Citing the need for “urgency” and “big ideas” to take on dueling threats to democracy and the planet, Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon broke with his Democratic colleagues and became the first U.S. Senator to endorse Bernie Sanders for president.
Despite the “uphill battle ahead,” Sanders’ “leadership…and willingness to fearlessly stand up to the powers that be have galvanized a grass-roots movement,” wrote Merkley, announcing his endorsement Wednesday in a New York Times op-ed. “People know that we don’t just need better policies, we need a wholesale rethinking of how our economy and our politics work, and for whom they work.”
Merkley explained how growing up in “working-class Oregon,” his single-income household was able to lead a middle-class life: “buy a home, take a vacation and help pay for college.”
Now, living in that very same community, Merkley says that “the outlook for the kids growing up there is a lot gloomier today.”
“Many middle-class Americans are working longer for less income than decades ago, even while big-ticket expenses like housing, health care and college have relentlessly pushed higher,” he writes.
“It is not that America is less wealthy than 40 years ago—quite the contrary,” he says, adding that the problem is that the economy “both by accident and design, has become rigged to make a fortunate few very well off while leaving most Americans struggling to keep up.”
At the same time, Merkley continues, political power has also become more concentrated as “special interests, aided by their political and judicial allies, have exercised an ever-tighter grip on our political system, from the rise of unlimited, secret campaign spending to a voter suppression movement.”
“We need urgency. We need big ideas. We need to rethink the status quo,” he states.
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