Bernard Sanders (born September 8, 1941) is an American politician who has served as the junior United States Senator from Vermont since 2007. The U.S. Representative for the state's at-large congressional district from 1991 to 2007, he is the longest-serving independent in U.S. congressional history and a member of the Democratic caucus. Sanders ran unsuccessfully for the 2016 and 2020 Democratic nomination for president.
- The revolution comes when two strangers smile at each other, when a father refuses to send his child to school because schools destroy children, when a commune is started and people begin to trust each other, when a young man refuses to go to war and when a girl pushes aside all that her mother has 'taught' her and accepts her boyfriends (sic) love.
- "The Revolution Is Life Versus Death", in Vermont Freeman (1969), as quoted in "The origins of Sanders' ideology, in his own words" by Brianna Keilar, CNN (29 February 2016)
- There are no "human" oppressors. Oppressors have lost their humanity. On one hand "slavishness," on the other hand "pigness." Six of one, half dozen of the other. Who wins?
Many women seem to be walking a tightrope now. Their qualities of love, openness, and gentleness were too deeply enmeshed with qualities of dependency, subservience, and masochism. How do you love — without being subservient? How do you maintain a relationship without giving up your identity and without getting strung out? How do you reach out and give your heart to your lover, but maintain the soul which is you?
- "Man – and Woman" in Vermont Freeman (Mid-February 1972)
- I came away from these Wallace [supporter] interviews with two basic feelings. First, that democracy in America (in any sense of the word) just might not make it. My mind flashed to scenes of Germany in the late 1920's. Confusion, rebellion, frustration, economic instability, a wounded national pride, ineffectual political leadership — and the desire for a strong man who would do something, who would bring order out of the chaos. Could it happen here? With the inability of the national leadership to solve the real problems facing this country, could the the blacks, long-hairs, "welfare chiselers", and political dissidents become the Jews and Communists of the Nazi experience? Could it happen here? I see no reason why it couldn't.
- Sanders, Bernie (June 1972). "Wallace in St. Albans: some interviews/some thoughts". Movement 1 (2)., quoted in McDermott, Nathan (May 8, 2019). The Making of Bernie Sanders: How a hitchhiking campaigner pushed a vision that remains remarkably unchanged. CNN.
- What has to be understood is the economic problems of Nicaragua are not unique in Central America or in the third world. In fact, as poor as Nicaragua is, one of the nice things that I saw is that as a result of government policy, direct government policy in terms of the distribution of food, people are not hungry, by and large. I think it’s fair to say. You know, it's funny, sometimes American journalists talk about how bad a country is, that people are lining up for food. That is a good thing! In other countries people don't line up for food: the rich get the food and the poor starve to death.
- At least as I see it, and I’m not an expert on this, but this is how I see it. Number one, you want to guarantee that all people have access to healthcare as you do in Canada, but I think what we understand is that unless we change the funding system and the control mechanisms in this country to do that. For example, if we expanded Medicaid, if everybody had Medicaid [inaudible] we would be spending such an astronomical sum of money that we would bankrupt the nation. So maybe you want to talk a bit about that – why in Canada, under their national health system, you can have access for all people and yet per capita, it is less expensive than the United States.
- The real issue is not whether you're black or white, whether you're a woman or a man. In my view, a woman could be elected president of the United States. The real issue is whose side are you on? Are you on the side of workers and poor people, or are you on the side of big money and the corporations?
- 1988, quoted in Zack Budryk (14 January 2020), "Video emerges of Sanders saying in 1988 a woman could be elected president", The Hill
- My ears may have been playing a trick on me, but I thought I heard the gentleman a moment ago say something quote unquote about homos in the military. Was I right in hearing that expression? Was the gentleman referring to the thousands and thousands of gay people who have put their lives on the line in countless wars defending this country? Was that the groups of people that the gentleman was referring to? You have insulted thousands of men and women who have put their lives on the line. I think they are owed an apology.
- Speaking to Representative Duke Cunningham on the floor of the House of Representatives, 11 May 1995, from Watch Bernie Sanders Demolish A Republican Over ‘Homos In The Military’ by Zach Carter, The Huffington Post (22 February 2016)
- I have always been a proponent of a national health care system. It just seemed eminently fair and right. How can we call this a civilized society when the children or parents of the rich get the medical attention they need in order to stay alive, while members of working-class families, who lack health insurance, have to die or needlessly suffer--or go hopelessly into debt to get the care they need? This is an outrageous injustice and it cannot be rationally defended.
- Outsider in the House (1997), p.175
- I say this as an opponent of nuclear power, if I had my way, we would close down every nuclear power plant in this country as soon as we could, safely, but the problem is we have low-level waste. And to turn our backs on that problem and ignore that problem and to say that it will go away is wrong. The environmental debate today should be what is the safest way of disposing of low-level radioactive waste, and I would argue strongly that the passage of this legislation and depositing it in a safer location in Texas is the direction that we should go.
- Speaking at the House of Representatives on the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact, in 7 October 1997. 
- The strong environmental position should not be and cannot be to do nothing, and to put our heads in the sand and pretend that the problem does not exist. It would be nice if Texas had no low-level radioactive waste, or Vermont or Maine or any other State. That would be great. That is not the reality. The environmental challenge now is, given the reality that low-level radioactive waste exists, what is the safest way of disposing of that waste. Leaving the radioactive waste at the site where it was produced, despite the fact that that site may be extremely unsafe in terms of long-term isolation of the waste and was never intended to be a long- term depository of low-level waste, is horrendous environmental policy. What sense is it to say that you have to keep the waste where it is now, even though that might be very environmentally damaging? That does not make any sense at all. No reputable scientist or environmentalist believes that the geology of Vermont or Maine would be a good place for this waste. In the humid climate of Vermont and Maine, it is more likely that groundwater will come in contact with that waste and carry off radioactive elements to the accessible environment. There is widespread scientific evidence to suggest, on the other hand, that locations in Texas, some of which receive less than 12 inches of rainfall a year, a region where the groundwater table is more than 700 feet below the surface, is a far better location for this waste. This is not a political assertion, it is a geological and environmental reality. ... From an environmental point of view, I urge strong support for this legislation.
- Speaking at the House of Representatives on the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact, in 7 October 1997. 
