Democratic Presidential Candidate Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders spoke to supporters at a rally in Columbia, South Carolina. Following his remarks he also took some questions from CSPAN viewers. This is just under two hours.
Symone Sanders: Awe come on Columbia you can do better than that. How are you doing? All right. All right this is our last stop of the evening so we are very excited to be here in Columbia, South Carolina. My name is Symone Sanders and I have the privilege of serving as the National Press Secretary for Bernie 2016. And I will be your M.C. for this evening is that okay? I love your energy. Okay. Before I bring out the man of the hour I wanna chat with you all. Can I chat with you? Okay so did you know three weeks ago America celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act? The voting Rights Act was the Civil Rights Movement’s landmark legislation and three weeks ago we acknowledged how far we have come as a country. But the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision gutting the Voting Rights Act was a shameful step backwards. It was because today we know our voting rights, our family values, the quality of education and black lives are under attack. We know we still have work to do and we need people we trust leading this country to get the work done. Am, am I right? We need new voices that are not afraid to speak truth about the injustices that are plaguing people of color and the plight of every day hard working Americans, right? We need people who know the critical Civil Rights Law which protected voters and places with a history of discrimination is as necessary today as it was during the Jim Crow era. We need people who understand economic inequality and racial inequality are parallel issues that must be addressed simultaneously. People who are committed to reforming the juvenile justice and criminal justice system so we are not locking up a whole generation of people. But, but we are instead ending the disgrace that is the mass incarceration of African-Americans in this country. People who truly believe and are working to ensure every single young person in this country receives a shot at a quality and affordable education. People, people like Bernie Sanders. Now if you believe like I do that Bernie Sanders is the candidate for president we need leading this country, there’s a few things I want to encourage you to do. Are you okay with that? But you’ve already taken the first a very important step by attending this town hall today. Thank you for being here. Give yourselves a round of applause. Step two, step two is turning this passion that you have this, this fervor, this burn that you feel into action and we want you to do that by one visiting our website, www.berniesanders.com and sign up to volunteer. Sign up to host a house party. Donate to the campaign. Y’all, you can clap for the donation. The second thing you can do to get involved is you can pull out your cell phones and you can text Bernie to 82623. That’ll get you in, in real time updates, that’ll get you tangible ways to get involved with the campaign. And the last thing you could do is you can follow us on Twitter @berniesanders on Twitter. We want you to sit back and enjoy tonight. Senator Sanders is gonna come out in just a second but this is really about spreading this message. This multiracial revolution. This this revolution, this fight for criminal justice reform, this fight for social justice, this fight for economic justice, this fight for racial justice. So are you ready? Are you ready? Well at this point in time it is my pleasure and honor to introduce to you the next president of the United States, United States Senator Bernie Sanders.
Thank you. Whoa.
Jane O’Meara Sanders: Okay I’m going.
Okay. Doesn’t look like we could squeeze too many more people in this room. And, and let me say thank you to the many hundreds of people in the overflow room. All right.
Jane O’Meara Sanders: Got it.
