Throughout the speech, Sanders offers solutions to the problems that he sees in American society. He argues that reversing the current economic policies would reduce the deficit and refocus the country’s economic priorities. He also suggests that reinvesting in the nation’s infrastructure and sustainable energy systems would create millions of jobs and reinforce America’s strength as a nation. Above all, he asks Congress to invest in the country’s children.
“When you invest in your kids, you are investing in the future of America,” Sanders said in the speech. “They are America. And if they are not educated, how are they going to become productive members of society?”
As he gave it, Sanders’ speech was heralded as well-researched, eloquent and inspiring. Its length speaks to his commitment, and its text reveals his passion for the subject. Both are just as evident in the published book as in the original speech.
Nevertheless, the published book has its share of shortcomings. In print, the speech’s many repetitions are more evident — and more tedious. The Senator apologizes for that in the introduction, saying he repeated himself because he knew people would only listen or watch the speech for short periods.
So why turn this into a book? After all, the entire eight hours of his remarks can still be viewed in C-SPAN archives or read in the Congressional Record.
Certainly, the statistics and anecdotes are more jarring and immediate in the published version. The format makes the issues seem more pressing than archival footage does. The book allows the audience to concentrate on the message, rather than worry about whether the 69-year-old Senator looks like he needs a bathroom break.
At first blush, the decision to publish seems like a ploy to milk the public for further fundraising contributions. Sure, all proceeds go to nonprofits in Vermont, but what Senator couldn’t use a little extra publicity in the lead-up to his 2012 re-election bid? The same arguments that critics used against the speech, that Sanders was merely scheming for attention, seem to fit the book as well.
A closer reading reveals the book is indeed a play for attention — but it is not Sanders who wants to reap the benefits. For him, the book, like the speech, serves to spread his message.
“The book is just another vehicle for getting the message out,” Sanders said. “It’s a message that is not heard enough in America.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.