In a refreshing twist, former presidential candidate and current Independent Senator Bernie Sanders (Vermont) gave a commencement speech Tuesday at Brooklyn College, focusing on inequality and corruption and not on President Donald Trump.
In fact, Sanders speech made no mention of the president, unlike the one given by failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton who’s bitter remarks leveled numerous zingers at her former presidential rival.
Sanders’ commencement address reminded some of speeches he gave while campaigning last year. He included remarks about wealth inequality, political corruption, racism and the criminal justice system.
“In the last 17 years, while the middle class continues to decline, we have seen a ten-fold increase in the number of billionaires,” Sanders, said. “Today in America, CEOs are earning almost 300 times what the average worker makes. And in terms of income, while you and your parents are working in some cases 2 or 3 jobs, 52 percent of all new income generated today goes to the top 1 percent.”
In his remarks about crime, Sanders mentioned the substantial amount of incarcerated individuals in the prison system.
“Because of poverty and racism, today in a broken criminal justice system, we have more people in jail than any other country on earth,” Sanders said. Not missing an opportunity to throw race into the equation, he continued, “And those people are disproportionately black, Latino, and Native American.”
As the son of immigrants, Sanders included nostalgic comments about poverty.
“From those experiences growing up without a lot of money, I have never forgotten that there are millions of people through this country who struggle to put food on the table, pay the electric bill, try to save for the kids’ education, or their retirements…people, who against great odds, are fighting to live in dignity,” Sanders said.
Not to completely disappoint his fans, Sanders did include comments about “Republican leadership.” He was rewarded with some supportive “boos” when he said Republicans are cutting entitlement programs and health care for needy citizens while giving tax breaks to the “very wealthy” while calling the Republican majority an oligarchy.
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