Okay. We began this campaign about three and a half months ago. And when we began this campaign people were saying well you know Bernie Sanders an interesting guy, but you know it’s kind of a fringy type candidate. I mean no one takes seriously the idea that maybe just maybe we need a political revolution in America. Maybe just maybe something is wrong when all, almost all of the new income is going to the top 1 percent. Maybe just maybe something is wrong when we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country and more people in jail than any other country. So all over the country in New Hampshire, and in Iowa, all over the country, thousands and thousands of people started coming out. Couple of weeks ago we were in the west coast. We had 15,000 people in Seattle, 28,000 in Portland, Oregon. And we had 27,000 in Los Angeles. So it seems to me that the ideas that we are talking about are not fringe ideas, they are the ideas that the American people support. This is a campaign on the move and it’s a campaign that’s gonna win here in South Carolina and all across the country. But the enthusiasm and the excitement for this campaign is not just large turnouts like we saw earlier today in Greenville and we’re seeing here in Columbia. What it is, is that I think people also understand that there is something profoundly wrong when millionaires and billionaires today control our political system. Well let me be very clear. I do not represent the billionaires’ agenda. I do not want their money. We are not going to have any super pack at all. We are raising money for this campaign in the very old fashioned way. Small contributions from some 400,000 Americans, average contribution $31.20. I’m proud of that. What this campaign is about is bringing people together with the understanding that if we do not allow ourselves to be divided, if we stand together as black, and white and Hispanic, Native American, men and women, straight and gay, native born and immigrant, if we stand together they may have all of the money, they may have all of the power but we have the people and when people stand together we win. You know wherever I go around the country, you know media come up to me and they say you know we’re really surprised why is there so much excitement? Why is there so much enthusiasm? Why are you moving up in the polls? And let me tell you what my answer is to them. My answer is that the American people are sick and tired with establishment politics. They are sick and tired with establishment economics. And frankly they are sick and tired of establishment media. The people of our country fully understand that corporate greed, this never-ending greed of needing more and more and more no matter how much they have, that corporate greed is destroying our economy. And they also understand and I speak to you as the former Chairman of the Senate Veterans Committee. The American people also understand that men and women throughout our history have put their lives on the line and sometimes lost their lives, defending democracy and that there is something profoundly wrong when billionaires are buying elections. That’s not democracy. And the American people also understand that at a time when this country faces so many enormous problems, when we need so much serious discussion, that much of the corporate media will talk about everything in the world except the most important issues facing working Americans. Let me be as clear as I can be. This campaign is not about Bernie Sanders, it is not about Hillary Clinton, it is not about Donald Trump, Jed Bush or anyone else. This campaign is about you, your kids, your parents, and the future of this country. As someone who has run for office a number of times in my state of Vermont I have never run a negative political ad in my life. Because I believe that what politics and a democracy is about is to take a hard look at the serious problems facing our country and propose ideas and let the American people discuss them. I think it’s absurd for politicians to say I’m great, I’m wonderful, everybody else is terrible. That’s wrong. What we need is a serious discussion about the serious issued facing our country and that’s what this campaign is about. And our campaign is different from other campaigns not only in terms of the fact that we have the most progressive vision, but more importantly in how we are running this campaign. I believe, and let me be honest with you and tell you what no other candidate for president will you, that no matter who is elected president of the United States, no matter how good he or she may be, that person cannot address the enormous problems facing working families and the middle class because of the power of big money interest in this country. That is the truth and it’s an uncomfortable truth. So what I am calling for is not just your support to elect me as president, I am asking you to be part of a political revolution, a revolution which transforms our country economically, politically, socially, and environmentally. And let me tell you what this political movement is about.
Unidentified Male: I love you Bernie.
Thank you. I love you too. What this political movement is about is millions of people from coast to coast standing up and saying loudly and clearly, enough is enough, this great nation and our government belong to all of us not just a handful of billionaires. The truth is, it’s a sad truth, but the truth is that our country today faces more serious problems than at any time in the modern history of our country and if you throw in the global crisis of climate change, the problems may be worse today. But we are not going to solve the problems unless we address those problems. So let me take this opportunity to talk a little bit about some of the major problems facing our country. And I start with the issue of income and wealth inequality. Now today as some of you know we live in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, wealthiest country in the history of the world. But most Americans don’t understand that, don’t perceive