It’s not unusual for a great book to make its way to the silver screen and hit it big. And while you won’t see “The Speech” in the local multiplex anytime soon, the new book by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) had its start in video form.
“This is the only book that started out as a movie first, I think,” Sanders joked.
The “movie” that preceded this book is actually what some called the act of “FiliBernie” — C-SPAN 2 coverage of a one-man filibuster that the Senator delivered last December. For more than eight hours, with no break, Sanders attacked Bush-era tax cuts for the rich and bemoaned the collapse of the middle class.
“You can call what I’m doing today whatever you want,” Sanders said in the speech. “You can call it a filibuster. You can call it a very long speech. I’m not here to set any great records or to make a spectacle. I am simply here today to take as long as I can to explain to the American people the fact that we have got to do a lot better than this agreement provides.”
The speech became a social media sensation. Millions followed online, crashing the Senate server. In the days after the speech, Sanders’ Twitter and Facebook followers more than doubled. His offices received thousands of supportive phone calls and e-mails.
The few who missed it, however, can now read “The Speech: A Historic Filibuster on Corporate Greed and the Decline of our Middle Class” in its entirety. An introduction by the Senator has been added, and several figures have been corrected from the text in the Congressional Record.
Sanders’ main purpose for giving the speech — and for publishing the book — is to call attention to what he views as the failures of the country’s current economic policies. He speaks repeatedly of the collapse of the middle class and the need for Representatives to represent the average American.
“There is a lot of anxiety in this country,” Sanders said. “Not only about the particular legislation but there is also a perception on the part of many people that there is something fundamentally wrong. ... Poverty is increasing and the gap is growing wider between the rich and everyone else.”
The speech begins as a vehement attack on President Barack Obama’s deal with Congressional Republicans to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich. “It is Robin Hood in reverse,” Sanders said in the speech. “We are taking from the middle class and working families, and we are giving it to the wealthiest people in this country.”
He also attacks many of the country’s trickle-down economic policies. Supporting his arguments with an array of statistics and heartbreaking anecdotes from constituents, the Senator attacks the elimination of the estate tax, the Wall Street bailout and the payroll tax holiday that took away from Social Security.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.