Outsider in the House (1998)
- Why do we hear more about O. J. Simpson or the Superbowl or a plane crash than we do about the fact that in a period of declining wages for working people the average CEO of a major American corporation makes more than $3 million a year? Could there be any relation between what we see on the ABC Evening News and the fact that Michael Eisner runs Disney and that Disney in turn owns ABC?
- in spite of the magnitude of these problems, each of them can be addressed and solved. This, and not a vindictive scapegoating campaign like Newt Gingrich's Contract with America, should form the basis of our nation's legislative agenda.
- while extreme right wingers are regular guests on various talk shows, almost no progressive voices are heard on prime-time TV. The most important "story" of the last twenty years has been the precipitous decline in the standard of living of America's working families. Television, which provides instantaneous coverage of earthquakes thousands of miles away, seems to have "missed" this issue.
- Ben Bagdikian has written a very important book called The Media Monopoly
- I am old enough to remember the presidency of Lyndon Johnson, when the government fought a "war on poverty." In recent years that war has been transformed by representatives of both major parties into a war on the poor. More important yet, but less reported, is that in the years since Ronald Reagan was elected president, corporate America has waged war against this nation's workers.
- Let me be blunt. The government must accept responsibility for helping to create an economy that provides work for and ensures the economic well-being of all its citizens.
- President Clinton, like Bush and Reagan before him, is supporting a trade policy that protects the interests and profits of multinational corporations, while compromising the interests of American workers.
- If we cut military spending and corporate welfare, we would have more than enough money to meet America's needs.
- After Clinton's failure to reform our health care system, we ended up with a cumbersome, profit-driven, consumer-unfriendly, inefficient health care delivery system dominated by insurance companies. And I mean dominated.
- we have to rid the country of any vestige of racism, sexism, and homophobia. I am convinced that providing decent jobs for all and a better education for the young will be the linchpins of that effort. Too often liberals believe that being "against" prejudice is all that is required to bring about a more just and equitable society. Not true. Only when every man and woman has a place in American society and this means, I believe, a decent-paying job will we begin to eradicate the hatreds that are based on jealousy and insecurity. And only when every American is economically secure enough to stand up to insults of any sort will all Americans be free of the power of prejudice to define them.
- I am convinced that if we can muster the courage to work together, we can do what needs to be done. Building a progressive future requires building a progressive movement.
- As we move toward a progressive and democratic future, I am sustained by the hope that one day, when millions of Americans are actively involved in the political process and are standing up for their rights and those of their children, a majority of the members of Congress will then represent the interests of ordinary people, and not the rich. When that day comes, we will no longer be outsiders in the House. That House, and this country, will then belong to all of us. And that's the way it should be.
- Mr. Speaker, in the brief time I have let me give you five reasons why I'm opposed to giving the President a blank check to launch a unilateral invasion and occupation of Iraq and why I will vote against this resolution.
One: I have not heard any estimates of how many young American men and women might die in such a war, or how many tens of thousands of women and children in Iraq might also be killed. As a caring nation, we should do everything we can to prevent the horrible suffering that a war will cause. War must be the last recourse in international relations, not the first.
Second, I am deeply concerned about the precedent that a unilateral invasion of Iraq could establish in terms of international law and the role of the United Nations. If President Bush believes that the US can go to war at any time against any nation, what moral or legal obligation can our government raise if another country chose to do the same thing.
Third, the United States in now involved in a very difficult war against international terrorism, as we learned tragically on September eleventh. We are opposed by Osama Bin Ladin and religious fanatics who are prepared to engage in a kind of warfare that we have never experienced before. I agree with Brent Scowcroft, Republican former national security adviser for President George Bush senior, who stated and I quote, "An attack on Iraq at this time would seriously jeopardize if not destroy the global counter-terrorist campaign we have undertaken."
Fourth, at a time when this country has a six-trillion dollar national debt and a growing deficit, we should be clear that a war and a long-term American occupation of Iraq could be extremely expensive.
Fifth, I am concerned about the problems with so-called unintended consequences. Who will govern Iraq when Saddam Hussein is removed? And what role will the US play in an ensuing civil war that could develop in that country? Will moderate governments in the regions who have large Islamic fundamentalist populations be overthrown and replaced by extremists? Will the bloody conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority be exacerbated? And these are just a few of the questions that remain unanswered.
- Speech on Iraq War Resolution in US House of Representatives (9 October 2002)
- If you are serious about real healthcare reform, the only way to go is single-payer.
- Of course the Republicans have long wanted to privatize Social Security and destroy it. But Social Security has been the most important and valuable social program in the history of the United States.
- PBS NewsHour, 16 February 2011
- These days, the American dream is more apt to be realized in South America, in places such as Ecuador, Venezuela and Argentina, where incomes are actually more equal today than they are in the land of Horatio Alger. Who's the banana republic now?
- Close The Gaps: Disparities That Threaten America, Valley News, 5 August 2011
- It looks like the South Bronx is prepared to tell the billionaire class they cannot have it all. It looks like the South Bronx wants to create an economy that works for all of us, not just the 1%. What this campaign is about is creating a political revolution. All over this country I am seeing millions of people standing up, fighting back, saying, “enough is enough.”
- Want to get on the front page of the paper? I have to make some vicious attack. I won't do that. I’m running an issue-oriented campaign.
- Democratic debate (17 January 2016)
- Enough is enough! [...] How many homes can you own?
- Regarding Opposing Extending Bush-era tax rates, Memoli, Michael (10 December 2010). "Sen. Bernie Sanders ends filibuster". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 16 October 2013.
- The bottom line is when Senator Inhofe says global warming is a hoax, he is just dead wrong, according to the vast majority of climate scientists.
- Regarding Global warming, Gerken, James (31 July 2012). "Senator Bernie Sanders: Climate Change Is Real, Senator Inhofe Is 'Dead Wrong'". The Huffington Post. Retrieved on 16 October 2013.
- The real issue here, if you look at the Koch Brothers' agenda, is: look at what many of the extreme right-wing people believe. Obamacare is just the tip of the iceberg. These people want to abolish the concept of the minimum wage, they want to privatize the Veteran's Administration, they want to privatize Social Security, end Medicare as we know it, massive cuts in Medicaid, wipe out the EPA, you don’t have an Environmental Protection Agency anymore, Department of Energy gone, Department of Education gone. That is the agenda. And many people don’t understand that the Koch Brothers have poured hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars into the tea party and two other kinds of ancillary organizations to push this agenda.
