US headed for ‘economic & political oligarchy’ if people don’t act – Sanders

Former Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). © Carlos Barria
America is rapidly headed for an “economic and political oligarchy” if people don’t stage a “political revolution ,” former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has warned.

“We have got to get the American people to understand that as citizens in a democratic society, they have rights,” the self-described democratic socialist told Rolling Stone magazine’s Matt Taibbi, in an interview published on Wednesday. 

“They have a right to make sure that their little children have decent care, and that their older kids can go to college. They have a right to breathe clean air, and to make sure that the planet we're leaving our kids is going to be a healthy planet.”

The things that are holding the American people back, according to Sanders, are the “power of corporate America and Wall Street, the insurance companies and so on. If you're not prepared to challenge them, then you can't think big.”

“This is the word that I will use over and over and over again: economic and political oligarchy. It's where we're headed rapidly if we do not have a political revolution in this country,” the senator for Vermont added.

Trump ‘rewritten rules of politics’

According to Sanders, President-elect Donald Trump has “in a sense, revolutionized politics, and we have to respond to that.”

“There are areas where people like me could work with him: rebuilding the infrastructure, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, re-establishing Glass-Steagall [banking act], raising the minimum wage. Those are ideas that we can work on. Now, was he being totally hypocritical and just saying whatever came to his mind that he thought could attract votes?”

READ MORE: Recount won’t ‘transform’ election result – Sanders

Sanders acknowledged that Trump has “rewritten the rules of politics.” Trump should receive credit where credit is due, he added.

“He took on the leadership of the Republican Party, absolutely took on, obviously, the Democratic Party, took on the corporate media, took on everybody, and he became the president of the United States. I think if there's a lesson to be learned from Trump's success, it is that timidity is no longer the path to success.”

He called on Americans not to believe that the vast majority of the people who voted for Trump are racist, sexist or homophobic.

“Some are. I don't believe they all are. They have turned to Trump out of desperation and pain because the Democratic Party has not even acknowledged their reality, let alone addressed it,” he said.

“I just came from the Christian Science Monitor Breakfast, and more than one question – they're literally worried today, before Trump is even inaugurated, who is going to be running in 2020. Literally!” he laughed.

Sanders said Americans “hear virtually nothing about climate change, income and wealth inequality, why we're the only major country not to have healthcare. That's not what their [the media] thing is, so they're not going to do it. We have got to do it. We've got to be smart about it, and the internet will play a very important role in that,” he added.

Last month Sanders issued a warning to Trump over his campaign claims which portrayed him as a champion of the working class, saying: “We will hold you to account.”

He said that as the nation moves into the Trump era it was important to know that “real politics never takes place from the top on down. It always occurs from the bottom on up.”

“When millions of people stand together and they refuse to allow demagoguery to divide us up, by race, by the country we were born in, by our sexual orientation. When we stand together by the millions we can stop Mr Trump or anyone else from doing bad things to this country,” he told a roaring crowd in a speech at George Washington University.