Bernie Sanders, 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, delivered his latest campaign speech at Georgetown University on Nov. 19. Sanders is a politician, not a professor, but his speeches recently have taken on a distinctly educational cast. Mostly, they aim to teach Americans about democratic socialism, to dispel boogey-monster fears about the “s-word” and explain how it can be used to address America’s current social and economic woes.
The lessons he delivers to audience after audience are pretty much the same: economic inequality in America is severe and growing; the middle class has all but disappeared; the majority of new income generated today is going to the top 1% of Americans; the US is controlled by “a handful of billionaires.” His proposed solutions are familiar now, too: free universal healthcare, free college education, paid parental leave, higher taxes on the wealthy, banking regulations, a living wage.
But last Thursday, Sanders added a new dimension to his argument: the yawning gap between rich and poor has created a growing class of Americans, he suggested, who aren’t really free.