Bernie Sanders: Thank you. Thank you. What a turnout. Thank you, Cleveland. Well, let me, let me begin by thanking Senator Nina Turner not only for that introduction. How can I compete against that introduction I don’t know. But more importantly Senator Turner is an example of the kind of public servants we need in America. People who are prepared to stand up for working families and take on the powerful special interests. Nina, thank you. Let me also thank State Senator Mike Skindell, former State Senator C.J. Prentiss, former State Representative Mike Foley, and former Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Tim Hagan for their support. And let me also thank the Reverend Doctor for being with us this evening.
Let me begin my remarks in a somewhat somber way in telling you what you already know. That as Americans we are appalled, we are disgusted by the attack against the people of Paris by the terrorist organization ISIS. And I know that I speak for everyone here and everyone in our country when we send our condolences to the families who lost loved ones in that barbaric attack. And our prayers go out for speedy recoveries for the many hundreds who were injured. In my view now is the time for developing a serious and effective strategy to destroy ISIS.
Now is not the time for cheap political talk or trying to take political advantage of this difficult moment. Now is the time as President Obama is trying to do to unite the world in an organized campaign against ISIS by bringing together all of the countries who have common interest in defeating international terrorism, even countries that we have disagreements with. So I think what the President correctly is trying to do is bring together our European allies, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and others along with Russia, and along with the Muslim countries who are today face to face with ISIS. What we need is an international coalition including Iran and Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait and Turkey. Now putting together this coalition is not going to be easy given the many hostilities and long seated disagreements that some of these countries face. But that is what President Obama and Secretary Kerry are trying to do, and I support their efforts.
But let me also say, let me also say that now is not the time for demagoguery and fear-mongering. If you think about it for a moment you understand that what terrorism is about is trying to instill terror and fear into the hearts of people, and we will not let that happen. As Americans, as Americans we will not be terrorized, we will not live in fear. And I do have to tell you that I am disturbed by some of what I am hearing from my Republican colleagues.
And I will just say this, during these difficult times as Americans we will not succumb to racism, we will not allow ourselves to be divided and succumb to Islamophobia, and when hundreds of thousands of people have lost everything, have nothing left but the shirts on their backs we will not turn our backs on the refugees from Syria and Afghanistan. We will do what we do best and that is be Americans fighting racism, fighting xenophobia and fighting fear.
And perhaps most importantly we will learn the lessons of history. Yesterday the Chairman of the Republican National Committee state, and I quote, “Never before have I seen an American President,” meaning President Obama, “project such weakness on the global stage,” end of quote. Well, as many of you will remember back in 2002 we had a President, President Bush. You remember President Bush? We had a President and he was very, very tough, but not very smart.
He and Dick Cheney and the whole lot of them they were tough. And they said we should invade Iraq, we should do it virtually alone and the result was 6,700 brave men and women from our country dead, hundreds of thousands of our best young people coming home with injuries physical and emotional, many, many hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead and wounded, huge instability in the entire region and we are paying the price today for that instability and that chaos. So I say, I say to my Republican colleagues yeah we have got to be tough but not stupid. Yes, we need to create a worldwide coalition that will defeat ISIS, but no, the United States of America must not be involved in perpetual warfare in the Middle East.
Let me say, let me say something else. There are those including many Republicans, some in the media, who think that because of this horrific attack that the only thing that we should focus on is defeating ISIS. And what I say is yes, we will lead the world in defeating ISIS, but at the same time we will rebuild the disappearing middle class of this country. We are, we are a great nation and we can accomplish both goals. Let me, let me, let say a word about the campaign that we are waging.
You know, about six months ago a little over six months ago we began this campaign with no money, no organization, and frankly very few people in Ohio or the rest of the country knew who Bernie Sanders was. Well, we have come a long way in six-and-a-half months. We have brought out over 300,000 people to rallies like this all over America. We have hundreds of thousands of volunteers in every state in this country, and at a time when the pundits and the experts said, you know, you can’t run a serious political campaign without a Super PAC, without raising money from corporations and millionaires and billionaires.
We are doing it without a Super PAC. And I'm very proud to tell you that as of today we have approximately 800,000 Americans who have made individual contributions to our campaign. That is more contributions than any campaign in this history of America at this point in a campaign. Our campaign is a people’s campaign. We don’t want Wall Street money, we don’t want corporate money, we don’t need billionaire money. We will win this on our own. And we will win this very simply as Senator Turner said a few moments ago, enough is enough.
