Fusion senior editor Felix Salmon sat down with Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders in Los Angeles last Wednesday, the day after the first Democratic presidential debate, to talk about economic policy.
That day, at least, fresh off his strong performance in front of 15 million people, Sanders was not in policy-wonk mode. Instead, he had one big message that he wanted to convey: The rich and powerful have far too much control of America, and it’s time the country was run not for them but for the 99%.
Q: Thank you for doing this. As an Englishman, I’m glad to see proud socialists running for president. Do you believe in redistribution of wealth?
A: Yeah. I think what’s happened is that there has been mass redistribution of wealth in this country for the last 30 years. The problem is it’s gone from the middle class to the top one-tenth of 1%. And I think we have to redistribute it back to working families and the middle class so that they can have a decent standard of living.
Q: So we’ll take the wealth from the rich and redistribute it to the middle classes?
A: It’s a little more complicated than that. But what we have seen in the last 30 years is the percentage of wealth owned by the top one-tenth of 1% double—double!—while the percentage of wealth owned by the middle class has significantly shrunk to the tune of many trillions of dollars. And we have to deal with that.