- Regarding the United States federal government shutdown of 2013, Sanders, Bernie (7 October 2013). MSNBC News Interview (7 October 2013) (06:41). YouTube. Retrieved on 12 October 2013.
- Staff (8 October 2013). "Bernie Sanders Says Koch Brothers Shut Down Government Via Citizens United". The Inquisitr. Retrieved on 12 October 2013.
- Americans' right to free speech should not be proportionate to their bank accounts.
- Tom Udall and Bernie Sanders (7 September 2014), "The Threat to American Democracy", Politico
- I find it remarkable that Saudi Arabia, which borders Iraq and is controlled by a multi-billion dollar family, is demanding that U.S. combat troops have ‘boots on the ground’ against ISIS. Where are the Saudi troops? With the third largest military budget in the world and an army far larger than ISIS, the Saudi government must accept its full responsibility for stability in their own region of the world. Ultimately, this is a profound struggle for the soul of Islam, and the anti-ISIS Muslim nations must lead that fight. While the United States and other western nations should be supportive, the Muslim nations must lead.
- Piccoli, Sean (6 March 2015). "Sen. Bernie Sanders Rips Saudis for Demanding US Troops Fight ISIS". NewsMax. Retrieved on 17 March 2015.
- Diamond, Jeremy (6 March 2015). "Sen. Bernie Sanders: 'I'll be damned' if Americans lead ISIS fight". CNN News. Retrieved on 17 March 2015.
- Sanders, Bernie (March 6, 2015). "Sanders Calls Saudi Demand for U.S. Ground Troops ‘Offensive’". US Senate. Retrieved on March 17, 2015.
- What we have seen is that while the average person is working longer hours for lower wages, we have seen a huge increase in income and wealth inequality, which is now reaching obscene levels. This is a rigged economy, which works for the rich and the powerful, and is not working for ordinary Americans … You know, this country just does not belong to a handful of billionaires.
- Staff (29 April 2015). "Bernie Sanders confirms presidential run and damns America's inequities". the Guardian. Retrieved on 2 May 2015.
- No single financial institution should have holdings so extensive that its failure could send the world economy into another financial crisis ... If an institution is too big to fail, it is too big to exist.
- Huntley, Steve (1 May 2015). "Steve Huntley: Sanders the socialist sure gets it right on big banks". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved on 2 May 2015.
- We have a crisis in higher education today. Too many of our young people cannot afford a college education and those who are leaving college are faced with crushing debt. It is a national disgrace that hundreds of thousands of young Americans today do not go to college, not because they are unqualified, but because they cannot afford it. This is absolutely counterproductive to our efforts to create a strong competitive economy and a vibrant middle class. This disgrace has got to end. In a global economy, when our young people are competing with workers from around the world, we have got to have the best educated workforce possible. And, that means that we have got to make college affordable. We have got to make sure that every qualified American in this country who wants to go to college can go to college -- regardless of income. Further, it is unacceptable that 40 million Americans are drowning in more than $1.2 trillion in student loan debt. It is unacceptable that millions of college graduates cannot afford to buy their first home or their first new car because of the high interest rates they are paying on student debt. It is unacceptable that, in many instances, interest rates on student loans are two to three times higher than on auto loans.
- Let's be clear: This campaign is not about Bernie Sanders, it is not about Hillary Clinton, it is not about Jeb Bush or anyone else. This campaign is about the needs of the American people. As someone who has never run a negative political ad in his life, my campaign will be driven by issues and serious debate; not political gossip, not reckless personal attacks or character assassination. This is what I believe the American people want and deserve.
- Rally, Burlington, Vermont, quoted in Patrick Healy (26 May 2015), "Bernie Sanders Challenges Hillary Clinton at His First Rally", New York Times
- "We have a president right now who doesn't consider himself a socialist but people call him a socialist as an insult. Are you concerned at all about framing yourself as this?" ...
- "Not if we have the opportunity to describe what democratic socialism means. ... You have countries like Denmark, Sweden, Norway ... which have had social democratic governments. ... In those countries, healthcare is a right for all people. ... Tuition is free. ... In those countries, governments are working for the middle class, rather than the billionaire class."
- Late Night with Seth Meyers (2 June 2015)
- Are we happy that 99% of all new income is going to the top 1%? Are we happy that one family in this country owns more than the bottom 130 million people?
- Late Night with Seth Meyers, (2 June 2015)
- Warren Buffett, one of the richest guys in the world, openly admits that his effective tax rate is lower than his secretary's. It's time to tell the billionaire class that if they want to enjoy the benefits of America, they have to accept their responsibilities, and they have to start paying their fair share of taxes.
- Late Night with Seth Meyers, (2 June 2015)
- In the last thirty years, there has been a massive redistribution of wealth. Unfortunately, it's gone in the wrong direction. ... All that money that has gone from the middle class to the top 1%, I think it should start coming back to the people who need it the most.
- Late Night with Seth Meyers, (2 June 2015)
- There are millions and millions of people who are tired of establishment politics, who are tired of corporate greed, who want a candidate that will help lead a mass movement in this country. ... What people are saying is, "Enough is enough. The billionaire class cannot have it all."
- Interview with Katie Couric, (2 June 2015) at 8:00
- In my view, and we've introduced legislation to deal with this, if a bank is too big to fail, it is too big to exist.
- 2016 Presidential Campaign Rally in Madison, Wisconsin, (1 July 2015) at 43:00
- What right-wing people in this country would love is an open-border policy. Bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour, that would be great for them. I don't believe in that. I think we have to raise wages in this country, I think we have to do everything we can to create millions of jobs.
You know what youth unemployment is in the United States of America today? If you're a white high school graduate, it's 33 percent, Hispanic 36 percent, African American 51 percent. You think we should open the borders and bring in a lot of low-wage workers, or do you think maybe we should try to get jobs for those kids?
I think from a moral responsibility we've got to work with the rest of the industrialized world to address the problems of international poverty, but you don't do that by making people in this country even poorer.
