Bernie Sanders is a malcontent.
The U.S. senator for Vermont is bulldozing through the heartland with his unapologetic distaste for corporate wealth and its stranglehold on American democracy. In Sanders's eyes, the U.S. is far from being the best country in the world, and he is inconsolable.
Speaking in his native Brooklyn accent to a 4,000-strong crowd at Minneapolis's American Indian Center last weekend, Sanders laid bare a radical spread of promises. If he were to ever occupy the Oval Office, he'd hound Congress for universal healthcare, full recognition of global warming, free tuition at every public university in the United States, and a $1 trillion public works program to fix the national's failing infrastructure.
They're idealistic visions that seem to fall just short of a superhero complex, but Sanders says paying for it will be easy. There's no need to cut funds from education or throw folks off healthcare. Just tax the shit out of the Koch brothers and the rest of the one-10th of 1 percent of America's billionaire class, which holds as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.
"The most significant issue we face is the grotesque level of income and growth inequality in America," Sanders says. "We have more income inequality than any other industrialized country on earth, and it is worse today than in any time since 1929. There is something profoundly wrong."
Real unemployment in America is close to 11 percent and youth unemployment is close to 17 percent, Sanders says. African American youth unemployment is "off the charts."
Brandishing a bagel in one corner of the American Indian Center auditorium was Eric Homan, who waited in a line that wrapped around the block for close to an hour to see Sanders. For Homan, Sanders is a unique representative of working-class priorities.
"Who really gives a shit about what Hilary Clinton's wearing, or which person has a 3 percent gain in fuckass-istan? Who cares? It doesn't matter," Homan says. "Talking about the merits of issues is a lot more important than talking about who has a better haircut. I think there's going to be a direct correlation between the number of people who hear his message and the number of people who support him."
Send news tips to Susan Du.