Bernie Sanders is urging unions to join him in defeating the Koch brothers and prevent them from gaining overwhelming political influence in our political system.
During the Nevada State AFL-CIO Constitutional Convention, Sen. Sanders announced:
“Today, as a result of the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, the Koch brothers, the second wealthiest family in America, is prepared to spend some $900 million this election cycle — more than either the Republican Party or the Democratic Party is likely to spend.”
That’s an awful lot of money to spend, and the Kochs have a diabolical right-wing neo-fascist agenda attached to it.
The Kochs, as well as their network of wealthy allies, want to completely do away with Social Security, Medicare, the Veterans Administration. They want to eliminate the Postal Service. They don’t believe in the minimum wage and oppose increasing it to more livable standards. They want to do away with estate tax.
“Today, as a result of the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, the Koch brothers, the second wealthiest family in America, is prepared to spend some $900 million this election cycle — more than either the Republican Party or the Democratic Party is likely to spend.
Why? What do the Koch brothers want? Let me tell you.
The Koch brothers and their billionaire allies don’t just want to cut Social Security, they want to eliminate Social Security; they don’t want to just cut Medicare, they want to eliminate Medicare; they don’t just want to cut healthcare at the VA, they want to eliminate the Veterans Administration; they don’t want to just cut the Postal Service, they want to eliminate it; they’re not only opposed to increasing the minimum wage, they don’t believe in the concept of the minimum wage; they don’t want to just cut the estate tax, they want to abolish it.
In other words, the Koch brothers and the billionaire class want it all. They want to give Americans the “freedom” to live in poverty working for $3 or $4 an hour without healthcare, without childcare, without a pension, without the ability to send their kids to college, and without any hope that their children will have a higher standard of living than they do.
And they understand that the major obstacle standing in the way of their extreme, right-wing agenda is the trade union movement.
That’s why they have fought so hard to eliminate unions in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and all over this country by ending collective bargaining rights.
And, that’s why I believe that we need to create a political revolution in this country of millions of workers, veterans, the elderly, the disabled, people of color standing together and telling the billionaire class that enough is enough! Your greed is destroying this country. You cannot have it all! You cannot continue to get tax breaks while children in this country are going hungry.
This country belongs to all of us, not just to a handful of millionaires and billionaires.”
If the Koch brothers get their way, Americans will be left with nothing – they’ll be forced to work for just a few dollars an hour without pension and won’t have access to healthcare or childcare. They won’t be able to send their children to college and this horrible cycle of poverty will continue under the Kochs’ claim that it gives everyday Americans more “freedom.” What it really means…is that the Kochs and their ultra-conservative billionaire friends will get richer while the rest of Americans get poorer.
There’s one thing standing in the Kochs’ way, and that’s the very unions that Sanders is calling on. The greedy Kochs are so threatened by the trade union movement that they’ve tried to get rid of them in states such as Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and many others by putting an end to collective bargaining rights. Sanders explained:
“When only the wealthy were allowed to vote, the trade union movement was successful in demanding universal suffrage and a more democratic society. When tiny children were forced to work in the factories and fields, it was the trade union movement who put an end to abusive child labor and who fought for quality public education. When bosses refused to negotiate with their workers and fired them for standing up for their rights, the trade union movement pushed Congress into passing legislation which guaranteed all people the right to organize unions and collectively bargain for better wages and benefits.
Unions may not be able to fight the Kochs with money, but they have something more powerful and critical to saving America from the Kochs’ extreme agenda: the ability to influence the vote. Unions are well-known for being superb organizers, and are perfectly capable of getting Americans to protect themselves and outvote unethical, self-serving right-wing billionaires. This very energy is what prevented the Kochs to be successful in 2012, and Sanders wants to make sure it happens again.
Tapping the emotions of everyday Americans, Sanders is leading a movement against the Koch brothers, inspiring Americans to take action against those who will lead our country into destruction. The last thing the Kochs want is for millions of Americans to vote, and Sanders is determined to make the Kochs’ nightmare come true.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.