that, don’t feel that because they’re too busy working two or three jobs, while almost all of the new income and wealth are going to the top 1 percent. The truth is that the United States today, has more income and wealth inequality than any other major industrialized nation on earth, and the inequality today if you can believe it is worse than at any time since 1928. So what is essentially happening in our country, the people on the top are getting richer and richer, everybody else is becoming poorer and poorer. The truth of the matter is, that no great nation can survive economically, morally, or politically, when so few have so much and so many have so little. There is something profoundly wrong and profoundly immoral, and by the way I think it’s important that we start injecting morality into our political (inaudible). There is something profoundly wrong when the top one tenth of 1 percent, you got that? Not 1 percent, one tenth of 1 percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. There is something profoundly wrong when in recent years, we have seen a proliferation of millionaires and billionaires but all over our country millions of people are working longer hours for lower wages and we end up with the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country on earth. There is something profoundly wrong when one family, one family, this is America not Paraguay, not some small third world country, where one family in America, the Walton family of Walmart, own more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of the American people. When millions of people are working longer hours for lower wages when in my state, and I’m sure it’s true in South Carolina as well, many of our people are working two or three jobs, working crazy hours, trying to get some income and healthcare to take care of their family, when all of that is going on while at the same time a handful of billionaires are making out like bandits, this is a rigged economy, a rigged economy. And together you and I and millions of other Americans are gonna change that. We are gonna create an economy that works for the middle class and working families, not just a handful of billionaires. This campaign is sending a simple and straight forward message to the billionaire class. And that is you cannot, you will not have it all. The CEOs of large corporations and the billionaire class are not going to continue to get huge tax breaks when children in America go hungry. They are not going to continue to send our jobs to China and other low wage countries when millions of Americans are in desperate need of work right here. Corporate America and the billionaire class are not gonna hide their many billions in profits by putting them in the Cayman Islands and in other tax havens. They are gonna start paying their fair share of taxes. And whether they like it or not their greed is going to end because we are gonna end it for them. And when we talk about the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality let me bring it on home right here to what it means to the people in South Carolina. In the last two years, last two years, the wealthiest 14 people in America, 14 people, saw their wealth increase by $156 billion. But here in South Carolina, while 14 people saw an unbelievable increase in their wealth, 27 percent of the children here are living in poverty, almost 300,000 children. 14 people increased in wealth $156 billion, 27 percent of the kids in South Carolina living in poverty. Of those children living in poverty, 138,000 are black, 95,000 are white and 34,000 are Hispanic. Childhood poverty impacts people all across the board. It is a national disgrace. And here is the reality. Let’s lay it right on the table. Billionaires become much richer while children in South Carolina and all over America lack adequate nutrition. In the year 2015, in South Carolina, in Vermont, and throughout America children are going hungry. It is not acceptable that billionaires become richer when kids in this country go hungry. Look, if we are a moral people we stand with the most vulnerable people, the most defenseless people in our society. To turn our backs on the children while billionaires get richer is not what this country is supposed to be about. And when we talk about human rights, and when we talk about basic needs let us not forget that we are the only major industrialized country on earth that does not guarantee healthcare to all people as a right. Now I live, I live in Burlington, Vermont, it’s an hour away from the Canadian border. The Canadians guarantee healthcare to every one of their men, women and child. In the UK, they guarantee healthcare to all of their people. Germany does it, France does it, Scandinavia does it. Every major country on earth does it except us and that is why I strongly believe in a Medicare for all single-payer programs. I believe in single-payer but that’s not what congress believed in but the congress did pass and the president did sign the Affordable Care Act. A modest but important step forward. By expanding eligibility for Medicaid, millions of Americans now have health insurance who previously lacked it. That is a good thing. The Affordable Care Act, for example has cut Arkansas’ uninsured population almost in half. It has reduced the number of uninsured in Kentucky, from 20 percent to 12 percent. In South Carolina, in South Carolina, over 200,000 people would gain health insurance if the governor and legislature would approve the expansion of Medicaid. And not only would several hundred thousand people gain health insurance, the state would create tens of thousands of decent paying jobs. And the federal government picks up almost all of the bill. Pretty good deal. In my view it is wrong, terribly wrong, to allow a rigid, right-wing political ideology to stand in the way of healthcare for hundreds of thousands of South Carolinians. It is wrong to allow hundreds of people in your beautiful state to die unnecessarily because they can’t get to a doctor when they should. It is wrong and immoral to