Tuesday’s Democratic debate gave America its first close look at upstart presidential candidate Bernie Sanders – and have responded with a flood of support. The Vermont Senator and proud democratic socialist’s campaign reports that they have raised $3.2 million dollars in the past three days following his stellar debate performance, bringing their third quarter fundraising total to an impressive $26 million, comparable to presumed frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s 28 million reported.
In the span of a few months, Sanders has constructed a huge grassroots movement that has drawn in 1.3 million small donations from average Americans, who are inspired by Sanders’ populist message and laserlike focus on the real issues that are facing our country – the rampant income inequality, the overwhelming power of Wall Street and corporate oligarchs, expanding healthcare and higher education to all Americans, taking steps to combat climate change, rebuilding the American middle class, and infusing new life into an American labor movement that has been crippled by Republican union-busting legislation. His authenticity and relentless energy are a magnet for frustrated voters on both sides of the political spectrum.
What’s more, his stalwart refusal to accept money from special interest groups sets him apart from the pack. “Other campaigns are bankrolled by big donors who have given so much even under our current corrupt political system they can’t legally give any more. Bernie’s big base of small donors may give again and again. What is clear now is that this campaign to transform America will have the resources to fight all the way to the convention” says campaign manager Jeff Weaver.
The issue of big money in America’s political system has become a focal point of this campaign cycle as new evidence emerges that just 158 American families have been responsible for pouring $176 million dollars into candidate coffers – almost all of them Republican. On the other hand, “only 270 of Sanders’ 650,000 donors gave the maximum $2,700 permitted under campaign finance law. And more than 77 percent of contributions – $20.2 million this quarter and $30.7 million altogether – came from individuals who gave less than $200.”
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Colin Taylor is the 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.