Sanders tweaks his rhetoric now he is part of 1pc he railed against

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Sanders tweaks his rhetoric now he is part of 1pc he railed against

 


'The topic of his personal wealth is one on which Bernie Sanders seems uncharacteristically defensive.' Photo: Don Emmert/Getty Images
‘The topic of his personal wealth is one on which Bernie Sanders seems uncharacteristically defensive.’ Photo: Don Emmert/Getty Images

The ‘1pc’ – whom Bernie Sanders has spent so much of his career railing against – have a message for the senator from Vermont: Welcome to the club.

Sanders, currently the front-runner among declared Democratic presidential candidates, has lately been bristling about the notice that is being given to the $1.7m (€1.5m) he has made since his first run for president in 2016.

Most of it, ironically enough, comes from the books he has written arguing the merits of democratic socialism.

There’s nothing wrong with making money, though you might not know that from Sanders’s many declarations that a proliferation of “millionaires and billionaires” are the scourge of working-class America. Now, he says: “I wrote a bestselling book. If you write a bestselling book, you can be a millionaire too.”

The topic of his personal wealth is one on which Sanders seems uncharacteristically defensive. He erupted when the website ThinkProgress posted a video noting how his rhetoric has shifted with his growing wealth – pointing out he no longer trains his fire on millionaires, though he is still vilifying billionaires. In a letter, Sanders accused the website’s affiliated think-tank, the Centre for American Progress and its president Neera Tanden, of “simultaneously maligning my staff and supporters and belittling progressive ideas”.

During a ‘town hall’ on Fox News, Sanders dodged a bit when moderator Bret Baier asked whether the kind of financial success he has enjoyed is “the definition of capitalism, the American Dream?”

“What we want is a country where everybody has opportunity,” Sanders said. “You know, I have a college degree.” Sanders is right that not everyone has the same advantages. But if Sanders’s fortune reflects the kind of leg-up afforded to some by the nation and not to others, so does his discomfort in discussing it.

Alexis de Tocqueville wrote the love of wealth is “at the bottom of all that the Americans do”. Since then, our feelings have grown more complicated. Where we might revere people who earn great riches through skill and ingenuity, we are often suspicious – along with envious – of those who have their fortunes handed to them. Or, like Sanders, cash in on sudden celebrity.

President Donald Trump has perpetuated the myth he became a billionaire on his own, rather than through at least $413m in gifts from his father and dubious tax schemes.

On Monday, the ‘New York Times’ won a Pulitzer Prize for the mineshaft it sunk last year into the muddy foundations of Trump’s wealth. People who seek office assume an additional responsibility where their finances are concerned: transparency.

We live in an era of oversharing on social media. But most people remain reluctant to tell even their closest friends how much money they make or where it comes from. (© Washington Post)

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Irish Independent

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