have a situation where people will suffer and become much sicker than they otherwise would have been because they don’t have Medicaid. That’s wrong. And I would hope very much that not only here in South Carolina but all across this country, republican governors and legislatures would let go for one minute of their right-wing ideology, and take care of the people of their states. I understand that some of these governors and some of these legislatures, hate president Obama. You can hate president Obama but don’t hate the kids and the working families in your state. But the issues we are talking about are not just the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality, it is the reality as all of you know that for the last 40 years, the great middle class of our country once the envy of the world has been disappearing. Now the truth is, as you all know, we are much better economically today, than we were when George Bush left office. Let us not forget that when Bush left office, we were hemorrhaging 800,000 jobs a month. Our financial system was on the verge of collapse and we were running up a $1.4 trillion deficit. And I find it interesting republicans complain they’re only growing 250,000 jobs a month. Well it’s a hell of a lot better than losing 800,000 jobs (inaudible). But here is the point. Yes we are better off today than we were when Bush left office, that’s true. But the reality is that millions of Americans today are working longer hours, for lower wages. All of you know there has been an explosion in technology making workers far more productive than they used to be. And yet many of those workers, despite increase3d productivity have seen their real wages go down. Since 1999 medium family income today is almost $5,000 less than it was in 1999. So that is, that is our reality. We’re better off than we were six and a half years ago, but we continue to slide and see the disappearance of our middle class. And what we have got to do is come up with proposal after proposal that rebuilds the crumbling middle class in this country and that’s what we intend to do. Well let me tell you something that very few people will tell you. Every month U.S. government comes out with figures. Last figure says unemployment in America is 5.3 percent. Wrong that official statistic does not include those people who’ve given up looking for work, and the millions of people who are working part-time. Add all that together real unemployment over 10 percent further. And this is really something we must deal with. We cannot continue to push under the rug. I ask the Economic Policy Institute in D.C. to do a study on youth unemployment. Do you know what youth unemployment is in this country? In terms of kids who have no jo0bs or are working part-time when they wanna work full-time, what the EPI told us is that for kids 17 to 20 who graduated High school if they were white, youth unemployment 33 percent. If they were Hispanic, youth unemployment 36 percent. If they were African American youth unemployment 51 percent. We are turning our backs on an entire generation of young people who wanna stand on their own two feet. Let me tell you, let me tell you something else. One of the great shames in our country, one of the great international embarrassments, is we as a nation have more people in jail than any other country. China, a nation three times larger than us, a communist authoritarian country has fewer people in jail than we do. And if anybody here thinks there is not a connection between huge rates of youth unemployment and kids ending up in jail you would be very, very mistaken. Right now, right now, in my state in your state and all over this country, we got five and a half million young people who are not in school, who are not working who are hanging out on street corners and getting into trouble. Now in my view it makes a lot more sense for us to be investing in education and in jobs. It makes more sense to be investing in our young people than in jails and incarceration. And when we, when we, when we talk about the economy, it’s not just income and wealth inequality and it is not just high rates of unemployment that we have to address it is the simple fact that everybody in this room knows that millions of our people are working at wages that are too damn low. The current minimum wage at the federal level of $7.25 an hour, $7.25 an hour, is a starvation wage. And our job is to raise the federal minimum wage to a living wage 15 bucks an hour over the next several years. It is not a radical idea to say that if somebody works 40 hours a week that person should not be living in poverty. And when we talk about fairness and wages I hope very much that every man in this room will stand with the women and demand pay equity for women workers. There are too many women in America trying to bring up their families who are making 78 cents on the dollar compared to men. Pay equity will take a huge chunk out of poverty in America and we must fight to establish pay equity. I think all of you know that many of my republican colleagues run around the country and they talk about family values. They, they just love families. But you know, you all know what they mean when they talk about family values. What they are saying is that women in America should not be able to control their own bodies. I disagree. What they are saying in their concept of family values is that women are too dumb to be able to buy the contraceptives they need, I disagree. And what they are also saying in their understanding of family values is that our gay brothers and sisters should not be able to get married and enjoy all of the benefits of American citizenship I disagree. I am very fortunate to have four kids, seven grandchildren and Jane and I have been married for 27 years. And we believe we believe in family and we believe in strongly protecting the needs of families but my family values are a little bit different than republican family values. When I talk about family values I believe that the United States must end the international embarrassment of