- Open borders? [...] That's a right-wing proposal, which says essentially there is no United States. [...] It would make everybody in America poorer. You're doing away with the concept of a nation state, and I don't think there's any country in the world that believes in that. If you believe in a country called the United States or any other country, you have an obligation to do everything we can to help poor people. What right-wing people in this country would love is an open-border policy. Bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour, that would be great for them. I don't believe in that. I think we have to raise wages in this country, I think we have to do everything we can to create millions of jobs.
- Interview with Ezra Klein (29 July 2015)
- My friends, the Republican Party did not win the midterm election in November: We lost that election. We lost because voter turnout was abysmally, embarrassingly low, and millions of working people, young people and people of color gave up on politics as usual and they stayed home. That’s a fact. In my view, Democrats will not retain the White House, will not regain the Senate or the U.S. House, will not be successful in dozens of governor races across the country, unless we generate excitement and momentum and produce a huge voter turnout. With all due respect – and I do not mean to insult anyone here – that turnout, that enthusiasm, will not happen with politics as usual. The people of our country understand that given the collapse of the American middle class, and given the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality we are experiencing, we do not need more establishment politics or establishment economics.
- Address to the Democratic National Committee’s Summer Meeting, Bernie Sanders Warns Democrats They May Not Win in 2016 Without Him, The New York Times (28 August 2015)
- I think obviously vaccinations work. Vaccination has worked for many, many years. I am sensitive to the fact that there are some families who disagree but the difficulty is if I have a kid who is suffering from an illness who is subjected to a kid who walks into a room without vaccines that could kill that child and that's wrong.
- FeelTheBern.org, "Issues" (5 September 2015)
- A nation that in many ways was created—I'm sorry to have to say this, from way back—on racist principles, that's a fact, we have come a long way as a nation.
- Well, no I do not have dual citizenship with Israel. I'm an American. I don't know where that question came from. I am an American citizen, and I have visited Israel on a couple of occasions. No, I'm an American citizen, period
- "NPR's Diane Rehm asks Bernie Sanders about Israeli citizenship rumors" (October 6, 2015)
- Absolutely, in fact, climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism.
- What happens in Syria, for example, there's some thought about this. When you have drought, when people can't grow their crops, they're going to migrate into cities and when people migrate into cities and when they don't have jobs, there's going to be a lot more instability, a lot more unemployment and people will be subject to the types of propaganda that Al Qaeda and ISIS are using right now and so where you have discontent you have instability, that's where problems arise and certainly without a doubt, a climate change will lead to that.
- "Bernie Sanders doubles down on link between climate change and terrorism", CBS News (15 November 2015), when asked how drought connect with ISIS attacks in Paris.
- Democratic socialism means that in a democratic, civilized society the wealthiest people and the largest corporations must pay their fair share of taxes.
- "Bernie Sanders Speech On Democratic Socialism", (19 November 2015).
- Let me define for you, simply and straightforwardly, what Democratic socialism means to me. It builds on what Franklin Delano Roosevelt said when he fought for guaranteed economic rights for all Americans. And it builds on what Martin Luther King, Jr said in 1968 when he stated that; “This country has socialism for the rich, and rugged individualism for the poor.” It builds on the success of many other countries around the world that have done a far better job than we have in protecting the needs of their working families, the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor.
Democratic socialism means that we must create an economy that works for all, not just the very wealthy. Democratic socialism means that we must reform a political system in America today which is not only grossly unfair but, in many respects, corrupt.... Wall Street CEOs who help destroy the economy get raises in their salaries. This is what Martin Luther King, Jr. meant by socialism for the rich and rugged individualism for everyone else.
We should not be providing welfare for corporations, huge tax breaks for the very rich, or trade policies which boost corporate profits as workers lose their jobs. It means that we create a government that works for works for all of us, not just powerful special interests. It means that economic rights must be an essential part of what America stands for.
- "Democratic Socialism in the United States" (19 November 2015)
- I don't believe government should take over the grocery store down the street or own the means of production, but I do believe that the middle class and the working families who produce the wealth of America deserve a decent standard of living and that their incomes should go up, not down. I do believe in private companies that thrive and invest and grow in America, companies that create jobs here, rather than companies that are shutting down in America and increasing their profits by exploiting low-wage labor abroad.
- "Bernie Sanders Speech On Democratic Socialism", (19 November 2015).
Preface to Outsider in the White House (2015)
- When people say I am too serious, I take it as a compliment. I have always understood politics as a serious endeavor, involving the fates of nations, ideals and human beings who cannot afford to be pawns in a game. I suppose this understanding makes me an outsider in contemporary American politics. But if I am more serious about politics than those candidates who jet from one high-donor fundraiser to the next, or from a Koch Brothers-sponsored summit to the Sheldon Adelson "primary," I do not think I am more serious than the American people. The American people want political campaigns to be about candidates' stands on the issues, not about fundraising, polls, or the negative ads that overwhelm honest debate. Elections should be influenced by grassroots movements and unexpected coalitions, not by the cult of personality or a billionaire's checkbook. From the time I began to get involved in politics, as a student organizing for civil rights on the University of Chicago campus, as a peace activist in the Vietnam War era, as a supporter of labor unions and peoples' struggles, what offended me most about electoral politics was the pettiness. It seemed that the media and political parties were encouraging voters to make decisions of enormous consequence on the basis of whether a candidate had a bright smile or delivered a zinger belittling another candidate-not on the basis of ideas or philosophy, let alone idealism. I never wanted to be a part of such a soulless politics. And across my years of campaigning for causes and for elective office, I think I have done a pretty good job of avoiding it.
- A politics of struggle is rooted in values and vision, and above all trust.
- I got involved in electoral politics because I believed that movement activism on behalf of civil rights and women's rights and labor rights and environmental protection and peace needed to be reflected on our ballots and in the corridors of power.
- Change comes, even in the face of overwhelming odds. And the recognition of the changes we have already made, of what we have won, inspires us to fight even harder.
- The majority of Americans today are outsiders, especially in the halls of power where decisions about our economy are being made. And we will remain outsiders for as long as the political balance is tipped against the great mass of Americans, for as long as the status quo is characterized by inequality and injustice. It will take all the energy of the new movements of
this new time to make the change that is needed.
- Now is the time for us to make America the country that the vast majority of our people want it to be. It will take a political revolution to make the change.
