In an amazing speech, Sen. Bernie Sanders went to Liberty University this morning and gave right-wing evangelicals a dose of progressive faith, and tore apart the hypocrisy of supposedly faith-based Republicans defending immoral economic policies.
Sanders explained why he agreed to speak at Liberty, “I came here today because I believe that it is important for those with different views in our country to engage in civil discourse – not just to shout at each other or make fun of each other. It is very easy for those in politics to talk to those who agree with us. I do that every day. It is harder, but not less important, to try to communicate with those who do not agree with us and see where, if possible, we can find common ground and, in other words, to reach out of our zone of comfort.”
Later Sen. Sanders turned the Republican support of inequality on its moral ear:
Let me be very frank. I understand that issues such as abortion and gay marriage are very important to you and that we disagree on those issues. I get that. But let me respectfully suggest that there are other issues out there that are of enormous consequence to our country and the world and that maybe, just maybe, we don’t disagree on them. And maybe, just maybe, we can work together in trying to resolve them.It would, I think, be hard for anyone in this room to make the case that the United States today is a just society or anything close to a just society. In America today, there is massive injustice in terms of income and wealth inequality. Injustice is rampant.There is no justice when the top one-tenth of 1 percent own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. There is no justice when all over this country people are working longer hours for lower wages, while 58 percent of all new income goes to the top 1 percent.There is no justice when, in recent years, we have seen a proliferation of millionaires and billionaires while, at the same time, the United States has the highest rate of childhood poverty in the industrialized world. Twenty percent of all children – and 40 percent of African-American children – now live in poverty.There is no justice when, in a rigged economy, the 15 wealthiest people in this country in the last two years saw their wealth increase by $170 billion. That is more wealth, acquired in a two-year period, than is owned by the bottom 130 million Americans.There is no justice when low-income and working-class mothers are forced to be separated from their new babies one or two weeks after giving birth because they must go back to work to sustain their family and because the United States is the only major country on earth that does not provide paid family and medical leave.There is no justice when thousands of people in this country die each year because they don’t have health insurance and don’t get to a doctor when they should.
Republicans don’t have an exclusive on morality, justice, and faith. Sen. Sanders called out the Republican hypocrites who warp the Bible to defend income inequality. Sen. Sanders was brilliant. He turned the Republicans’ moral argument in defense of the billionaires against them.
Bernie Sanders made the inequality and poverty in the United States a moral issue. His argument was compelling. He discussed the immorality of the right’s economic policies. To progressive Christians, how some Republicans have warped religion to defend policies that harm millions of Americans in need is a matter of outrage.
Sen. Sanders said that the poor and the wretched had a right to go to a doctor when they are sick. Sanders said, “Money and wealth should serve the people. The people should not serve money and wealth.”
Sanders struck at the heart of a basic ideological hypocrisy, and in the process found some common ground with the students at Liberty University.