being the only, only major country on earth that does not guarantee workers, paid medical and family leave. When a woman has a baby today if she has the income and the financial support she can stay home and get to love her baby bond with her baby and it is obviously one of for those of us who are parents, one of the most amazing experiences of being human. And it’s pretty important for the baby as well. That’s a family value. It is a family value when mom stays home, nourishes her baby, gets to know her baby, dad is there as well. It is not a family value to tell that mom that just because you don’t have money you have to separate yourself from your baby and go back to work in five days or eight days. That is not a family value. And that is why I have supported and will fight for legislation that guarantees every family 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. That is a family value and if every other major country on earth could do it, United States of America can do it too. And by the way, we remain the only major country on earth that does not guarantee sick time to our workers or paid vacation that’s gotta change too. With real unemployment over 10 percent, youth unemployment much higher than that, we need a major federal jobs program to put millions of people back to work. At a time when our infrastructure is crumbling, our roads, our bridges, our water systems, waste water plants, airports, rail, levees, damns, there is more than enough work to do. And I’ve introduced legislation. A trillion dollar investment over five years can create up to 13 million decent paying jobs. But when we talk about jobs it is not only the absolute imperative of having to create millions of jobs, it is also the absolute need to prevent the loss of more jobs because of our disastrous trade policies. You are looking at a senator and a former member of the house who voted against NAFTA, CAFTA and permanent normal trade relations with China. And you are looking at a senator who will lead the effort against the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We need, we need trade policies which create jobs in America not in countries around the world. And when we use words like greed and recklessness and arrogance and dishonesty, we are providing only some of the adjectives to describe Wall Street. All of you know, all of you know that as a result of the greed and recklessness of Wall Street, our economy was brought to its knees, millions of people lost their jobs, their houses and their life savings. Today after bailing out Wall Street because they were, “too big to fail”, three out of the four largest banks are bigger now than they were before we bailed them out. In my view, and let me be very clear about this, when you have six banks issuing two thirds of the credit cards in this country, 35 percent of the mortgages in this country, when you have banks that are too big to fail, they are too big to exist. We need a financial system which provides affordable loans to small and medium sized businesses so they can create the jobs we need. We do not need a financial system on Wall Street which is an island unto itself which is only concerned about profits for a handful of people. I am often asked, I’m often asked, well Bernie, which of the issues out there is the most important and it’s impossible to answer because all of these issues are enormously important. But here is one issue that impacts every other issue and that is five years ago as you all know, the Supreme Court by a five to four decision in the Citizens United, in the Citizens United case, what they said to the wealthiest people in this country they said you guys already own much of the economy we are now going to allow you to own the United States government. And that is exactly what they are trying to do right now. We have a situation right now where one family the extreme right-wing Koch Brothers, the second, the second wealthiest family in America is prepared to spend some $900 million in this election cycle. 900 million. That is more money than either the Democratic Party or the Republican Party will spend. When you have one family spending more money than either of the major political parties, that is not democracy, that is oligarchy and we’ve gotta overturn them. I have not made many campaign promises but this is one I have made and I repeat to you. No nominee of mine to the United States Supreme Court will get that positon unless he or she is loud and clear in saying that one of their first orders of business will in fact to rehear and overturn Citizens United. I am a passionate believer in democracy. I really believe in democracy, and what that means. What that very radical idea means. Only a few hundred years old. What that idea means is that you and people all over this country poor people, old people, anybody, has the right to determine and shape the future of our country and not just a king or a queen or a handful of billionaires. That is a radical idea that I believe. And in my view, not only must we overturn Citizens United, we’ve got to go further. I want to see this country have the most vibrant democracy of any country on earth. I wanna see us have one of the highest voter turnouts not one of the lowest voter turnouts. I want to see a process in which anybody in this room, anybody in America, whether you’re conservative, progressive, moderate, whatever you may be, if you believe that you wanna get into public service, you wanna run for office, you believe in your ideas, I want to see you be able to run for office without begging money from the wealthy and the powerful. Couple of weeks ago in Washington, I was in an event with Martin Luther King, III, and people in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a very good civil rights organization and what, what we talked about at that meeting was to first of all celebrate the 50th anniversary and Symone mentioned this earlier, the 50th anniversary of the enormously important Voting Rights Act. Okay? And what the Voting Rights Act was about was to say to governors and