This country faces some very serious problems and the American people are catching on that establishment politics and establishment economics is not going to solve those problems. And what the American people also understand is that at a time when Wall Street and corporate America and large campaign donors have so much power people instinctively understand that no President, not Bernie Sanders not anybody else can alone solve enormous problems that we face.
And what people know and what this campaign is about is not just electing a President, it is creating a political revolution. And what that means, what that means is not complicated. In the last election a year ago 63 percent of the American people didn’t vote, 80, 80 percent of young people didn’t vote. The vast majority of low income working people didn’t vote. What our job, and it is not an easy job, is to reach out to tens of millions of Americans who are working in many cases longer hours for lower wages, sometimes they can’t afford to feed their kids, they can’t afford to send their kids to college.
Our job is to reach out, is to bring people together, black and white, Hispanic, Asian Americans, gay and straight, men, men and women, people who were born in this country, people who immigrated to this country because see when we allow them to divide us up we lose. When we stand together there is nothing we cannot accomplish. That’s what this campaign is about. We are the vast majority of the people in this country and when we come together we can defeat the people with all of the money and with all of the power.
Now, I have been all over this country and given a lot of speeches, and one of the best compliments that I’ve received came from a guy I think it was out on the West Coast and he said, you know, Bernie, what I like about you is you are treating us like we are intelligent people. In other words, what this campaign is about is not fancy gimmicks and me telling you all kinds of jokes. Can’t do that, I don’t have much of a sense of humor. I'm not gonna tell you all about my beautiful family and my beautiful grandchildren, but what I will do with you which we don’t do enough is simply lay on the table the most serious issues facing our country. Some of you may agree, some of you may not, disagree but that is what democracy is about.
Democracy is not what the media thinks it is, it’s not a soap opera it’s not a baseball game, it doesn’t matter what the polls are, it doesn’t matter what how much money you’re raising. What democracy is about pretty simply is us talking about the issues that we face respectfully, respectfully arguing about this issues, and then coming together to resolve those problems. Remember, every problem that we face was caused by human decisions, every problem that we face can be overcome by better decisions.
Now let me start off by talking about an issue that I have in fact been talking about for a very long time, and I am happy that now we are beginning to see more and more people discuss it. And that is the issue of the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality that exists in America today. We have, we have got to put that issue right on the table. And here is what’s going on plain and simple in the United States today we have more income and wealth inequality than almost any major country on Earth and it is worse today than at any time since 1928.
Today in America, and I want you to hear this because this is the extent of the problem. Today in America the top one-tenth of one percent, not one percent, one-tenth of one percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. Today in America one family, the Walton family of Walmart owns more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of the American people. Today in America in the last two years the 14 wealthiest people in this country have seen their wealth increase by $156 billion, more wealth than is owned in entirety by the bottom 130 million Americans.
In Ohio, in Vermont all across this country and I see it as a travel you got people who are not working one job at 40 hours, they’re working two jobs, maybe they’re working three jobs. Husbands are working, wives are workings, kids are working all trying to cobble together the income they need to sustain their families, to buy healthcare, to put gas in the car, to pay the electric bills. And yet today in America 58 percent of all new income, 58 percent is going to the top one percent.
So what this campaign is about simply stated is creating an economy that works for all of us and not just millionaires and billionaires. And this campaign is sending a simple and straightforward message to the billionaire class, and that is in America when people have the power the billionaire class will not have it all. The billionaire class will not get huge tax breaks while children in America go hungry. They will not continue sending our jobs to China when millions of people are in desperate need of good paying work here in America.
They will not give continue to give huge compensation packages to the CEOs of large corporations when they cut the wages and the pensions and the healthcare. And let me just recognize I think some of our Teamster friends who I hear are here tonight. All over this country, all over this country a promise that was made to tens of thousands of workers in guaranteeing them their pensions is now being undermined, and if I have anything to say about it, and Marcy Kaptur of Ohio and I do, we will pass our legislation to make sure that those pensions that you were promised will not be cut.
When we talk about what’s going on in America we have to take a very deep breath and just take a hard look at what we see around us. So this is what I see. I see that today our economy is in fact better than it was when George Bush left office. And, you know, you know something our Republican friends we shouldn’t be too hard on them because they suffer from a very serious illness called amnesia.