Liberty University Speech (14 September 2015)
Transcript by Chris Cillizza in The Washington Post (14 September 2015)
- "So in everything, do to others what you would have them to do to you, for this sums up the war and the prophets." That is the golden rule. Do unto others, what you would have them do to you. That is the golden rule, and it is not very complicated.
- Now here is my point. Some of you may agree with me, and some of you may not, but in my view, it would be hard for anyone in this room today to make the case that the United States of America, our great country, a country which all of us love, it would be hard to make the case that we are a just society, or anything resembling a just society today.
- There is no justice, and I want you to hear this clearly, when the top one-tenth of 1 percent -- not 1 percent, the top one-tenth of 1 percent -- today in America owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. And in your hearts, you will have to determine the morality of that, and the justice of that.
- Do you think it's moral when 20 percent of the children in this country, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, are living in poverty? Do you think it is acceptable that 40 percent of African American children are living in poverty?
- In my view, there is no justice when low income and working class mothers are forced to separate from their babies one or two weeks after birth and go back to work because they need the money that their jobs provide. Now I know everybody here -- we all are, maybe in different ways, but all of us believe in family values.
- When you look around the world, you see every other major country providing health care to all people as a right, except the United States. You see every other major country saying to moms that, when you have a baby, we’re not gonna separate you from your newborn baby, because we are going to have — we are gonna have medical and family paid leave, like every other country on Earth. Those are some of the principles that I believe in, and I think we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people.
- Quoted in Claire Zillman (17 February 2016), "Bernie Sanders Was Right: Denmark Is the Best Nation for Working People", Fortune
- America's first black president cannot and will not be succeeded by a hatemonger who refuses to condemn the KKK.
- Twitter, 2016-02-28, quoted in Melissa Chan (28 February 2016), "Trump Blasted by Rivals and Civil Rights Groups for Refusing to Condemn the KKK", Time
- When you're white you don't know what it’s like to be living in a ghetto, you don’t know what it's like to be poor...You don't know what it’s like to be hassled when you walk down the street, or dragged out of a car. And I believe that as a nation in the year 2016, we must be firm in making it clear, we will end institutional racism and reform a broken criminal justice system
- Amanda Terkel (6 March 2016), "Sanders: If You're White You Don't Know What It's Like To Be Poor", Huffington Post
- No, I'm very proud of being Jewish. And being Jewish is so much of what I am. Look, my father's family was wiped out by Hitler in the Holocaust. I know about what crazy and radical and extremist politics mean. I learned that lesson as a tiny, tiny child when my mother would take me shopping, and we would see people working in stores who had numbers on their arms because they were in Hitler's concentration camps. I'm very proud of being Jewish. And that's an essential part of who I am as a human being.
- Zack Beauchamp (6 March 2016), "Watch: Bernie Sanders’s incredibly moving answer on his Judaism", Vox
- Anybody help me out here, because I don't remember the figures, but my recollection is over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza. Does that sound right? I don't have it in my number... but I think it's over 10,000. My understanding is that a whole lot of apartment houses were leveled. Hospitals, I think, were bombed. So yeah, I do believe and I don't think I'm alone in believing that Israel's force was more indiscriminate than it should have been.
- Quoted in Eric Cortellessa (5 April 2016), "Massively inflating toll, Sanders suggests Israel killed ‘over 10,000 innocents’ in Gaza", The Times of Israel
- "Sanders' estimate far exceeds even Palestinian sources, which estimate that 1,462 Palestinians were killed out of the 2,251 Gaza War fatalities in 2014. Israeli figures are lower." Ariel Cohen, "Sanders: Israel 'indiscriminately' killed '10,000' Palestinians" Washington Examiner (5 April 2016)
- We are living in a world where greed has become for the wealthiest people their own religion, and they make no apologies for it.
- Bernie Sanders as interviewed by Thomas Rosica April 15, 2016
- I learnt a lot about democracy in the schoolyards of Brooklyn, New York.
- Bernie from Brooklyn: A Conversation with Mark Ruffalo (April 16, 2016)
- The people in every state in this country should have the right to determine who they want as president and what the agenda of the Democratic Party should be. That’s why we are in this race until the last vote is cast. That is why this campaign is going to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia with as many delegates as possible to fight for a progressive party platform that calls for a $15 an hour minimum wage, an end to our disastrous trade policies, a Medicare-for-all health care system, breaking up Wall Street financial institutions, ending fracking in our country, making public colleges and universities tuition free and passing a carbon tax so we can effectively address the planetary crisis of climate change.
- León Krauze: I am sure that you know about this topic: various leftist governments, especially the populists, are in serious trouble in Latin America. The socialist model in Venezuela has the country near collapse. Argentina, also Brazil, how do you explain that failure?
Bernie Sanders: You are asking me questions...
Krauze: I am sure you're interested in that.
Sanders: I am very interested, but right now I'm running for President of the United States.
Krauze: So you don't have an opinion about the crisis in Venezuela?
Sanders: Of course I have an opinion, but as I said, I'm focused on my campaign.
- Interview with Univision's León Krauze, as quoted in "Bernie Hits Bump on Univision: Speechless on Socialism’s Failures" by Edgard Portela, NewsBusters (26 May 2016)
- I've got to tell you, 25 years ago, I believe that in this country, we should not be selling automatic weapons which are designed to kill people. We have got to do everything that we can on top of that to make sure that guns do not fall into the hands of people who should not have them, criminals, people who are mentally ill. So that struggles continues.
- Meet the Press, NBC, 12 June 2016
- The political revolution is not about one election or one candidate. It is about transforming America and continuing the fight for economic, social, racial and environmental justice. We have to continue to work together to advance the progressive future we all support.
- In a email message to his delegates — Sanders's full message: Movement damaged by 'booing, walking out', The Washington Post (25 July 2016)
- People can argue about the pluses and minuses of marijuana, but everyone knows it’s not a killer drug like heroin.
- Twitter (11 August 2016), quoted in David Weigel (11 August 2016), "Sanders joins Democrats criticizing DEA for marijuana decision", Washington Post
- I am disappointed by the president's decision to continue pushing forward on the disastrous Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that will cost American jobs, harm the environment, increase the cost of prescription drugs and threaten our ability to protect public health. This treaty is opposed by every trade union in the country and virtually the entire grassroots base of the Democratic Party. ... Secretary Clinton made her strongest statement to date against this deal. In my view, it is now time for the leadership of the Democratic Party in the Senate and the House to join Secretary Clinton and go on the record in opposition to holding a vote on this job-killing trade deal during the lame-duck session of Congress and beyond. We need to defeat this treaty and fundamentally rewrite our trade policies to create good-paying jobs in this country and throughout the world and end the race to the bottom. I will continue to do everything I can to make sure that the TPP does not get implemented.