legislatures all over this country, many in the South, to say sorry all people are gonna be able to vote regardless of the color of their skin. That was a, that was a great step forward for democracy. But as many of you know, two years ago, the Supreme Court gutted a very important provision of the Voting Rights Act. And what has happened is all over the country, not just in the South, but all over this country, governors and legislatures have done everything possible to suppress the vote, to deny people the right to vote because those people disagree with the powers that be in their own state. You know, and I take that kinda personally and I’ll tell you why. I have run for office in my own state many, many times. Sometimes I’ve lost, most times I’ve won, but it has never occurred to me, never, not for one second to say let’s see, there are parts of the state that are not sympathetic to me, how do I figure out a way to prevent those people from voting. And anybody, right. If you cannot run for office and defend your ideas, then you shouldn’t run for office in the first place. People, legislatures, governors, who try to prevent people from voting because they may vote against the governor or the legislatures are nothing less than political cowards. I have introduced legislation which more or less says that if you are 18 years of age in the United States of America you are registered to vote, end of discussion. I think all of you know that the world we are living in is a very competitive global economy. And if our nation is going to succeed economically, we need to have the best educated work force in the world. And what saddens me very, very much is as we speak here tonight, there are hundreds of thousands of bright young men and women, all across this country, kids who have done really well in school, kids who are qualified to get into college, but they can’t get into college for one reason. Their families lack the money. To my mind it is not only unfair to these kids to deny them the right to become doctors or engineers or teachers or scientists or whatever else, not only unfair to them to pull the ladder out from underneath them, but it is absurd when we talk about the future of the American economy. We need to have the best educated workers in the world. And that is why I have introduced legislation which does two very important things. First, it says that every public college and university in America will be tuition free. And I wanna tell you why this idea, this simple idea, is a revolutionary idea. It’s not just that it will make life easier for kids in high school to get to college, it will certainly do that, but this is what else it will do. Today in Columbia, in Burlington, Vermont, there are kids in the fourth and sixth grade, these are kids whose mom and dad never went to college which is the case in my family. These are kids who don’t know anybody who went to college and the idea of going to college of making it into the middle class is something beyond their wildest expectations or dreams. But if we tell every kid in Columbia, and in Burlington, Vermont, that if you study if you pay attention to school, if you do your work, you will be able to get a college education. It will impact kids from the first grade on up and the second thing that we have done in our legislation is to address the absurdity of millions of Americans, some young some not so young, who are struggling with horrendously oppressive student debt. I have talked to a young woman whose crime in life was she went to medical school and is practicing primary healthcare for low-income people. Exactly the kind of doctors we need but, but for doing that she came out of school $300,000 in debt. And then I was in Iowa a few months ago. Young woman came up to me she said, I just graduated dental school, $400,000 in debt, at a time when we have a major dental crisis and we need more dentists. I talked to young people who were paying off 20, 25 percent of their limited incomes in student debt, can’t afford to get married, can’t afford to get a car, can’t afford to get a home. Now in my view it makes no sense at all, that if you can refinance your home today at 2, or 3 or 4 percent, you should not be paying 8 or 10 percent on your student debt. Further, the federal government which holds most of that debt should not profiteering with high interest rates off working class Americans. Now people say to me all of the time well Bernie that’s a good idea. It’s an important issue but you know it’s gonna be pretty expensive to provide public colleges and universities tuition free and lower student debt. How are you gonna pay for it? Well let me tell you exactly how I’m gonna pay for it. With a tax on Wall Street speculation. When Wall Street destroyed this economy because of their greed and recklessness they went begging tot eh middle class to bail them out. Now it is Wall Street’s time to bail out the middle class. When we talk about our responsibilities as human beings, as parents, as adults, there is perhaps nothing more important than leaving this planet in a way that is habitable for our kids and our grandchildren. The debate is over. The scientific community in a virtually unanimous voice has told us climate change is real climate change is caused by human activity and climate change is already today, causing devastating problems in our country and all over the world. And what the scientists tell us if we do not get our act together in a very short period of time, a bad situation today will become much, much worse with the planet’s temperature rising by the end of the century between 5 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit. More drought, more flood, more extreme weather disturbances, more rising sea levels, more acidification of the ocean. The United States has the moral responsibility to lead the world in transforming our energy system, in transforming our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy. Let me say a word about values and priorities. I am the ranking member on the senate budget committee which means I’m