SPEECH AT THE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS
PRESQUE ISLE, MAINE, MARCH 6, 2016
I stole the idea on the poster about justice from a Face Book post. Most of what I say today is stolen from research I have done because I am so disturbed about the state of the world, and I want real and lasting solutions not just more tweaking around the edges. I supported Bernie Sanders for president before he became a candidate. His values, goals, and public record offer the best hope for achieving justice with all the issues I worry most about.
I worry about how the power and influence of money in our political system which negatively affects all the other issues I care about. Hillary Clinton claims she will stand up to those powers, but she receives from Wall Street and big banks 6-figure speaking fees and millions of dollars in donations to her campaign and foundation. Studies consistently show that money influences the behavior of all of us in the direction of loyalty to the source of money. Sanders funds his campaign with small contributions averaging $27 each from people like me. His refusal to accept money from businesses and banks too big to fail means his political loyalty will be to contributors who care about social justice and the constitutional promise to “promote the general welfare” and not the corporate welfare.
I worry about the economic well-being of the dwindling middle class, the loss of labor union power to offset the power of the rich, the stagnation of wages, and the increasing numbers of working poor. Our economy is rigged by the richest 1 % through campaign contributions, lobbying, mass advertising, ownership, and other types of cozy relationships established with politicians and the media. Sanders wants to raise the minimum age to 15% over a period of time, to fix our crumbling infrastructure which will create millions of good-paying jobs, and he wants to make the richest pay their fair share of taxes. Clinton says these plans are too ambitious, but they are no more radical than have already been accomplished in our history by the likes of Roosevelt and Eisenhower, the Republican who created the largest Public Works program in history with the construction of the Interstate Highway system. Government programs of the mid-20th century period created the most prosperous economy of our entire history. Bernie is fighting to create that kind of prosperity again.
I worry about the restoration of the environment so polluted by the big- money interests of the carbon-energy industrial complex that the whole earth is endangered. The Clinton Foundation accepts millions of dollars from major oil companies. At home and abroad, she promotes drilling for oil and natural gas, including fracking, which will add to global warming. Sanders wants to tax the polluters to pay for accelerating the transition to clean energy and creating millions of good paying jobs by investing in clean energy.
I worry about the need for a national expanded and improved Medicare-for-all which Sanders promotes. Clinton wants to tweak the Affordable Care Act which would do nothing about getting the insurance companies out of the health care business. She criticizes Sanders plan, saying it is unrealistic and will impose a new tax on the middle class. She fails to mention that the so-called tax used to help fund his program is far less per family than current insurance premiums for all but the richest. And of course she fails to mention that she has received around $13 million in campaign contributions from the health-care industrial complex.
I worry about education and college debt. Sanders proposes free tuition to public colleges through to the Bachelor’s degree funded by a small tax on speculative Wall Street transactions. Clinton, worried that Trump will send his kids to the public college, wants to limit free tuition to community college. Remember here that Eisenhower’s free college for the thousands of returning Veterans played a major role in developing the economic prosperity of that period. Sanders understands the value of universal higher education to the whole society.
I worry about sexism, and racism, and all forms of prejudice that are on the rise along with and related to income inequality, poverty, and criminal justice. Caleb Rosado, a professor at Eastern University in Pennsylvania who studies prejudice says the issue of privilege and power is the root of prejudice. Sanders understands that relationship, so when he is asked about racism he brings up money in politics and income inequality and criminal justice. He is not changing the subject. He understands how the love of money feeds the prevalence of discrimination that results in poverty and prisons overflowing with victims of discrimination. Increasing privatization of our prison system is morphing into a prison industrial complex which intensifies prejudice and discrimination. Clinton is in a position of loyalty to privilege and power, and her criticism of Sanders as a one-issue candidate suggests she does not understand the relationship between power and discrimination.
Along with economics, prejudice is a major factor in every international conflict, and I worry about our foreign policy. Clinton’s record shows that she has supported trade agreements that contribute in a major way to economic inequality and the disappearance of the middle class here at home. Her Senate vote for the war in Iraq and her role in taking out Bin Laden and Kadahfy have not made us safer. Consequences of those actions have contributed to the destabilization of the whole Middle East. 21st Century wars have cost trillions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives. They have driven millions of refugees from their homes, intensified immigration problems, and made billions of dollars in profit for the military industrial complex Eisenhower warned about. Sanders’ record shows that he understood and warned about consequences of violence for regime change long before he became a presidential candidate. He has much better understanding and judgement about likely consequences than Clinton has shown in her experience.
With every issue that I worry about, Bernie Sanders is the candidate I trust with plans to resolve the problems. Visit berniesanders.com on the web for all the details. Read Hillary’s web site too. They share many of the same values, but Clinton’s ties to big money compromise her promises.