They forget. So if any of my Republican friends are listening try to overcome the amnesia and let me remind you of where we were seven years ago before Obama and Biden took office. My Republican friends say well, you know, we’re only growing two 250,000 jobs a month, not enough. They’re right, but it is a hell of a lot better to grow 250,000 jobs than to lose 800,000 jobs a month. My Republican colleagues again suffering from this very serious illness of amnesia they worry about the deficit and that is a serious problem. But they forgot that when Bush left office we had a record breaking $1.4 trillion deficit. We’ve cut that by two-thirds. And by the way when Bush left office the American and international financial system was on the verge of collapse. Just in passing we might want to mention that.
So the truth is we have of course made significant progress in the last seven years against unprecedented Republican obstructionism, but there is another truth that we have got to lay out on the table. This is a harder truth. And that is for the last 40 years under Democratic Presidents and Republican Presidents the great middle class of our country once the envy of the entire world has in fact been disappearing. Despite exploding technology and increased worker productivity median family income today is almost $4,000 less than it was in 1999 and in inflation adjusted dollars.
We have millions of people, men and workers men and women who are earning less money than was the case 30 or 40 years ago. That’s the reality. So the question that all of us have got to ask ourselves is how does it happen that when workers are producing more because of exploding technology they are earning less and working longer hours? And that’s the question we are gonna answer.
And let me tell you something else when we talk about the economy. Every month the U.S. government issues a report on unemployment. And what you see on the front pages of the papers are official unemployment which now nationally is about five percent. But what you don’t see is that if you add to that five percent people who have given up looking for work or people who are working part-time when they want to work full-time real unemployment is close to 10 percent.
And here’s something else that we virtually never discuss, and that is the tragedy of youth unemployment in this country. And here’s the story about that. I asked some economists a couple of months ago to do a study for me. This is what they found and listen to this, because this is really very significant. What they found is that for high school graduates, these are graduates not dropouts, between the ages of 17 and 20 for white kids real unemployment and underemployment is 33 percent, for Hispanic kids 36 percent, for African American kids 51 percent. Now why is this so significant? And you all know the answer.
What do people want in life what do kids want? A kid graduates high school they want to stand up on their own two feet, they want to get out of the house, they want to start earning some money. They want to become independent, they want to start a career, they want to become adults. But when half of the African American kids in this country and in cities like Cleveland that number may even be higher, when kids in this country are unable to stand on their own two feet and get out and get a decent job bad things begin to happen. And if anybody here thinks, if anybody here thinks there is not a direct correlation between outrageously high youth unemployment and the fact that we as a nation have more people in jail than any other country on Earth you would be mistaken.
So let me tell you what I think is the most commonsense idea that is out there, and that is that instead of investing in jails and incarceration maybe we should invest in jobs and education for our kids. Instead of spending $80 billion a year locking our people up why don’t we take a fraction of that and use it to create jobs for young people so they’re not hanging out on street corners. And let me tell you something that you all know. It costs a heck of a lot less money to send somebody to the University of Ohio than put them in jail.
Let’s invest in education. And here is a promise, write it down don’t forget it. That at the end of my first term as President the United States of America will not have more people in jail than any other country. We’re gonna have the best educated workforce in the world.
And when we talk about the economy, brothers and sisters, it is not only the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality, it is not only unemployment, it is the fact that in your state and in my state and all over this country you got people working longer hours for lower wages and they’re working at wages that do not sustain themselves or their families. In Vermont and in Ohio there are people who are working 40 hours a week and then they have to go to the food shelf in order to get food to feed their families.
The truth is that wages in America are too damn low, the minimum wage of seven and a quarter an hour is a starvation wage and together we are going to raise the minimum wage in this country to a living wage, 15 bucks an hour over the next few years. And when we talk about fair wages I hope every man here will stand with the women and demand pay equity for women workers. There is not rational economic reason why women are making 79 cents on the dollar compared to men. It is sexism not acceptable.
Now let me say a word about family values. Now you have heard many Republicans expressing deep, deep concern about families, especially very wealthy families who might contribute to their campaigns. But they are very passionate about quote unquote, “family values.” And everyone here knows what they mean by family values. What they mean is that no woman in America should have the right to control her own body. I disagree. And what they mean by family values is that our gay brothers and sisters should not have the right to get married. I disagree.