the leader of the democrats in opposition. And I wanna just tell you for a moment what many of you don’t know. Because the media forgot to talk about it. And that is the budget passed by the republicans a few months ago does the following. It froze 27 million Americans off of healthcare, it cuts Pell grants by 90 billion over a 10 year period, it cuts nutrition programs including the WIC program for pregnant women and their little kids by billions and billions of dollars. Those are the priorities of the Republican Party. Those are not America’s priorities. And to add insult to injury, not only are they making massive cuts in healthcare, education, nutrition and other vitally important programs, their budget proposes to give $250 billion in tax breaks to the top two tenths of 1 percent. So let me tell my republican colleagues, no we are not going to cut Social Security we are gonna expand Social Security. No we are not going to cut veterans programs, we’re going to expand veterans programs. And we are going to provide the best quality healthcare to our veterans who have put their lives on the line to defend this country. And when we talk about making our country the kind of nation that it must become, we must talk about ending institutional racism and making major reforms to our broken criminal justice system. Now the good news, the good news is that over the last several decades, our country has made significant progress in overcoming our long legacy of racism. Now we should be proud of that. If people were sitting in this room 30 years ago and somebody said you know I think in America, saying the year 2008, an African American could be elected president that the people of America will go beyond the color of one’s skin and look at his ideas, his views, people would have said no. It wouldn’t happen that fast. But it did happen and we should be proud of that. We should be proud, we should be proud of the progress we have made and the struggle absolutely continues against sexism in this country and opening doors to women that never existed before. God only knows that that struggle continues but we are making progress. And we should be very proud of the extraordinary progress we have made in recent years in the fight for gay rights. Something we should be very proud of. Now that is the good news. And we as Americans deserve a pat on the back for doing making real progress in making us a less discriminatory society in many respects. But here is the bad news. And that is, is everyone in this room knows racism remains a much too real part of American life. And in that regard I am not just talking about the sickness of a man who could walk into a bible study class in Charleston, pray with people in that room and then take out a gun and kill nine of them. That is just something that is almost impossible for us to understand how somebody can do that. And we are not just talking about other forms of racism that we see every single day. We are not just talking about the hundreds of hate groups that exist all over this country. Groups that exist for one purpose alone. And that is to foment it’s hard to imagine but to foment hatred against African Americans, or gays or immigrants or Jews. People who are different than them. And we have got to take by the way a hard look at those groups justice Department should be much more active in making sure these are the types of groups that, “educated” that sick man who committed the atrocity in Charleston. But I’m not just talking about those groups. I am talking about people like Sandra Bland and Michael Brown and Rekia Boyd. And Walter Scott and Freddie Gray and many, many unarmed African Americans who died at the hands of police officers or in police custody. Now I was a mayor for eight years and let me be the first to tell you as someone who worked very hard with our police department that being a cop today is not an easy job, and most police officers are honest and are trying to do their best in difficult circumstances. But let me also tell you, that as in the case of any other public official when a police officer breaks the law that officer must be held accountable. Further we need fundamental reform of a broken, broken criminal justice system. There’s a lot to talk about but let me very briefly highlight some of the areas that I believe we need to move aggressively in. When I turn on the TV and I see in some cities small cities all over America, police departments that are heavily militarized, that look like an invading army, that’s wrong. The best police department in America are police departments that are part of the community. Where people feel comfortable with police officers that are able to say look there’s a crack house down the street or that guy’s a drug dealer. Where people have confidence in a police force that is working with them not against them. When I was mayor of Burlington, we moved toward the concept of community policing. Something that I think we should do. Making police officers part of the community. We also and police departments are run by local communities but the federal government can play an important role. Police departments all across America should reflect the diversity of the community they serve. We also need to take a hard look at the use of force doctrine that exists in many police departments. Good police officers, and I’ve seen it personally many, many times, are able to deflect a volatile situation. That’s good police work. And many officers are trained to do that. And that’s tough stuff. I’ve seen police officers get in the middle of a fight, separate people. We should understand that lethal force is the last resort, not the first. We need to begin rethinking the war on drugs. I find it remarkable and disturbing that many young Americans have received a criminal record for smoking or possessing marijuana but not one major Wall Street executive has a criminal record for destroying our economy. When congress reconvenes in September I will be offering legislation which ends the absurdity and unjustice(sic) of private corporations