Bernie Sanders Calls for a Political Revolution to Save Our Democracy

On a warm, overcast evening in Madison, ten thousand progressives thronged to the Alliant Energy Center to hear the man who has become the new prophet of the progressive movement, Bernie Sanders.

The crowd waited anxiously. They milled and talked and began to chant, “Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!” as they waved signs and clapped. The excitement as 7 pm approached was palpable. “Feel the Bern” read signs, and the crowd duly took up the chant.


B – E – R – N – I – E! the chant had become as the clock struck the hour, and then the applause began, building to a crescendo, human thunder, signs waving, as Bernie Sanders took to the podium and waved.

“Tonight,” he told the crowd when they had quieted, “we have made a little bit of history. Tonight, we have more people at a meeting for a candidate for president of the United States than any other candidate …” By now, the applause, as they took up the chant again, was deafening. “Thank you.”

Responding to a billboard “welcoming” him to Wisconsin by labeling him an “extremist,” Sanders told the crowd that,

The view of the majority of the American people are a little bit different. We believe the time has come when people…from all over this country create a political movement that says to the ruling class: you can’t have it all.

And what we are saying to the Koch brothers, Governor Walker, and all of those people, is that this great country and our government belong to all of the people and not just a handful of wealthy people.

Sanders had some ideas about government he wanted to share, an appealing alternative to what government has become in America today:

“What politics should simply be about is people coming together, taking a hard look at the problems we face, listen to different ideas, and then go about solving those problems.”

“Despite what the media may think, politics is not a baseball game,” he said. “Politics is not a soap opera. What politics is about in a democratic society is coming together and improving life for other people.” What we have instead, he said, is the Kochs electing people who will make the rich richer “and everyone else poorer.” This is not democracy, he said. This is oligarchy.

He told Wisconsin progressives that,

This campaign is not about Bernie Sanders. It is not about Hillary Clinton. It is about you. It is about putting together a grassroots movement of millions and millions of people who stand together and make it clear that we need fundamental changes in the economics and politics of this country so that government works for all of us and not a handful. We need an unprecedented grassroots movement. A politically conscious grassroots movement.

The big money interests, Wall Street, corporate America, all these guys have so much power that no president can defeat them unless there is an organized grassroots movement making them an offer they can’t refuse. And this is what this campaign is about. A political revolution in America, a revolution which takes on the greed of Wall Street and corporate America.

Sanders addressed what have become familiar themes in his campaign, as he explained to the crowd what we are facing: the profound imbalance of income inequality he termed “grotesque,” the “proliferation of millionaires and billionaires at the exact same time millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages.” This is not, he said, “What America is supposed to be about.”

This is a rigged economy, and brothers and sisters, together we are going to change that! This campaign is sending a message loud and clear to the billionaire class, and that is that you can’t get tax breaks when children in America go hungry! You cannot continue to send our jobs to China when millions of Americans are desperately looking for work! You can’t hide your profits in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens when we have so many unmet needs in America!

His message to these billionaires was simple: “We will end the greed of the corporate class for them.”

“In my view…it is time to break up the largest financial institutions in this country. Wall Street cannot continue to be an island unto itself, gambling trillions in risky financial investments while expecting the public to bail it out. In my view…if a bank is too big to fail, it is too big to exist.”

He condemned Citizens United, saying that “The American political system has been totally corrupted and the foundations of American democracy are being undermined…What the Supreme Court said in so many words to the wealthy is, now we are going to give you the opportunity to own the United States government, and that is what they are trying to do right now.” In response, he called for the public funding of elections.

Wealth has been taken from the middle class and given to the wealthy. In response, “Our job,” he said, “Is to redistribute wealth back into the hands of working families.”

He admitted he will be outspent in this campaign:

But we are going to win this election because if we do our job well, if we develop the grassroots national movement that I know we can, at the end of the day they may have the money, but we have the people, and when the people stand together, we can win. Thank you all very much.


It was an inspiring speech from a great orator. The crowd, which filled the Alliant Energy Center, heard what they wanted to hear from Sanders, and interrupted with applause again and again, sometimes to almost painful decibel levels.

Bernie Sanders came to Wisconsin, the old home of American progressivism, and called for a political revolution to shake the foundations of America. Change, he had told them, “Takes place from the bottom on up. It is never from the top on down.” And last night, in Madison, from the bottom up, from the elderly to students, that change began.

Photos by Hrafnkell Haraldsson

21 Replies to “Bernie Sanders Calls for a Political Revolution to Save Our Democracy”

  1. Bernie Sanders can only become a viable candidate if there is a party organization to work for his election. Barack Obama was elected, twice, because of incredible grass-roots level ORGANIZING! The right message, and Bernie Sanders is certainly delivering that, MUST be accompanied by good orgnization. Is that happening?

  2. Prior to the event there were over 200 Bernie volunteers in the Alliant Energy Center getting a rundown on the event. I would say from observation that must have some good people working for him.

  3. Bernie can have all the volunteers in the world working for him. He can even be elected but, if he does not have at least, a little control of the Senate and House, he will again(as Obama has) have great trouble in getting ANY bills passed.
    SOOOO people, work to get the Dem’s back in the White house, Senate AND House.
    I WILL VOTE FOR Bernie OR ANY DEM NOT>> for any rethug. Don’t care who he or she is.. simply DO NOT TRUST THEM.

