In a speech indicting President Donald Trump’s vision and policies on Tuesday night, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) lauded an upswell of progressive activism, dubbing it “the beginning of a political revolution.”
Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (D-Mass.) had the honor of delivering the Democratic Party’s official response to Trump’ State of the Union address; Virginia Del. Elizabeth Guzman (D) offered the official Spanish-language response.
But, in a reflection of the diverse chorus of Democratic voices eager to make their mark, several other progressive leaders, including Sanders, joined the fray.
Acting as a de facto spokesman for the left wing of the Democratic Party and the motley mix of disenchanted populists who flocked to his 2016 presidential campaign, Sanders’ speech was, true to brand, far more radical in its proposals, indignant in its tone and saturated with policy details than the two official responses delivered by Kennedy and Guzman. Streamed live online, it was also nearly twice as long as either of their orations ― and, unlike his Democratic counterparts, Sanders chose not to refer to God in his closing.
He divided his comments into three parts: a description of the campaign promises Trump has failed to uphold; the “major crises facing our country that, regrettably, President Trump chose not to discuss;” and a discussion of Sanders’ own ambitious progressive vision for the country.
Sanders argued that while Trump claims to be helping American workers, the overwhelming share of income gains in the economy continue to go to the richest slice of the country.
“Since March of last year, the three richest people in America saw their wealth increase by more than $68 billion. Three people,” he declared incredulously. “A $68 billion increase in wealth. Meanwhile, the average worker saw an increase of 4 cents an hour.”
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