets get off our butts ad vote like we never have before because too much is at stake. And we have to work to change the house and senate from that Corporate mob who call themselves reps and are stealing votes! I called Bernie's campaign office and said he should present legislation to make a law that those electronic machines are required to have paper trails put on them. 855-423-7643
 
 
+22 # video4315 2016-01-06 08:28
Out of all of the candidates who are currently running, only Bernie hits the nail on the head. Thank God for his willingness to push for those things that really matter. As for Ted Cruz being the Koch brothers' candidate, it used to be Scott Walker, before he went down early in flames. Goes to show that big money doesn't necessarily win, but it tips the scales heavily.
 
 
+2 # Vardoz 2016-01-07 14:44
We need to vote for Bernie Sanders like our lives depend on it. And it does.
 
 
+14 # revhen 2016-01-06 08:48
Oligarchy is control by a small group of people. Plutocracy is control by the wealthy. What we are experiencing is BOTH!
 
 
+2 # Justice Lady 2016-01-06 17:45
Yes whoever owns the land & natural resources owns us. But through correct taxation this can be cured & we can have true prosperity & equality.Go to www.henrygeorge academy.org. or www.henrygeorge.org or www.arwep.org
 
 
0 # Wendell Fitzgerald 2016-01-08 06:40
Yes the owners of the earth in essence own us because we (which ironically includes them and me) do not have any right to be here except we pay the rent they demand for access to the source of physical life.

The point of the economic analysis of Henry George is that ownership of the earth, land and natural resources, gives rise to unearned income known to economists as "economic rent" their polite way of saying "unearned income" which historically is the mechanism and root cause to this day of the disparity of wealth.

Bernie Sanders speaks of greed but he does not speak of the mechanism of greed. The mechanism is unearned income estimated at 40+% of GNP. Bernie speaks of taxing the wealthy which is great but he makes no distinction between taxing earned vs. unearned income. He thereby along with most folks on the Left makes unnecessary enemies of those of us who are penalized for working and productively investing unmonopolized capital both of which produce earned income.
 
 
0 # Depressionborn 2016-01-08 19:51
Thanks Justice L. Never heard of arwep. Good to know about it.

"arwep", describes our original system (which worked). Going back to it would really be pushing the reset button.

Also arwep avoids central planning. Bernie needs central planning. So do Greens.
 
 
0 # Vardoz 2016-01-07 14:44
Yes and what are we going to do about it?
 
 
+1 # Depressionborn 2016-01-08 20:53
Quoting revhen:
Oligarchy is control by a small group of people. Plutocracy is control by the wealthy. What we are experiencing is BOTH!


We are experiencing Facsism, the cabal of government and business power.
 
 
+12 # tswhiskers 2016-01-06 09:19
Yes, the Kochs are on the extreme right. My congressman, Mark Meadows, is an absolute creature of the the Koch Bros. All I can say for him is that he looks very good in a suit. He is a "Christian" and I don't feel I can trust him an inch. Bernie is right about the Kochs. I'm not given to boycotting people or products as a rule, but for the Kochs I'll gladly make an exception. They don't need a cent of my money, or anyone else's either.
 
 
+1 # jtatu 2016-01-06 10:19
Can someone explain to me how publicly funded elections in which "all people" can run for office would work?
 
 
+9 # REDPILLED 2016-01-06 10:43
Before that happens, media would have to be required to give free air time to qualified candidates, and corporations would have to be prohibited from making campaign contributions.

In a true democracy, that would happen.

Not here.
 
 
0 # jtatu 2016-01-06 12:32
Who gets to decide who is "qualified"?
 
 
+5 # pies 2016-01-06 12:44
In Poland a presidential candidate must collect (if I'm not mistaken to the actual number) 100.000 signatures for his candidacy to be qualified. Similar rules are used for political parties. The money they receive is paid _after_ the elections and the actual amount depends on what percentage of the votes they manage to win.