  4. I was glad to see Ed Garvey in the audience ( who I worked for when he ran for governor ) and another friend, Sen. Fred Risser. I’m sure there were others.

    BTW, check out who have been featured speakers at Fighting Bob Fest put together by Ed G. every year in Baraboo, Wis.
    Bernie has appeared many times, and his message has been consistent. He was the keynote speaker last year (2014). NO corpo-Dems like Bill / HRC, Kerry, Gore, et al have ever showed. Dennis Kucinich, Russ Feingold, Tammy Baldwin, Gwen Moore, John Conyers, Mark Pocan, HAVE !

    Let’s have an Evolution Revolution !

  5. Please go over to wonkette where they are now dissing Bernie.
    Evidently, the PUMA’s are already frightened and on the prowl.

  6. Jeb isn’t going to beat anybody, and no amount of money can save his campaign, because he has no message.

  7. to those who say he can’t be effective without the house/senate….yes he can
    he can push legislation the same way he can get elected, a direct appeal to the people
    this is the kind of candidate most feared by the
    oligarchy. a populist movement that has as its basis…TRUTH. and because it’s truly a grassroots movement there’s a point where it reaches a critical mass and becomes almost unstoppable. just hope they don’t “bullworth” him

  8. The people pushed for gun control, campaign finance, tougher environment regulations and in the end the people got nada. People grow the eff up and start making sense

  9. I would make sense and argue for doing so. Except, in a time of insanity. Then, maybe, it would be time for a ‘reign of terror’, where the aristocrats have their heads lopped off. Or, maybe…the con-artists thrown out of airplanes without a parachute at 10,000 feet.
    That might show some of them contrition and shame, but probably not enough.

    No, I’d rather see the whole mess collapse, as sure as it’s headed. Maybe I survive, maybe not.

    Then, 200 years from now, historians will debate why America descended into Empire, and failed.

  10. Do you get paid to be a troll?
    Must be fun being a prostitute. Four ads for Bush ? Wow! That’s four more original thoughts than he’s ever had ! ( Oh, wasn’t Jeb ? …doesn’t matter ). He wins the Gold, along with everyone else in the Republican Olympics ! HURRAH !

  11. Hey I don’t mind liberals having healthy debates over Bernie and Hillary, I want Bernie because I’ve listened to him speak for over 5 yrs through the Hartman show. And I’m just not completely sold on Hillary, I didn’t appreciate the racist things her and Bill said about Obama back in 07, but if Bernie doesn’t beat out Hillary, I sure will vote for her. Debate is one thing, telling bald face lies is another, I expect that type of behavior from republicans but anyone who accuses Bernie of being fake and phony is just being disingenuous! Bernie was involved in civil rights movement when he was in college in the early 60’s,he was arrested for marching with black civil rights leaders, so that’s my feelings about the man. So listening to the likes of @churchlady & @ish babbling their nonsense just makes for lively jabs and some fun!

  12. @Moongrim, you’re absolutely correct, Bernie does speak wisdom! but listening to these so called DEMOCRATS, trying to descredit him is laughable, one individual here had the nervous to say Bernie won’t get the black and hispanic vote, that’s utter nonsense! Bernie earned his battle scars during the 1960’s! did Hillary EVER march for civil rights? Now part of Bernie’s negatives are, he’s not superficial FLASHY! he doesn’t grandstand for attention, he’s solid and honest! now IF there are blacks and hispanics who don’t know him, that’s their damn faults! because Bernie’s record speaks for itself! just try listening to it. I’m not trying to knock Hillary, but maybe the RWers suckered me too but I just don’t completely TRUST her, like I trust Sanders! WALL STREET isn’t giving her 100’s of millions of dollars just because! it’s for a reason! either way, the next president MUST be a democrat, because the next SCOTUS selections depends on it! I trust Hillary would do the right….

  13. There are hundreds of thousands of people working for Bernie on the grassroots level. Just look at his $15million in donations from 250,000 Americans. I doubt the Democratic party will work for him. Hillary Clinton is its candidate so, it is up to us to work for him each and every day. In Connecticut the Governor and the Democratic powers-that-be already endorsed Clinton but that did not keep 50 Bernie supporters from lining the streets near the convention center where 1000 Democrats were having their annual dinner. Car horns were honking, people were cheering when they saw our signs and, I can guarantee Democrats noticed and might have been a bit concerned not to see one Hillary supporter.

  14. tom It sounds like you are suggesting that the more money you spend the better campaign you have. I totally disagree. I want a person who is frugal with my money; a person who can draw 10,000 people to an even without spending a penny on advertising.

  15. love you Bernie – so lovely to KNOW he says what he MEANS – THANK GOD FOR SOMEONE WHO IS SINCERE – it is so apparent that no-one questions his sincerity, whereas everybody else just seems to be saying what they think you want to hear – even Hillary. I will be happy if the Dems win, even if it is Hillary but would just love it if Bernie could make it –
    go Bernie !!!! We need you !!!! We have to show the 1% that they are NOT in control !!!!

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