Bernie Sanders: Thank you. Good morning, and you asked me to follow Nina Turner, thanks very much, can’t do that, but I'll, I will do my best. All right, let me begin by thanking all of you, not only for what you do in fighting for women’s rights, but for what you’re doing to expand and improve our democracy. One of the reasons, and let me be very blunt about this, one of the reasons that I’m running for President of the United States is that I worry very much that both economically and politically our country is sliding into oligarchy.
Now I know this is not an issue that you’re gonna see discussed much on TV, but it is the reality of what’s happening in America. We are the wealthiest country in the history of the world, but as we speak here and meet here this morning, millions and millions of families are struggling to feed their kids. We have the highest rate, shamefully, of poverty of any major country on earth, and 40 percent of African American kids are living in poverty, all at the same time, as 58 percent of all new income is going to the top one percent, and the top one-tenth of one percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.
And, as a nation, we are gonna have to ask ourselves whether it is morally acceptable, whether it is economically sustainable, that so few have so much while so many have so little. In my view, that has got to change and we need an economy that works for working families. But it is not just economics, it is politics. As a result of the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, millionaires and billionaires are pouring unlimited sums of money into the political process through Super PACs and independent expenditures.
In the last election, last November, 63 percent of the American people didn’t vote, 80 percent of young people didn’t vote, and in today, millionaires and billionaires are buying the election. Is that what democracy in this country is supposed to be about? I think not.
Now, the truth is, as all of you know, Republicans win when voter turnout is low, when millions of people turn their backs on the political process, when they look to Washington and they say I’m working longer hours for lower wages, what are you doing for me, when they’re saying, I don’t have any health insurance, what are you doing for me, when they say I can’t afford to send my little baby in to decent quality child care, what are you doing to, for me, can’t afford to send my older kids to college, what are you doing for me, and when people give up on the political process and don’t vote in large numbers, when Republican governors suppress the vote, when the Koch Brothers and other billionaires try to buy elections, Republicans win and we lose.
So what do we do? What we do is make it clear that in this country we need a political revolution, that establishment politics, the same old, same old ain’t gonna do it, that establishment economics is not going to do it. You wanna win an election? I'll tell you how you win an election from The White House on down. You rally millions of working class people who have given up on the political process. You rally young people who have given up on the political process.
You bring people together who are prepared to say, loudly and clearly, enough is enough, our government belongs to all of us, not just a handful of billionaires, and if we do not do that, and if this is a same old, same old type of election, and if millions of working people and young people do not participate, Republicans will win and we will lose. So, lemme tell you, I am extremely gratified, in my campaign so far, that we have rallied hundreds of thousands of people to come out to our meetings and our events, that we have 750 thousand individuals who have made campaign contributions, not million dollar contributions to Super PACs but $30 apiece, more individual contributions than any campaign at this (inaudible) in American history.
We win when people come together, when we reject the division of men versus women, of straight versus gay, of black versus white, of people born in this country as opposed to people born in another country, that is what they wanna do, and we win elections when we stand together and we say, you know what, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, the wealthiest people and the largest corporations are going to start paying their fair share of taxes.
We win elections when we say to the working people in this country, we know you can’t make it on eight or nine bucks an hour and that is why we’re gonna raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and that is why we’re gonna win the election when we say to women there is no rational economic reason that women make 79 cents on the dollar compared to men. We’re gonna have pay equity.
We win an election in which we say to working families, yes, when you go to work, you are going to have quality child care and pre-K for your little ones. We win this election when we say to the unemployed, we’re gonna rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and create millions of decent paying jobs. We’re gonna win this election when we say to young people, and all people, that we wonder what world the Republicans are living in when they deny science and refuse to go forward in helping us combat climate change. We win this election when we make it clear that women have fought too long and too hard to lose control over their own bodies.
We win this election when we stand up boldly and say, no, you’re not gonna cut or defund Planned Parenthood, you’re gonna put more money into Planned Parenthood. So, sisters and brothers, we are at an historical moment in American history. The crises that we face today, in many ways, are worse than at any time since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and, in my view, the, what this election is about is not just electing a President, far, far more significantly it is about transforming the United States of America. It is about understanding that there is something very, very wrong, where the United States of America is the only major country on earth that does not guarantee paid family and medical leave, how does that happen?
The only major country on earth that does not guarantee paid sick time or paid vacation time. How does that happen? The only major country on earth that doesn’t guarantee healthcare to every man, woman, and child as a right. So, what this campaign is truly about is to bringing people together by the tens of millions, and that’s tough, that is tough stuff to do, but if we do that, we’re not just gonna win this election, we are gonna win it by a landslide because what happens is, how many people in your communities believe, as the Republicans do, that we should cut Social Security, cut Medicare, cut Medicaid, cut federal aid to education, and then give hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the top two, two-tenths of one percent?
Nobody believes that. But Republicans can win elections because so many people have given up on the political process and what this campaign is about is revitalizing American democracy by bringing people together to stand up and fight for the promise of what this great country can be. We can be a nation in which the middle class grows, not shrinks. We can be a nation in which we do not have the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country, and more economic and wealth disparity, we can do that.
But in order to do that, we’re gonna have to do something that is pretty hard, pretty, pretty, pretty hard, to quote Larry David, and this is what we have to do. In the last many decades, as everybody in this room knows because you have been part of the process, we have made significant progress in becoming a less-discriminatory society and we should be proud of that. We should be proud that in 2008, the American people decided to vote for a candidate based on his program and his ideas and his character, not the color of his skin.
We should be proud that, all over this country, as a result of your efforts and those that came before you, women have made extraordinary progress in breaking down discriminatory barriers, and, by the way, we are not going back, we’re gonna go forward. And if we were here ten years ago, and somebody jumped up and said, you know I think that gay marriage will be made legal in every state in this country, somebody else would have asked them what they were smoking, which raises another issue. But we have, but we have made progress. We’ve made progress in women’s rights, in gay rights, in civil rights, we still have a long way to go in all of those areas, but we should be proud of what we have accomplished.
But here is where we have not made progress. We have not made progress in the economic struggle. We have lost ground. Today, men and women, in many cases, are working longer hours for lower wages, that’s a fact, and almost all of the new wealth and income is going to the people on top. So the essential question, in terms of the economic struggle, is are we prepared to organize and to take on the billionaire class, which, today, has so much economic and political power, that is the question. And if we are not successful in doing that, my prediction to you is that the rich will continue to get richer while most everybody else gets poorer.
My prediction to you is that the Republicans, who do not believe Citizens United went far enough, wanna get rid of all campaign finance regulations, will simply be able, through the Koch Brothers and others, to give checks of hundreds of millions of dollars to the candidates of their choice, in other words, having candidates become employees of their corporate interests. That’s the future, if we do not educate and if we do not organize.
But I have confidence that we can do both. I have confidence that if we come forward with a progressive strong agenda that is prepared to stand up to corporate America, is prepared to stand up to the Koch Brothers and the billionaire class, that is prepared to outline an agenda which will improve the lives of tens of millions of our people. We cannot only win The White House, regain the Senate and the House, gain Governor’s Chairs all over America, not only can we do that, but much more importantly, we can transform this country and make it the country we all know that it can become. Thank you all very much.