In an Oxford-style debate on Monday with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator Bernie Sanders argued that progressive policy goals such as Medicare for All, expanding Social Security and a higher minimum wage high are “what the American people want” and lambasted the political establishment – including his GOP colleague – for ignoring the most important crises facing the United States, from the climate emergency to obscene levels economic inequalities.
“If we don’t stand up and say we need a government that represents working people and the middle class, I worry a lot about the future of this country.”
“That’s what the establishment does, and Lindsey is a very good and effective representation of the establishment,” Sanders said after Graham gave his opening speech at the conference. debatewhich took place at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute in Boston and broadcast live by fox nation. “Does Lindsey worry that we’re the only great country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee healthcare to everyone? That some 60,000 people die every year because they don’t get to the doctor in time I didn’t hear much about it in that opening statement.”
“Does Lindsey care that we have the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, and that the pharmaceutical industry currently has 1,500 paid lobbyists in Washington, DC to make sure that in some case, we pay 10 times more for the drugs we need?” Sanders asked. “Did Lindsey talk about the fact that we have, in South Carolina and across the country, tens of millions of workers working for poverty wages? Did he talk about a corrupt political system in which billionaires today can create a super PAC – and I assume you are familiar with super PACs, they help fund your campaign, which can spend unlimited amounts of money electing candidates.”
“I haven’t heard Lindsey talk about the climate change crisis,” the Vermont senator continued. “Are you afraid that two people have more wealth than the bottom 42%? … The bottom line is: we are heading towards oligarchy. What if we don’t stand up and say we need ‘a government that represents workers and the middle class, I’m very concerned about the future of this country.
Sanders, who appeared on FoxNews several times in recent years to counter right-wing narratives and advocate for a progressive agenda, did so again at Monday’s event, forcefully rejecting Graham’s attempt to lay out grassroots and grassroots political goals as a “complete socialism” and detached from public sentiment.
“The policies I advocate are happening all over the world,” countered Sanders, who identifies as a democratic socialist. “I would like to ask Senator Graham: Do you think raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour is socialist? Do you think doing what every other great country on the planet is doing, guaranteeing health care everyone, is socialist? Do you think expanding Medicare to cover dental care is socialist enough?”
“I think we should increase benefits for Social Security recipients by lifting the cap…is that socialist?” He continued. “Is making sure that all of our children can get a higher education, is that socialist? Does it mean that three Wall Street companies shouldn’t control $20 trillion in assets, and we have to dividing them, is that socialist?… Take a look at the issues we’re fighting for: on each of these issues, Lindsey, guess what, the American people support me, not you.”