Bernie Sanders, who describes himself as a "democratic socialist" said Sunday he sees nothing wrong with the United States following examples set by other countries, where the "government works for the ordinary people in the middle class," unlike the U.S. government, which works "for the billionaire."
"At a time when 99 percent of all new income is going to the top one percent, and when the top one-tenth of the one percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent, maybe it's time for a political shakeup in this country and to go beyond establishment politics," the Independent Vermont senator told ABC "This Week"
host George Stephanopoulos.
Sanders, who is running for the Democratic nomination, said that he likes and respects frontrunner Hillary Clinton, but she has been "part of the political establishment for many, many years."
But he also sees nothing wrong or incongruous about a candidate with socialist leanings like his own running for the nation's highest office.
"Countries in Denmark and Norway and Sweden, they are very democratic countries," he said. "Their voter turnout is higher. Health care is the right of all people. College education and graduate school is free. In those countries, retirement benefits are stronger than in the United States of America."
And while Stephanopoulos said he can hear an ad now that says Sanders wants America to look like Scandinavia, Saunders said he doesn't see anything wrong with that, either.
"What's wrong when you have more income equality and a stronger middle class, a higher minimum wage than we do and are stronger on the environment?" he said. "We do a lot in our country which is good but we can learn from other countries. We have the highest rate of childhood poverty of any country on Earth at the same time as we're seeing a proliferation of millionaires and billionaires. I don't think that's what America is about."
Sanders has been an Independent for 30 years, but plans to run as a Democrat and says he will follow "all of the rules and regulations to get on the ballot" that way. But if he loses, he said he will support the Democratic nominee and will not run another campaign against that person as an Independent.
But meanwhile, he said there are many differences between himself and Clinton, particularly when it comes to their records.
"We have got to say very frankly that the wealthiest people of this country and largest corporations are going to have to start paying their fair share of taxes," said Sanders. "That's my view. In terms of climate change I believe this is the great global environmental crisis of our time."
He also says that the nation's trade agreements, particularly with China, have been a disaster, and he hopes to lead an effort against partnership "so that we do not continue to see shutdowns of factories in America and the loss of paying jobs," a stance Clinton has not yet taken.
Sanders said he also has many concerns about the Clintons and their money, and it's not only about the Clinton foundation contribution issues.
"This is in a sense what my campaign is about," said Sanders. "Can somebody who is not a billionaire who stands for working families actually win an election in which billionaires are pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into the election? It's not just Hillary. It is the Koch brothers. Sheldon Anderson."\
He told Stephanopoulos he is "very frightened" about the future of democracy when such races become "a battle of billionaires," and he thinks there should be a constitutional amendment on the issue.
In his own case, supporters raised $1.5 million on the first day
he announced his race, but that came from 35,000 people making donations through his website, with an average contribution of $43.
And while it's early for naming members of a cabinet, Sanders did mention that he'd be interested in considering former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, "a strong progressive" as a person he'd want on his team.
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