Bernie Sanders and his wife Jane made about $200,000 last year, according to Bernie's recently released tax returns. This compares to what Hillary and Bill raked in 2014: $28 million! Or to put it another way, Bernie's income last year was less than Hillary made in a single speech to the big shots at Verizon.
It seems then that I have finally voted for a presidential candidate whose family makes less than mine does--and it feels good! And if the American voters choose wisely in the next primary elections, perhaps I will vote for him again on election day in November.
When I contemplate Bernie's political platform, I am constantly brought back to the life of Dorothy Day and to her unfailing commitment to the poor. This is what Dorothy wrote:
Yes, the poor will always be with us--Our Lord told us that--and there will always be a need for our sharing, for stripping ourselves to help others. But I am sure that God did not intend that there be so many poor. The class struggle is of our making and by our consent, not His, and we must do what we can to change it.And of course today, we have many kinds of poverty. We have the very poor, millions of faceless people we don't often see. But there is another kind of poverty as well. How many people with good incomes are working their lives away to meet their house notes, make their car payments, and pay down their credit card balances? As Dorothy said many years ago, "The fact is we are no longer a nation of homeowners and apartment renters. We are a nation of people owing debts and mortgages, and so enslaved by these and by installment buying that families do indeed live in poverty, only poverty with a new face."
Or to paraphrase one of Dorothy's Catholic Worker colleagues, it's gotten expensive to be poor!
Of course, if Bernie is elected President, he won't turn our country around overnight. But at least we will have a President who is not bought and paid for by the banks and the financial industry. At least we will be headed toward health care as a basic right and not a bureaucratic maze wired together to please the medical profession and the insurance industry. Perhaps we might even have a country where men and women working full time at Walmart won't have to rely on food stamps just so they can feed their families.
And that would be something, wouldn't it?
Dorothy Day. Loaves and Fishes. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1963.