Some pundits in recent days have said that Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders: Clinton shouldn't pick VP from Wall Street Sanders: Primary isn't 'rigged,' just 'dumb' Dick Van Dyke introduces Sanders at rally MORE (I-Vt.) has criticized big banks and Wall Street firms much too harshly because any president must work with them. It is true that any president must work with the financial industry to govern the nation, but it is wrong to suggest that a future president cannot take strong positions on the financial industry prior to the election.
In his first inaugural address in March 1933 — when America was engulfed in the Great Depression — Franklin Delano Roosevelt, one of America's greatest presidents, said this:
The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.
When FDR was battling to continue his long fight to end the corruption of the financial system and lift the American economy — as Sanders seeks to do today — he said this at the Democratic National Convention in 1936:
For too many of us the political equality we once had won was meaningless in the face of economic inequality. A small group had concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people's property, other people's money, other people's labor — other people's lives. For too many of us life was no longer free; liberty no longer real; men could no longer follow the pursuit of happiness.
There some with small minds and timid hearts who believe that the only way to run campaigns is with the huge sums of special interest money that Wall Street and big banks provide to fund super-PACs. They believe, wrongly, that it is not good politics to speak political truth to financial power, and that voters will not support a candidate who does.
Let's remember another great moment from Roosevelt, who said this to a cheering crowd at Madison Square Garden days before the 1936 presidential election:
We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace — business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.
They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.
Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me — and I welcome their hatred.
Days after FDR spoke these visionary and courageous words, he won one of the great epic landslides in American history in 1936!
Those who call the words of Bernie Sanders "too strong" should remember the words of Franklin Roosevelt.
Those who believe that the politics of Bernie Sanders are too visionary to be accepted today should remember the political victories of FDR, and ask themselves why some recent polling suggests that Sanders would win a landslide against Republican Donald Trump in 2016 — as FDR won his landslide in 1936.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Chief Deputy Majority Whip Bill Alexander (D-Ark.). He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. Contact him at email@example.com.