Now as Senator Turner mentioned here earlier I'm very blessed. I have four great kids and seven beautiful grandchildren and my wife, Jane, and I have been married for 27 years. We believe in family and we believe in family values but our values just a little bit different than Republican family values. And when I talk about family values what I am taking about is ending the international embarrassment of the United States of America being the only major country on Earth that does not guarantee paid family and medical leave. (Inaudible) let me be very clear. It is not a family value to tell a woman who has just given birth that she has to be separated a week or two after giving birth from her baby. That is not a family value. It is not a family value to tell a woman that she has to go back to work in order to earn the necessary income she needs to sustain that family because there is no additional income coming in.
Now here’s the good news. The good news is that in the Congress and the Senate and in the House there is a very strong piece of legislation, The Family and Medical Leave Act. We got 19 sponsors in the Senate introduce by Senator Gillibrand. In the House we have over 100 introduced by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro. And what this legislation says and what I strongly believe is that in America we will guarantee every family three months of paid family and medical leave. We will guarantee those families two-thirds of the income they were earning and we do that all for a cost of about $1.38 a week. Not a bad price to pay, a buck 38 a week. My hope is that every candidate for President, especially those who talk about family values will come on board and support that legislation.
And when we talk about the economy and when pollsters go out and they call you up and they say what is on your mind, what is on the minds of the American people always, always, always the answer is jobs and the economy. Because people understand how volatile the economy is. They understand that if you are 55 years of age you can go to work tomorrow and your boss could say well thanks for 30 years of work, Joe, but we’re replacing you with somebody half your age at half your income. And they understand that if you’re a college graduate it is hard to get work commensurate with your education. And they understand that if you’re a high school kid graduate or a high school dropout it is hard to find any work at any wage.
So that is why in my view given the unemployment, the underemployment, the outrageous level of youth unemployment the federal government must undertake a massive federal jobs program to put our people back to work. We should not be firing teachers and childcare workers, we should be hiring teachers. And when our infrastructure, our roads, our bridges, water systems, waste water plants, our rail system, our airports, or levies and dams in many states are collapsing we can create millions of decent paying jobs rebuilding our infrastructure and that’s what I intend to do.
And by the way, and let me say this very clearly to the folks in Ohio when we talk about jobs it’s not only creating decent paying jobs it is preventing the loss of good paying jobs because of disastrous trade policies. You are looking at a former Congressman and a Senator who proudly tells you he voted against NAFTA, against CAFTA, against Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China. And I will help lead the effort to defeat this disastrous Trans-Pacific Partnership. Whether corporate America likes it or not they are gonna have to start investing in the United States of America, creating jobs here not just in China and in Vietnam.
When we use words like greed and fraud and dishonesty and arrogance these are just a few of the adjectives we can use to describe Wall Street. The simple truth of the matter is everybody here knows is that the greed and the recklessness and the illegal behavior on Wall Street drove this country into the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. And what happened is that millions of people lost their jobs, some of them have not found new jobs.
Many of them lost their homes and many people lost their life savings making retirement that much more difficult. We need a banking system in this country that is part of the productive economy that provides affordable loans to small and medium sized businesses so they can create jobs. We do not need a banking system in which the six, six largest financial institutions in this country have assets equivalent to 58 percent of the GDP of America, six financial institutions which issue two-thirds of the credit cards, one-third of the mortgages. When you have financial institutions and a Wall Street that have so much economic power so much political power, during the effort to deregulate Wall Street which I help lead the opposition to, they spent Wall Street spent $5 billion over a 10 year period on lobbying and campaign contributions.
When you have an entity like Wall Street which has so much economic and political power which is making so many campaign contributions to Super PACs to Democrats and Republicans the answer to what we have to do is obvious, and that is reestablish Glass-Steagall and break up these huge banks. If a financial institution, and by the way three out of the four largest financial institutions in this country today are bigger now than they were when we bailed them out because they were too big to fail. My view is that if a financial institution is too big to fail it is too big to exist.
Now some of you may know that I have recently introduced legislation to take marijuana out of the controlled substance line. Now I did that, I did that for a number of reasons, but most importantly over the last many, many years hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people have been arrested for possessing marijuana and they get police records. And when you got a police record it makes life difficult. It makes it much harder to go out and get a, get a job, it makes it harder to find housing, to get decent credit, and in some cases people ended up in jail.
So I find it very interesting in terms of a broken criminal justice system I find it interesting that hundreds of thousands of people have criminal records for possessing marijuana but not one CEO on Wall Street has a criminal record. So that is, that is why we have got to bring major, major reforms to a broken criminal justice system. We should not be a country in which we have banks too big to fail and bankers too big to jail.
