U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders just gave a commencement speech that could not stand in starker contrast to the bitter, petty, vindictive, partisan, self-pitying speech Hillary Clinton gave last week at her alma mater, Wellesley College, peppering her speech with insults to the Republican Party’s candidate who bested her in the November general presidential election last year.
Instead Bernie Sanders, who has plenty of his own slightly more legitimate reasons to be bitter and upset about how the presidential contest went last year, blasted inequality and racism, and urged listeners at the Brook College Graduation event not to allow partisan demagogues to divide us.
At Wellesley Clinton took the opportunity to compare the current president to Richard Nixon and bring up impeachment (something that actually didn’t happen to Nixon- he resigned- but did happen to Clinton’s husband):
“We were furious about the past presidential election of a man whose presidency would eventually end in disgrace for impeachment for obstruction of justice, after firing the person running the investigation into him at the Department of Justice.”
By contrast, Bernie Sanders didn’t make his commencement address about Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. Instead he made it about the issues face by Americans and the principles he enjoined listeners to hold fast to:
People took notice of the sincerity and passion in his tone and choice of topics. CBS News even called his commencement speech, “reminiscent of his fiery speeches on the campaign trail,” saying:
“In a Brooklyn College commencement address on Tuesday that was reminiscent of his fiery speeches on the campaign trail last year, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, criticized 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, a native of Brooklyn told the audience, “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.”
Sanders, who is not affiliated with any party and self-identifies as a democratic socialist although he caucuses with the Democratic Party in the U.S. Senate, also criticized the United States of America’s staggeringly high prison population, which is the largest in the entire world by far, and even larger than the number of people held in prisons at the height of the Soviet gulag, in a country which Ronald Reagan referred to as the “Evil Empire.”
“Because of poverty and racism, today in a broken criminal justice system, we have more people in jail than any other country on earth. And those people are disproportionately black, Latino, and Native American.”
Sanders also related what it was like for him growing up in Brooklyn as the son of immigrants:
“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.”