Bernie Sanders Warns Democrats About What Brexit Means for America

June 28th 2016

Kyle Jaeger

In an editorial column published in The New York Times on Tuesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) warned that the economic forces that led Britain to exit the European Union last week are also at play in America.


There's more than one factor that contributed to the Brexit vote. Economic concerns — specifically respecting the impact of the 2008 recession on EU member countries as well as the amount of money that the U.K. was required to contribute to the EU ($19 billion per year, according to Vox) — drove the “Leave” vote. Other issues included anxiety over the EU's liberal immigration laws (in respect to security as well as jobs), and concerns about the system's growing bureaucratic influence on domestic policy also played a role.

As one woman told The Guardian, "If you’ve got money, you vote in. If you haven’t got money, you vote out.”

"That increasingly globalized economy, established and maintained by the world’s economic elite, is failing people everywhere," Sanders wrote. "The very, very rich enjoy unimaginable luxury while billions of people endure abject poverty, unemployment, and inadequate health care, education, housing and drinking water."

For anyone who has followed Sanders' presidential campaign, the column bore a striking resemblance to speeches and statements he's given over the past year, specifically focusing on domestic economic policy. But for this column, he broadened the scope of his indictment of the economy to account for the global economic system, which he says workers are now rejecting globally.

"Could this rejection of the current form of the global economy happen in the United States?" Sanders wrote. "You bet it could."

Sanders cited statistics about America's poverty rate, factory closures, wage stagnation, unemployment, and income inequality to bolster his argument. The rise of the wealthiest individuals in the U.S. has come at a cost to lower and middle income Americans, he says, and frustration over these economic trends could translate into political capital for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

America needs change, Sanders continued. "But we do not need change based on the demagogy, bigotry and anti-immigrant sentiment that punctuated so much of the Leave campaign’s rhetoric — and is central to Donald J. Trump's message," he said.

"The notion that Donald Trump could benefit from the same forces that gave the Leave proponents a majority in Britain should sound an alarm for the Democratic Party in the United States. Millions of American voters, like the Leave supporters, are understandably angry and frustrated by the economic forces that are destroying the middle class.

"In this pivotal moment, the Democratic Party and a new Democratic president need to make clear that we stand with those who are struggling and who have been left behind. We must create national and global economies that work for all, not just a handful of billionaires."

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