The commencement speech “Bernie Sanders to Brooklyn College Graduates: Don’t ‘Allow Demagogues to Divide Us’ ” was delivered in 2017 in front of the graduating class of Brooklyn College, New York. The speech was delivered at a ceremonial and educational event, but it is mostly a political speech in response to issues related to inequality and discrimination in the US.
The speech came after Donald Trump was sworn into office at the beginning of the year and more than a year after Sanders ran in the Democratic primaries for the US Presidency against Hillary Clinton.
The economic circumstances to which the speech reacts to are explored at length through statistics. In Sanders’ view, the US is turning into an oligarchy: “But that is precisely what is happening. Today, the top 1/10 of 1% now owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90%” (ll. 36-38). The speech further shows how the number of billionaires has increased and how the wealthiest get richer and the poor get poorer in the US (ll. 41-43).
From the speech, we also find out that “…43 million Americans live in poverty” (l. 46). At the same time, Sanders mentions that the US has “the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major country on Earth” (ll. 46-47). It is worth considering that, because this is a political speech, the speaker may h...