- Sanders Statement on Push to Pass Pacific Trade Pact (12 August 2016)
- It is an international embarrassment that we put more people behind bars than any other country on earth. Due in large part to private prisons, incarceration has been a source of major profits to private corporations. Study after study after study has shown private prisons are not cheaper, they are not safer, and they do not provide better outcomes for either the prisoners or the state. We have got to end the private prison racket in America as quickly as possible. Our focus should be on keeping people out of jail and making sure they stay out when they are released. This means funding jobs and education not more jails and incarceration.
- Sanders Applauds Decision to End Federal Use of Private Prisons (18 August 2016)
- The business model of Wall Street is fraud. In my view, there is no better example than the recently-exposed illegal behavior at Wells Fargo.
- We have got to end the two-tier justice system — one for the poor and working class and one for Wall Street and the wealthy — that has existed for far too long in this country.
- Wall Street won’t change until we make it clear that no bank is too big to fail and no CEO is too big to jail.
- Wells Fargo’s Business Model is Fraud, Medium (22 September 2016)
- What media loves is to focus on the candidates. What the American people, I believe, want is for us to focus on them, not the candidates, not anymore.
- as interviewed by Amy Goodman, "Bernie Sanders Warns That Corporate Media Threatens Democracy," Alternet, (28 December 2016)
Democratic Presidential Debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (11 February 2016)
- Transcript by The Washington Post (11 February 2016)
- Nine months ago, our campaign began. And when it began, we had no political organization, no money, and not much name recognition outside of the state of Vermont. A lot has happened in nine months.
And what has happened is, I think, the American people have responded to a series of basic truths, and that is that we have today a campaign finance system which is corrupt, which is undermining American democracy, which allows Wall Street and billionaires to pour huge sums of money into the political process to elect the candidates of their choice.
And aligned with a corrupt campaign finance system is a rigged economy. And that's an economy where ordinary Americans are working longer hours for low wagers. They are worried to death about the future of their kids. And yet they are seeing almost all new income and all new wealth going to the top 1 percent.
And then in addition to that, the American people are looking around and they see a broken criminal justice system. They see more people in jail in the United States of America than any other country on earth, 2.2 million. We're spending $80 billion a year locking up fellow Americans.
- Well, Secretary Clinton, you're not in the White House yet. And let us be clear that every proposal that I have introduced has been paid for. For example, all right, who in America denies that we have an infrastructure that is crumbling? Roads, bridges, water systems, wastewater plants, who denies that?
Who denies that real unemployment today, including those who have given up looking for work and are working part-time is close to 10 percent? Who denies that African-American youth unemployment, real, is over 50 percent.
- Yes, I do believe that now after the American people bailed Wall Street out, yes, they should pay a Wall Street speculation tax so that we can make public colleges and universities tuition-free.
- But, here is a pledge I've made throughout this campaign, and it's really not a very radical pledge. When we have more people in jail, disproportionately African American and Latino, than China does, a communist authoritarian society four times our size. Here's my promise, at the end of my first term as president we will not have more people in jail than any other country.
- 29 million people have no health insurance today in America. We pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. One out of five Americans can't even afford the prescriptions their doctors are writing. Millions of people have high deductibles and co-payments. I don't know what economists Secretary Clinton is talking to, but what I have said, is that the family right in the middle of the economy would pay $500 dollars more in taxes, and get a reduction in their healthcare costs of $5,000 dollars. In my view healthcare is a right of all people, not a privilege, and I will fight for that.
- There is one major country that does not guarantee health care to all people. There is one major country--the United States--which ends up spending almost three times per capita what they do in the U.K. guaranteeing health care to all people, 50 percent more than they do in France guaranteeing health care to all people, far more than our Canadian neighbors, who guarantee health care to all people.
Democratic Presidential Debate in Miami (9 March 2016)
- Transcript by The New York Times (9 March 2016)
- Billionaires and Wall Street should not be buying elections.
- Today in America, the middle class is disappearing.
- I think that the American people are never going to elect a president who insults Mexicans, who insults Muslims, who insults women, who insults African-Americans. And let us not forget that several years ago, Trump was in the middle of the so- called birther movement, trying to delegitimize the president of the United States of America. You know, I find it very interesting, Karen, my dad was born in Poland. I know a little bit about the immigrant experience. Nobody has ever asked me for my birth certificate. Maybe it has something to do with the color of my skin.
- Poverty is increasing. And if wages are going down, I don’t know why we need millions of people to be coming into this country as guestworkers who will work for lower wages than American workers and drive wages down even lower than they are right now. ... You have guestworker programs that have been described by the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of the important institutions in this country who studies these issues, as guestworkers programs akin to slavery, where people came in. They were cheated. They were abused. They were humiliated. And if they stood up for their rights, they would be thrown out of the country. I supported the 2013 immigration reform bill. And what I believe right now is not only that we need comprehensive immigration reform. ... In this country, immigration reform is a very hot debate. It’s divided the country. But I would hope very much, that as we have that debate, we do not, as Donald Trump and others have done, resort to racism and xenophobia and bigotry. This idea of suddenly, one day or maybe a night, rounding up 11 million people and taking them outside of this country is a vulgar, absurd idea that I would hope very few people in America support.
- I applaud President Obama for his efforts on DAPA and DACA. And I think we have got to expand those efforts. ... Now I happen to agree with President Obama on many, many issues. I think he has done a great job as president of the United States. He is wrong on this issue of deportation. I disagree with him on that.
- When we began our race for the presidency in April 2015, we were considered by the political establishment and the media to be a "fringe" campaign, something not to be taken seriously. After all, I was a senator from a small state with very little name recognition. Our campaign had no money, no political organization, and we were taking on the entire Democratic Party establishment. And, by the way, we were also running against the most powerful political operation in the country. The Clinton machine had won the presidency for Bill Clinton twice and almost won the Democratic presidential nomination for Hillary Clinton in 2008. When our campaign finally came to a close in July 2016, it turned out that the pundits had got it wrong-big-time. We had made history and run one of the most consequential campaigns in the modern history of the country-a campaign that would, in a very profound way, change America.