I am often asked, you know, well, Bernie, which particular issue is the most important and I can never answer them because all of these issues are so terribly important. But there is one issue, one issue which impacts all other issues and that is five years ago the Supreme Court in one of the worst decisions ever made in the history of the Supreme Court by a five to four vote on the Citizens United case.
By a five to four vote what the Supreme Court to the wealthiest people in this country they said guys you already own much of the economy now we’re going to allow you to purchase the United States government and that is what they are trying to do right now. Now I am, I am the former, very proud to tell you I am the former Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs and we work very hard to protect the interests of our veterans. And as a member of the Veterans Committee I have talked to some wonderful people who have fought in World War II and Korea and Vietnam all the way through to Iraq and Afghanistan. And these people have put their lives on the line and of course many of our soldiers never came home to defend American democracy.
American democracy is not about billionaires buying elections. When you have a situation where the second wealthiest family in this country, the Koch brothers, and a few of their friends, oh you have heard about the Koch brothers? Okay. When a handful of families can spend some $900 million in an election cycle, more money than either the Democratic or Republican Party will spend that is not democracy that is oligarchy and we are going to end that.
So here is another promise that I make to you. No nominee of mine to the Supreme Court will get that position unless he or she is loud and clear in saying they will vote to overturn Citizens United.
And furthermore, when we talk about democracy together we are going to stand up and tell Republican governors and legislators they will not get away with suppressing the vote. They are not going to tell people of color, old people, young people that they cannot vote because they don’t have some voter ID. They are not going to force people to wait online for hours in order to exercise their democratic right to vote.
We are going through a, through a constitutional amendment or some other way we are going to reach the day when simply and straightforwardly anybody 18 years of age or older has the right to vote, end of discussion. And if Republican governors don’t have the guts to participate in free and fair elections these cowards should get another job. Our job is to create an America in which we have not one of the lowest voter turnouts in the industrialized world, but one of the highest. Our job is to make it easier for people to participate in the political process, not harder.
And when we talk about where we are as a nation all of you know that we are living in a very competitive global economy. And in that context it makes zero sense to me that we have hundreds of thousands of bright and qualified young people who want to go to college, who should be in college, but can’t go to college for one reason. And that is their families lack the income.
That is not what America should be about, and that is why I have introduced legislation and will make happen as President a process in which every public college and university in America is tuition free. And what that is about, and I want you all to appreciate what that is about. It’s telling every kid in Cleveland and in Burlington, Vermont that no matter what your income, the income of your family may be if you study hard, if you do your school work seriously you will be able to get a college education. That’s a big deal. And we are also going to deal with the outrage of millions of people having high interest rates on their student debt.
It makes no sense to me that people are paying six, eight, 10, 12, 14 percent interest rates on student debt when you can refinance a home for three or four percent. And that’s what we are gonna do. We’re gonna allow people with student debt to get the lowest possible interest rates they can find. Now providing free tuition to public colleges and universities and lowering student interest rates is an expensive proposition. We are going to pay for that by imposing a tax on Wall Street speculation. When Wall Street as a result of their greed and recklessness crashed they came running to the Congress and begging us to bail them out. Now it is their turn to help bail out the middle class.
And when, when we talk about our responsibilities as adults, as citizens, as parents one of those responsibilities is to make sure that we leave future generations a planet that is healthy and habitable. Now the debate, the debate is over. Climate change is real. Climate change is already causing devastating problems, and we have a moral responsibility to work with countries around the world to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy. And if we do not do that what the scientists tell us is that by the end of this century this planet will be up to five degrees warmers Fahrenheit than it is today. More drought, more floods, more extreme weather disturbances. We have a moral responsibility to make sure that does not happen.
And when we talk about where we are as a nation we should also recognize that today the United States of America is the only major country on Earth that does not guarantee healthcare to all people as a right. Now I was on the committee that wrote the Affordable Care Act and we have made some good progress in this country through the Affordable Care Act. But we can do better and we must do better. Today in America 29 million people still have zero health insurance and many more are underinsured with large deductibles and copayments. If every other major country on Earth can guarantee healthcare to all of their people in a much more cost effective way than we do healthcare the United States of America can do that also.