The spending has to be accounted for and the accounts are part of public record. TV and radio stations are required to give each candidate or party a certain amount of air time to air their ads.

In parliamentary elections usually 2-3 large parties and a few minor players manage to get into the parliament. You have to win at least 5% of the popular vote to be in the parliament. Unusually in the last election one of the parties had won a majority, meaning it does not have to form a coalition with any other parties to get its bills trough. That is certainly not a welcome change, and many people are upset by what is happening.

We use a popular vote, not electoral college.

By the way, the result is that while the currently ruling party is a socially conservative one, probably closer to The Tea Party than one would like to admit, economically conservative (ie. anti-tax, against social services) parties usually don't go above the 5% vote limit. All the major players are proponents of redistribution of goods, though they differ on the actual ideas for how to do it. I'm a progressive socialist, so I'm fine with that, but some are not happy about it.
 
 
0 # Robbee 2016-01-06 11:23
GOP troll who refuse to listen to bernie but say he wants to support bernie's candidacy in ways bernie hates ARE BACK!

says chief perp - # Inspired Citizen 2016-01-06 04:16 "Bernie's unwillingness to accept super PAC support in the time of peak corruption is akin to fighting Mohammad Ali at his prime with one hand tied behind your back.

"RAP has ads produced to tell Dem's to #UniteBehindBer nie or lose the general election, but cannot raise the money to run them on TV."

- these contrarians say they want to #UniteBehindBer nie refuse to unite behind bernie!

- they insist on uniting AHEAD OF bernie, to act in advance of bernie in his place - forming super pacs! running attack ads! - to take over bernie's movement and, because he is incapable, run it for him!

not to be missed is what else citizen says about RAP - Republicans Against Progress - citizen, at long last! thanks! outs RAP! - Republicans Against Progress - says - # Inspired Citizen 2015-12-10 18:10 "It's going to be #BerrnieOrElse the GOP. That's RAP's promise!"

the misfits in our movement are our pledgers - at the core of pledgers’ delusion is that all hope is lost if bernie does not become prez? - that if he does not we should write him in, guaranteeing a GOP prez, u.s. house and senate? - to bring on the revolution? - yet if bloody revolution fails to bring public funding, only, of federal, state and local elections, overthrowing our plutocrat masters, it was pointless!
 
 
0 # Robbee 2016-01-06 11:25
(cont'd) pt 2

- so our bloviating pledgers hold our presidency hostage, as leverage, making all dem votes worthless - however, to cancel all progressive votes is undemocratic! and to threaten to do so is simply bullying! pledgers are our brownshirt bullies who love to throw their weight around to, as they believe, save us all from their very “take no prisoners” tactic! but when they hold our presidency hostage, they hold democracy hostage, along with all the rest of us but them, who freely chose to yield our democracy to plutocrats!

the end is not near! all is not lost! we have only just begun to take back america, or, as bernie says - “Long term, we need to go further and establish public funding of elections … American democracy is not about corporations and billionaires being able to buy candidates and elections. It is not about Wall Street and big oil or the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson spending billions of dollars to elect candidates who will make the rich richer and everyone else poorer ... This is not democracy. This is oligarchy. The defining principle of American democracy is ... every citizen having an equal say ... And that’s the kind of American political system we have to fight for!”
 
 
0 # Robbee 2016-01-06 11:27
(cont'd) pt. 3

we say we love him but, except for robert reich and i, who here on rsn supports bernie's "political revolution"? - it’s not too late! if, instead of your self-fulfilling prophesy of doom, you pledgers listen to bernie!

citizen is SO FULL OF HIMSELF! bernie is not our dream! our dream is restoring democracy! just listen to bernie!
 
 
+8 # WFGersen 2016-01-06 12:57
Bernie gave this analysis of the Koch brother's 1980 campaign platform over a year at a talk in Hanover NH... I'm sure he's mentioned it countless times since... but... No one in the mainstream media has mentioned it, and no one in the mainstream media has given ANY coverage to Bernie's calling our government what it is: an oligarchy... they DO, however, give countless column inches to Trump's bloviation and to HRC's inevitability.
 