- During the campaign, we forced discussion on issues the establishment had swept under the rug for far too long. We brought attention to the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality in this country and the importance of breaking up the large banks that brought our economy to the brink of collapse. We exposed our horrendous trade policies, our broken criminal justice system, and our people's lack of access to affordable health care and higher education. We addressed the global crisis of climate change, the need for real comprehensive immigration reform, the importance of developing a foreign policy that values diplomacy over war, and so much more.
- During the fifteen months of the campaign there was one central point that I made over and over again, and let me repeat it here: This campaign was never just about electing a president of the United States-as enormously important as that was. This campaign was about transforming America. It was about the understanding that real change never takes place from the top on down. It always takes place from the bottom on up. It takes place when ordinary people, by the millions, are prepared to stand up and fight for justice. That's what the history of the trade union movement is about. That's what the history of the women's movement is about. That's what the history of the civil rights movement is about. That's what the history of the gay rights movement is about. That's what the history of the environmental movement is about. That's what any serious movement for justice is about. That's what the political revolution is about.
- I do write my own speeches.
- transforming America is more than just elections. It's about changing our culture.
- Humanity is at a crossroads. We can continue down the current path of greed, consumerism, oligarchy, poverty, war, racism, and environmental degradation. Or we can lead the world in moving in a very different direction.
- What, in our day, does democracy mean? To my mind, it should mean one person, one vote. It should mean an equal opportunity for all who wish to seek public office. It should mean that the wealthy don't have undue influence over the election process. It should mean that voting and participating in the political process is as easy and convenient as possible, and that barriers are not erected to prevent groups of citizens from exercising their right to participate. It should mean that poor people, old people, young people, and people of color are not discriminated against when they want to vote. It should mean that the United States has one of the highest voting turnout rates in the world, not one of the lowest. It should mean that political consciousness is high and that people are aware and well informed about the major challenges our nation is facing.
- The bottom line is that in the United States we spend an enormous amount of money for a health care system that performs poorly. It's time for a change a real change.
- Graduation should mark a joyous new beginning, not the start of an anxiety-ridden, decades-long financial bind.
- To this day, I still cannot believe that Congress's response to the worst economic crisis since the 1930s was more tax cuts for the wealthy.
- If my campaign for president stood for anything, it was about all of us standing together, as one nation, to demand a better life for all.
- To my mind, global climate change is the single greatest threat facing the planet. It poses an actual existential threat to our country and our world.
- Think about it for a second. What does it say about corporate media coverage of the major issues facing our country when my candidacy, alone, accounted for the majority of attention (limited though it may have been) that network Sunday news shows paid to poverty, one of the great crises facing the nation? The point here is not my role in raising the issue of poverty (and other important issues). The point is how national television coverage doesn't raise it and ignores the reality of important parts of American life.
- I have just been informed that the alleged shooter at the Republican baseball practice is someone who apparently volunteered on my presidential campaign. I am sickened by this despicable act, and let me be as clear as I can be: Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms. Real change can only come about through nonviolent action, and anything else runs against our most deeply held American values.
My hopes and prayers are that Representative Scalise, congressional staff and the Capitol Police Officers who were wounded make a quick and full recovery. I also want to thank the Capitol Police for their heroic actions to prevent further harm.
The Guardian interview (March 2017)
Transcript by Ed Pilkington in The Guardian (10 March 2017)
- Obviously, these are very scary times for the people of the United States and, because the Unites States is the most powerful country on Earth, for the whole word. The bad news, the very bad news is that we have a president who is a pathological liar. I say that not in a partisan way because I have many conservative friends who I disagree with on every issue who are not liars, they believe what they believe. But Trump lies all of the time and I think that is not an accident, there is a reason for that. He lies in order to undermine the foundations of American democracy. One of the concerns that I have is not just his reactionary economic program of tax breaks to billionaires and devastating cuts to programs that impact the middle class, working families, lower-income people, children, the elderly, the poor, but also his efforts to undermine American democracy in the sense of making wild attacks against the media, that virtually everything that mainstream media says is a lie. And we have reached the stage where a United States congressman named Lamar Smith from Texas – and I’m paraphrasing him but you can look up the quote – said ‘Well, if you want to know the truth the only way you can really get the truth in America is directly from the president.”
- And you have a president who has called a judge nominated by George W Bush a “so-called” judge because he issued an opinion differing with the president. He has come up with wild accusations about 3-5 million illegal people voting in the election which is an attack on every election official in the United States of America and basically suggesting to the American people that the elections do not reflect reality, that the elections are fraudulent. So what you have is a president who says that what you read and see is fraudulent, that judges are not real judges if they offer an opinion different than him, and that elections are not based on real vote counts but are also fraudulent. You have all that and more going on, which leads to only one conclusion: and that is that the only person in America who stands for the American people, the only person in America who is telling the truth, the only person in America who gets it right is the President of the United States, Donald Trump. And that is unprecedented in American history. George Bush was a very conservative president, I opposed him every single day. But George Bush did not operate outside of mainstream American political values.
- What he wants, I think, is to end up as leader of a nation which has moved in a significant degree toward authoritarianism where the president of the United States has extraordinary powers, far more so than our constitution has provided for or the values of the American people support. Obviously, the only way to defeat that trend and to defeat economic policies which will benefit the 1% at the expense of everybody else is for massive grassroots resistance, and clearly we are seeing that right now. And there are many examples of that, I don’t only mean the Women’s March or the many, many tens of thousands of people who have come out to town meetings expressing opposition to the repeal of the Affordable Care Act or some of the rallies that we have organized last weekend all over this country – about 150 rallies in 130 congressional districts, tens of thousands of people coming out demanding meetings with their members of Congress to protest against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
- Among many other statements, here is a president who is clearly the most anti-environmental president in the history of this country, this is a president who thinks climate change is a hoax despite what virtually the entire scientific community says, this is a president who has appointed a gentleman called Scott Pruitt to be administrator of the EPA whose job will be to dismember the Environmental Protection Agency, who has appointed Governor Perry of Texas to be secretary of energy. A president who just literally on the day he gave his speech issued an executive order which significantly weakens regulations to protect clean water in America. So to talk about protecting clean air and water on the same day that you issue a regulation that will increase pollution of air and water is hypocritical beyond belief. It took some effort not to laugh out loud, it really was, the hypocrisy was beyond belief.
