By Bernie Sanders
It's not just the British who are suffering. That increasingly globalized economy, established and maintained by the world's economic elite, is failing people everywhere. As incredible as it may seem, the 62 richest people on the planet have as much wealth as the poorest half of the world's population, close to 3 billion people. The one percent now own more wealth than the rest of the 99 percent. The very very rich enjoy unimaginable luxuries while billions of people suffer extreme poverty, unemployment, and lack education, housing, clean water and adequate social security.
Could this rejection of the current state of the global economy occur in the United States? Of course yes.
During my campaign for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, I visited 46 states. What I saw and heard too many times were the painful realities that go unnoticed by the political elite and the media.
In the last 15 years, nearly 600,000 factories have closed in the country and more than 4.8 million high-paying manufacturing jobs have disappeared. Much of this problem is related to disastrous trade deals that encourage corporations to move to countries with lower wages.
Despite the large increase in productivity, the median male worker in the United States today earns $ 726 less than in 1973, while the median female worker earn $ 1,154 less than in 2007, after adjusting for inflation.
About 47 million Americans live in poverty. Some 28 million do not have health insurance and many others have bad insurance. Millions of people are struggling with scandalous levels of student debt. Perhaps for the first time in modern history, our younger generation will likely have a lower standard of living than their parents. Even more alarming: millions of poorly educated Americans will have a shorter life expectancy than the previous generation as they succumb to despair, drugs and alcohol.
Meanwhile, in our country the richest one percent now have almost as much wealth as the poorest 90 percent. Fifty-eight percent of all new income is going toward that one percent. Wall Street and billionaires, through their “super-PACs” (Political Action Committees), can buy elections.
In my campaign, I spoke to workers unable to earn a living on just $ 8 or $ 9 an hour; retirees who struggle to buy the medicine they need even though they receive $ 9,000 a year in social security; young people who cannot afford college. I also visited American citizens in Puerto Rico, where 58 percent of children live in poverty and only slightly more than 40 percent of the adult population has a job or is looking for one.
Let's be clear: the global economy is not working for the majority of people in our country or in the world. This is an economic model that the economic elite developed to benefit the economic elite.
We need a real change.
But we do not need a change based on the demagoguery, intolerance and anti-immigrant sentiment that has so prevailed in the rhetoric of the campaign to leave the European Union, and that is fundamental in the message of Donald Trump.
We need a president who vigorously supports international cooperation that ties people together globally, reduces hyper-nationalism and lessens the possibility of war. We also need a president who respects the democratic rights of the people and who fights for an economy that protects the interests of working people and not just those of Wall Street, drug companies and other special interests.
Fundamentally, we need to reject our "free market" policies and move towards a fair market. Americans would not have to compete against workers in countries that pay low wages and earn pennies an hour. We must tear down the Trans-Pacific Agreement. We must help poor countries develop sustainable economic models.
We need to end the international scandal where large corporations and the wealthiest fail to pay trillions of dollars in taxes to their national governments.
We need to create tens of millions of jobs globally, fighting global climate change and transforming the world's energy system so that the use of fossil fuels is eliminated.
We need an international effort to reduce military spending in the world and address the causes of wars: poverty, hatred, hopelessness and ignorance.
The notion that Donald Trump could benefit from the same forces that promoted the UK's departure from the European Union should set off an alarm in the Democratic Party in America. Millions of American voters, like the English who supported Brexit, are understandably angry and frustrated with the economic forces that are destroying the middle class.
We are at a key moment, where the Democratic Party and the new Democratic president need to make it clear that we support those who are struggling and those who are lagging. We must create national and global economies that work for everyone, not just a handful of billionaires.