 
+2 # Robbee 2016-01-06 13:02
says - # jtatu 2016-01-06 10:19 "Can someone explain to me how publicly funded elections in which "all people" can run for office would work?"

- bernie did not say government should publicly fund elections of "all people" who can run for office

what bernie says is, to get all private money out! - we now have alternate public funding of major candidates who, as happened to mccain in 2008, had less than the public funding amount rolling into their campaign coffers - bernie calls for public funding, only, of federal, state and local elections! - go bernie!
 
 
+4 # jtatu 2016-01-06 13:28
Bernie said:
"Our vision for American democracy should be a nation in which all people . . . can run for office without begging for contributions from the wealthy and the powerful."
 
 
+4 # VotingCitizen 2016-01-06 14:22
You will never get that from the Republicans. They can't win on their stupid ideas so they cheat in every way possible. they have to have that money and support from the wealthy to figure out ways to cheat and get away with it. Voter suppression, Vote ID laws, gerrymandering districts, etc. Remember Jim Crow laws. This is the new version.
 
 
-3 # Robbee 2016-01-06 13:07
says - # REDPILLED 2016-01-06 10:38 "Jill Stein."

- stein is a third-party candidate for national office, like nader in 2000 - the only thing a green candidate can accomplish in federal elections is to siphon progressive votes from the dem candidate!

didn't stein run in 2012? how did that work out for greens? greens are like a guy who goes to the frig, takes out the milk, opens the top, smells it's spoiled, puts it back, and every four years takes it out again, to see if it's fresh!

the irony is that stein is a competent candidate - like bernie, she should run for office as mayor, do a good job, run for office as senator or governor, as bernie proved a 3rd party candidate can win, before she goes around spoiling dem prez candidacies

the greens' mission is to ruin dem candidacies because they maintain that there is absolutely no difference between dems and zomblicans, which only shows inability to judge, lack of critical thought - when you believe in things that you don't understand, you're gonna suffer! - stevie wonder

greens haven't pulled a nader yet, but they won't quit trying! - go bernie!
 
 
+1 # VotingCitizen 2016-01-06 14:20
Question was asked as to who would decide if a candidate was qualified to run for office and get free air time if elections were publically funded. Our Constitution sets the qualifications for Federal offices and most States have rules for Public office in that State. My own state of Missouri says you cannot run for public office if you have ever been convicted of a falony. Almost all office require you be of majority age and a citizen of the USA and that State.
 
 
+5 # Vardoz 2016-01-06 15:58
Yes and the 99% are sick and tired of a game that's rigged against us, of being impoverished and abused so that those at the top can enrich themselves and destroy us economically and destroy our environment as thousands of innocent unarmed Americans are being shot and imprisoned across our nation everyday in the richest nation in the history of the world!!!! There is a saying in NH - LIVE FREE OR DIE" And economic sabotage is not freedom.

Bernie Sanders is the only candidate that is not part of the Oligarchy and wants to restore a Democracy for the 99%, Sanders is a gutsy, vastly experienced and truly honest candidate that has been consistently for the 99% all of his adult life. SO ENOUGH IS ENOUGH- TIME TO ELECLECT A SANE PRESIDENT WHO IS PREPARED TO TAKE ON THE BILLIONAIRES.
 
 
+2 # Justice Lady 2016-01-06 17:49
The only way to cure all the evils you describe & more is by a Single tax fully on land & natural resource values.Nothing else adheres to true justice & will really accomplish any lasting economic good.Henry George explained it in "Progress & Poverty" the most widely read economic book of his day but suropressed by the powers that be. But the movement lives on.
 
 
+1 # Depressionborn 2016-01-09 13:47
The establishment Republican party failed when it began believing its purpose was re-election. It forgot about people, becoming instead servants of business.
 

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