Let me, let me jump to an issue which is also, you know, very much on our minds. And that is as a nation the understanding that we have got to put an end to institutional racism in this country. And in that regard I am not just talking about a very sick individual who some months ago, for example, walked into a church a bible study class in Charleston, South Carolina and just killed nine people because of the color of their skin. And I'm not talking about, and it’s always unbelievable to be thinking about this, that we have hundreds of organizations in this country whose sole function is to push forward hatred. Hatred against African Americans, hatred against immigrants, hatred against Catholics, hatred against Jews, that’s what they do.
But I'm not just talking about that. What I am talking about is the fact that in this country we have seen and we have seen much too often too many African Americans unarmed, killed by the police when in custody. And you know, you know the names as well as I do. Whether it’s Sandra Bland or Michael Brown or Rekia Boyd or Eric Garner or Walter Scott or Freddie Gray or Tamir Rice or Timothy Russell or Marlisa (inaudible), I do not want to read about or see and you do not want to read about or see children being shot because they have a toy gun.
You and I do not want to continue to see over 100 bullets being shot into a car. Now as some of you know I am the former mayor of the largest city in the State of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont. And in that capacity I had the privilege of working with our police department and let me tell you what I think most of you know. Most police officers are honest and hardworking and do a very difficult job. The truth is it is very hard to be a police officer today. Many of them are underpaid, they have crazy schedules, that’s the fact. But, but let me also be very clear and that is when any police officer like any other public official breaks the law that officer must be held accountable. So my pledge to you tonight is that no President will work harder than I in ending institutional racism in this country and in reforming, reforming a very, very broken criminal justice system.
So lots to talk about. Let me just mention a few of the things that have to be on for a start. We have got to demilitarize our police departments so that they do not look like, you know, you watch television and you see local police departments they look like they’re invading the community they’re supposed to be serving. A good, a good police department and there are many of them are part of the community, are trusted by the community are not seen as a foreign invading force. We need police departments that reflect the diversity of the communities they serve.
We need new rules for the allowable use of force. Lethal, lethal force is the last resort not the first resort. We need to end the absurdity and I’ve introduced legislation to do this of private corporations making profits by building and running prisons and detention centers. We need to invest in drug courts and medical and mental health intervention, substance addiction should be seen as an illness and treated as such. We need to end minimum sentencing. And very importantly, we need to develop which we do not have today a path back from prison to civil society.
And when we talk about issues facing our country I want everybody here not to forget that there are 11 million people in this country today who are undocumented, who are living in fear and living in the shadows. Those people must have the right of legal status, we must pass comprehensive immigration reform. And we must move toward a path toward citizenship.
What I hope, what I hope that we can do as a nation and as a people is to think big, not small. We are many people don’t know this, but we today are the wealthiest nation in the history of the world. Most people don’t know that because all of the wealth is resting in the hands of a few. Our job is to say that as the wealthiest nation in the history of the world with an enormously productive workforce, with some great universities and scientists and teachers there is nothing if we put our mind to it that we cannot accomplish. Don’t get yourself, don’t get yourself involved in the worldview which says well do we cut education by two percent or raise it by one percent.
That is not that is not the dynamic that we should be looking at. Our job is to say that in the wealthiest country on Earth why isn’t a situation existing in which every parent who is off to work knows that his or her kids is in the best quality Pre-K and childcare in the world? Why can’t we do it? Tell me why. We can do it. Tell me why we cannot do what many other countries do and make sure that everybody in the country has the ability and desire is able to get all of the education they need regardless of their income. Why can’t we do it?
Please, don’t tell me that in this country we have to have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major country on Earth. Don’t tell me we have to have that. Don’t tell me that the United States, that the United States has to be the only major country not to guarantee healthcare to all people or to provide paid family and medical leave. Don’t tell me that the United States has to continue having more income and wealth inequality than any other major country on Earth and have corporations that make billions who end up paying and are giving you almost nothing in taxes. Don’t tell me that that is the country we have to be.
But do tell me that we can have the best healthcare system in the world for all of our people, do tell me that we can lead the world in transforming our energy system and combating climate change. Do tell me that workers in America will not be losing the pensions they were provided, and that our seniors and people with disabilities will in fact see an increase in their Social Security benefits not a cut. Do tell me that together we will end racism and sexism and homophobia. This is the country we can create when we come together, when we stand up and fight back and when we create a government that works for all of us and not just a handful of billionaires. Please, join the political revolution. Thank you all very much.