making profits by building and running jails. Corporations should not be making a profit on the incarceration of Americans. Further, further, we need to understand that substance addiction whether it’s drugs or alcohol or whatever, is a disease, is a disease. It is a serious disease that exists in my state, exists all over this country. And we need to aggressively treat that disease and not see it as a crime. And that means that we need to invest in drug courts and medical and mental health intervention. It is pretty crazy situation, it is an absurd situation when many of the people in jail are mentally ill. And I can tell you I get calls in my offices, other senators get calls from people who say you know what my brother, I’m really worried about him I don’t know what he’s gonna do to himself, I don’t know what he’s gonna do to somebody else. But we cannot find the mental health counseling that we need and can afford. That’s crazy. And we also need to develop a path back from prison. Nobody should be shocked that if somebody leaves prison without a job, without education, without decent housing, they will go back to the environment that they got into jail in the first place. So we have got a lot of work to do on criminal justice but keep in mind it costs more money to keep somebody in jail than to send them to Harvard. And when we talk about bringing our people together let us not forget that today there are 11 million undocumented people in this country. I was in phoenix a few weeks ago talking to a group of young Hispanic kids, tears rolling out of their eyes because they were fearful of being deported or having their parents deported. We need to provide legal protection now for the undocumented, we need comprehensive immigration reform and we need a path towards citizenship. A number of years ago, as all of you will recall, there was a fierce debate about whether the United States should go to war in Iraq. I listened to what Bush and Chaney and Don Rumsfeld had to say and I didn't believe them. I voted against the war in Iraq. And, and it doesn’t make me happy, it surely doesn’t to tell you that much of what I said during that debate go to YouTube look at what I said during that debate, sadly much of what I feared would happen did happen in terms of the destabilization of the region and now as you know there’s another debate and that debate will come to some fruition I suppose in September with a vote about the president’s plan to make certain that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon. Now I find it astounding that many of my republican colleagues seem to have forgotten what the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have done to our people and our country. They forgot about the 6700 brave men and women who died, they forgot about the young men who came home without legs and arms and eyesight. They forgot about the 500,000 who came home with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury. And, and by the way if this country stands for anything we have got to stand with those people who came home from war injured in body and soul. But now, now the debate is over Iran. And whether or not congress should approve the agreement worked on by the president and Secretary Kerry. Well I don’t think this is a perfect agreement. The United States had to negotiate with five other countries, plus Germany, plus Iran but I believe that we should do everything possible to see that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon without going to war. And it really, really does trouble me how quickly and how easily and how glibly in a sense people say oh no we don’t want this agreement, we don’t trust Iran, we don’t like Iran and what they’re really saying is yeah we’re gonna go to war against Iran. Now a great nation is a nation that does everything possible to cultivate in this very difficult and crazy world. Believe me nobody, nobody has any answers to all of the craziness in this world, ISIS and everything else. But we should be a leader in the world in trying to resolve international conflict in a peaceful way and not in another war. All right you have been very kind tonight in this rather hot room. For somebody who is, let me close by just saying two things. First, this campaign honestly is not about me. It is about all of us. I cannot do it alone. We need millions of people to reach out, to bring people into the political process, to make certain that our friends and family do not continue to vote against their own best interests. And the second and last point that I wanna make is I want you all not to think small. I want you to think big. This is the wealthiest country in the history (inaudible). If we were a poor country, if we were a Haiti, if we were a small country we would say well it’s too bad we can’t do this, we can’t do that. That is not America. We can, we can join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee healthcare to all people as a right. We can have the best childcare system in the world, not a dysfunctional one. We can join other countries and make sure that every person in this country regardless of income can get a higher education. We can make certain that every senior in our country can live in dignity and security. We can make certain that every veteran who has put his or her life on the line to defend us gets the quality of healthcare and benefits they have earned. And we can make certain that no American regardless of their race, their religion, their disability or their sexual orientation we can make sure that all Americans realize the full potential of equality that is our birthright as Americans. If we stand together as a nation if we do not allow them to divide us up by race or sexual orientation or the country we came from, there is nothing, nothing that together we cannot accomplish. Thank you all very much.
Q = Unidentified Male; Symone Sanders; Jane O'Meara Sanders
A = Bernie Sanders
U = Unidentified Speaker
(INAUDIBLE) = Areas that could not be heard due to background noise, tape/phone line quality, muffled speaking, etc.