Bernie Sanders' campaign may be over, but he's still pushing the same messages he promoted when he ran for president. Sanders' commencement speech at Brooklyn College focused on citizens' responsibility to end government corruption and economic equality. And though he didn't ever mention Donald Trump by name, many references to the President and his policies were woven throughout.
"As a student at James Madison High School, many years ago, I recall my social-studies teacher talking about how there were small developing countries around the world that were oligarchic societies — places where the economic and political life of the nation were controlled by a handful of very wealthy families," he recounted to the graduates. "It never occurred to me then that the United States of America, our great nation, could move in that direction. But that is precisely what is happening."
Sanders went on to describe the biggest problems he sees our country facing, including the uneven distribution of wealth and disproportionate number of working class people and people of color who end up in prison. He also criticized Congress for proposing the American Healthcare Act, which would cause 23,000 additional people to lose health insurance, while pursuing tax cuts for the rich.
"Directly related to the oligarchic economy that we currently have is an oligarchic and corrupt political system which is undermining American democracy," he said. "As a result of the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, corporations and billionaires are able to spend unlimited sums of money on elections. The result is that today a handful of billionaire families are spending hundreds of millions a year to make sure that candidates who represent the rich and the powerful get elected."
Despite this grim outlook on current politics, he cautioned against losing hope and giving up. That "is an understandable response but it is not an acceptable response," he said. "It is not an acceptable response because the reality that we face today impacts not only our lives, but the lives of our children, the lives of our grandchildren and, with regard to climate change, the very future of this planet. The truth is that the only rational choice we have, the only real response we can make, is to stand up and fight back — reclaim American democracy and create a government that works for all of us, and not just the 1 percent."
The whole thing sounded a bit like another of his campaign speeches, but today's political climate has given his words newfound meaning.