A love of money is the root of all evil.
We see it time and time again. It’s what drives the capitalist system that we have here in the United States. Companies are founded upon the business model of how to maximize profit. This unfortunately leads to multiple issues such as cutting corners while hiring, paying female employees less than men (source?), ignoring environmental regulations, discouraging the unionization of workers, and using financial loopholes, both legal and illegal, to avoid paying taxes and stashing profits overseas. Money is seen as part of an individual’s social status as well. The nicer the car, the fancier the home, the more exotic the vacation are the more respect the person or family in question feels entitled to. Meeting a significant other’s family for the first time, the very first question a person will be asked is what he or she does for a living. That response and subsequent first impression it provides can very well endear a person to or receive scorn from a family based on how successful they view that career to be.
On the flip side, a lack of money can drive people to despair. Those that struggle to make money are often forced into dire situations as not everyone has a close friend or family member they can rely on in times of need. A lack of money due to poor financial management or losing a job can ruin lives. People end up on the streets, doing anything they can to survive. Some sell drugs (but is this always done out of desperation or just because the money’s so good?). Others turn to prostitution or crime (to be fair lots of people do these things out of laziness too). There are those that spend their days panhandling, hoping that a stranger walking by will be kind enough to provide them with enough money to eat for the day (or enough for a fix). For people who have fallen on hard times financially, they yearn for any opportunity to get back on their feet and they will go to great lengths to do so.
Bernie Sanders is one of those people.
For roughly seventeen years, Sanders lived in small town Vermont before he entered politics. Despite being a presidential candidate, there has been no mainstream media coverage or questions about this time in Sanders’ life. Whatlittle we do know paints the picture of a man who struggled to determine just how to enact his version of what he saw as a need “political revolution” in this country. While working on that aspiration, Sanders had to pay the bills so he engaged in a variety of jobs such as a teacher, hospital aid, nonprofit worker, carpenter, and freelance writer. He was married and then divorced two years later. He then had a son out of wedlock and shared custody with the child’s mother. His friends recalled that he lived in squalor and often had no electricity as he struggled to pay his bills. Some of them remarked that they actually didn’t know what Sanders did to earn a living at various points of his life. It was not until he was elected mayor of Burlington in 1981 where Sanders earned his first significant yearly paycheck of $33,100 a year.
From that point forward, Bernie Sanders finally had money. His paychecks increased significantly once he was elected to the House of Representatives in 1990 and the Senate in 2007. Yet, currently Sanders’ net worth is listed as only $528,014. He doesn’t own stock, he has anywhere between $25,000-$65,000 of credit card debt to his name, and his assets are all listed in his wife, Jane’s name. Add to that the fact that Sanders has only released his tax returns for asingle year and the fact that his wife Jane received $200,000 a year as president of Burlington College and one can see that Sanders has a lot more wealth than he is letting on. In fact, political consultant James O’Brien has made a convincing case that Sanders may very well be a millionaire himself. Should that be the case, it would explain why Sanders keeps his financial assets in his wife’s name and hasn’t released his tax forms from years he wasn’t running for president a la Mitt Romney. How would his legions of followers feel knowing that the man railing against the millionaires and billionaires is a millionaire himself?
The problem with Sanders is that this campaign has been the first time in his life that he has had access of millions of dollars and already we’ve seen the kind of problems this influx of cash can create. Despite raising more than $42 million in February, the campaign has been subject to two separate letters from the FECin which the campaign received 665 potentially illegal foreign donations as well as over 3,500 donations that exceeded the maximum legal amount. Among those who over gave was none other than political commentator Bill Maher, someone who theoretically should be aware of election law. In addition, Sanders also received a mysterious $10 million contribution from Washington, D.C. which must legally be disclosed should any individual contributor donate more than $200. Even if this mystery contribution is made up of small donors giving $35 each that would require nearly 300,000 donations or roughly half the population of Washington, D.C. Something just isn’t right.
Not only is the money coming in questionable, but the next issue becomes what that money is used for. According to the March FEC disbursement by Bernie 2016, the money raised is going to a variety of sources, both people and organizations. Most of it goes to sources like travel, hotels, food, communications, research, and promotion but a large part of it goes to campaign staff. Throughout Sanders’ campaign, he has been adamant about his distrust and distaste for the political “establishment” of Washington, D.C. Yet his chief political strategist is a man by the name of Tad Devine who worked on Sanders’ 1996 congressional campaign as well as his 2006 senatorial campaign. Devine has been a lifelong Washington insider having worked for a law firm that previously represented Monsanto as well has having worked on national Democratic campaigns for Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, and John Kerry. While Sanders’ campaign manager Jeff Weaver netted a cool $9,900 for his efforts for the month, Devine earned a whopping $810,000 for his consulting firm Devine, Mulvey, and Longabaugh Inc. For those keeping score at home that’s 30,000 $27 donations sent to Bernie to help defeat the millions and billionaires of the establishment in Washington, D.C.
But that was always the intent, we were simply too blind to see it.
Because Bernie Sanders’ brand of socialism has always been to take away the wealth from those at the top. Having lived in squalor for all those years, Sanders never saw himself as part of that group even though now he very well could be a millionaire. Sanders saw a rich, elite class in this country that used whatever loopholes necessary to both keep and grow their wealth while he struggled with a series of professions while trying to figure how to make a career out of his political ideology. Like all of us, Sanders wanted to be wealthy and he found it grossly unfair that those at the top could maintain their wealthy lifestyle while those at the bottom such as himself had next to nothing. It was not until Sanders started making money himself that he choose to be a career politician where he could both make money and rail against those in power in this country.
So in April of 2015, after having served for 25 years in Congress Sanders chose to align himself with the Democratic Party to gain media exposure and resources. He knew people wouldn’t give significant amounts of money to a third party candidate so he usurped his position into a political party that would provide these for him. This decision has allowed Sanders both name recognition as well as the ability to raise money for his friends like Tad Devine. He has sold the idea of a “political revolution” to millions of people and has convinced them to donate to his campaign. Already he has spent $81 million including having outspent Hillary Clinton in multiple states. However his campaign is losing and losing badly, proving the ironic fact that a campaign doesn’t have to spend the most money to get people excited and involved. Yet, even as the campaign is losing and heading for an inevitable defeat, Sanders is continuing to raise funds in an effort to convince his legion of supporters that victory is still possible even though he is not raising any money for down-ballot Democratic candidates that would actually be the ones to actually put his political “revolution” in place.
For Bernie Sanders supporters, the concept of socialism was about taking money away from those at the top and redistributing it to those in need. Yet Bernie Sanders has done exactly the opposite: he has taken money from those at the bottom and redistributed it to those at the top, including himself and his closest friends. Sanders may not be legally able to keep most of the money he has raised from the campaign but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that when all is said and done Sanders will have made a name for himself and will have created a marketable persona, one that people will pay to see and be exposed to. He’ll be able to confirm he is, in fact, a millionaire. Heck, after he retires from office he may even go on a paid speaking tour, a la Hillary Clinton. Whatever he ends up doing, Sanders will do so knowing that in roughly 18 months, he will have stolen over $100 million from millions of Americans who were convinced that he was an honest politician simply because he told us he was.
And he’ll do it laughing all the way to the bank.