Bernie Sanders is — according to none other than Fox News — the most popular politician in America (61% approval). One can snicker and think that’s like being the fastest guy at the snail race, but Sanders’ moment has lasted beyond the election and well into the Trump administration. Indeed Sanders keeps gaining popularity because his message appeals not only to those who supported his candidacy, but also to disgruntled, hoodwinked Trump supporters looking at the new president’s billionaire-infested cabinet. Sanders’ agenda also has the advantage of appealing to human decency, which Americans still prize despite the rancor and attempts to “divide and conquer” perpetrated by an American oligarchy.
Oligarchy, in fact, is one of Sanders’ favorite words. And the oligarchy is by definition against the success of the middle class, which Sanders notes is under perpetual assault. Perhaps the most important chapter in Sanders’ new book is the “The Decline of the American Middle Class”, in which he reveals this whopper of a fact: “In 1979, the top one-tenth of 1 percent owned about 7 percent of the wealth in this country. Today it owns 22 percent.” The stat is why citizens feel staggered by the stacked deck — because it’s staggering. Since 2000, Sanders writes, when the US had “51 billionaires worth $480 billion,” the number has grown to “540 billionaires worth $2.4 trillion.”