- I have very conservative Republican colleagues who believe in democracy, who are going to fight for their reactionary economic views but who do not believe in authoritarianism. It is incumbent upon them, in this moment in history, to stand up and say that what Trump is doing is not what the United States is about, it’s not what our constitution is about. They have got to join us in resistance. Actually I hope in the coming months to be working with some conservative Republicans who I disagree with on every economic and environmental issue you can imagine, but to say to this president that you are not going to undermine American democracy. When the president of the United States says that 3-5 million people voted illegally in the last election, when one of his spokesmen says that busloads of people came from Massachusetts to go into New Hampshire in that election to vote illegally this is 100% totally delusional and lies. But what it does do, and it’s important to understand what his goal is, it sends a message to Republican reactionary governors around the country to go forward and expand their efforts to suppress the vote. If it were true that 3-5 million people voted illegally, that would be a real crisis and we would have to do something about it. But it’s a total lie, it’s not true, so as long as you maintain that delusion you are giving red meat to Republican governors to suppress the vote which is very, very frightening.
- For a start, what we know to be a fact, is that Russia played a very heavy role in attempting – successfully, I think – to impact our election. That is unacceptable. The evidence is that they have done it before and they will do it again. For all democracies around the world it is not acceptable that democratic institutions are being undermined by an authoritarian government and we ought to figure out how we deal with that – how we protect our democracies and at the same time make certain that Russia stop doing what it is doing. It is absolutely unacceptable. I think probably Obama was not as strong as he should have been in getting that message out to Putin. So that’s Number One: There’s no question but they did do that. They had many many, hundreds and hundreds of paid employees. What the exact mechanism is, who paid them may not be clear, but there were people working with the approval of the Russian government trying to undermine American democracy. Number Two: What we don’t know and what absolutely needs to be investigated is whether or not there was direct collusion between the Trump campaign and these Russians. Number Three: What we need to know is what kind of influence the Russian oligarchy has over Trump. Many people are kind of astounded. Here he is seemingly in strong disagreement with Australia, with Mexico, with long-term allies but he has nothing but positive things to say about Mr Putin who is an authoritarian leader, who is every day undermining democracy in Russia.
- One of the reasons for Brexit, for Trump’s victory in the United States, for the rise of ultra-nationalist rightwing candidates all over Europe, is the fact that the global economy has been very good for large multinational corporations, has in many ways been a positive thing for well-educated people, but there are many, many tens of millions of people in this country and all over the world who have been left behind by globalization. In this country, one of the facts that Trump pointed out in his speech that actually was a true fact is that in this country we have lost some 60,000 factories since the year 2000. Millions of decent-paying jobs in manufacturing have disappeared, some of that is due to automation, a lot has to do with disastrous trade policies which benefited the CEOs of large corporations at the expense of American workers. This is true in many parts of the world. Trump picked up support from people who felt that the elites, the economic elites, the political elites, forgot about them. And the truth is the economic and political elites did forget about them. We have seen in this country, not widely known in Europe, that inflation adjusted to wages for millions of workers today is lower than it was 40 years ago. So you have got millions of people today working two or three jobs, people who are working longer hours for lower wages, you’ve got half of older workers in America, 55 to 64, who have literally nothing in the bank as they face retirement. We have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major country on Earth. We have massive income inequality. So what’s happened in America and in many parts of the world is that globalization has done well for the folks who assemble at Davos, for the ruling economic elite of the world. In this country alone you have seen a tenfold increase in the number of billionaires.
- That is an excellent question. And the answer is, as I think many people certainly in this country understand, is that what we have seen over the last 30 or 40 years is a Democratic party that has transformed itself from a party of the working class – white workers, black workers, immigrant workers – to a party significantly controlled by a liberal elite which has moved very far away from the needs of the middle class and working families of this country. So if you were to go out on the street today in any place in this country and ask working people whether they think the Democratic party is the party of the American working class, very few would say yes. If you did that in the 1930s under Franklin Delano Roosevelt they would say yes, there was a clear distinction. Let’s not forget it was a Democratic president, Bill Clinton, who deregulated Wall Street; a Democratic president, Clinton, who pushed for Nafta; a Democratic president, Barack Obama, who pushed as hard as he could for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Now in my view Clinton did some very good things, in my view Obama did a lot of good things, but that is the reality and it is within that context that a space developed for a total phoney like Donald trump who by the way manufactures many of his products abroad in China, in Mexico and Turkey in low-wage shops to come in and pose as a defender of American workers.
- The problem has been that for some people in the liberal – and I consider myself a progressive and not a liberal for that reason alone. You can be 100% in support of the civil rights movement, for criminal justice reform, for comprehensive immigration reform, for women’s rights, for protecting the environment and being extraordinarily aggressive in transforming our energy system from fossil fuel to sustainable energy and at the same time be a champion of white workers and black workers and Latino workers and immigrant workers – there should not be a dichotomy. But what has happened is that for many people in the Democratic party they said, ‘Well, I believe in women’s rights, I believe in civil rights, I believe in immigration reform, criminal justice reform,’ and that has been the emphasis at the expense of the needs of a shrinking middle class and massive levels of income and wealth inequality. The truth is we can and should do both, it’s not an either, or it is both.
- I wasn’t expecting it but it wasn’t a shock. When I went to bed the night before I was thinking two-to-one three-to-one that Clinton would win. I thought Clinton would win. But it wasn’t like ‘Oh there’s no chance that Trump could do it’, that was never my belief. I thought he had a chance – I would say two-to-one, three-to-one for Clinton, but I was not shocked.
- The answer is, we will find out soon enough. The proof will be in the pudding, according to how Tom Perez [the newly elected chair of the DNC] and how he ends up leading the party. I supported Keith Ellison for that role because Keith is in his heart of hearts a grassroots organizer who believes in grassroots politics. He believes in the need as I do to fundamentally transform the Democratic party from a top-down party to a bottom-up party. Tom Perez said during his campaign to become chair that he agreed with Keith that there was no space between them in that view. But the proof will be in the pudding in the direction that Tom takes the Democratic party. There needs to be a fundamental acknowledgement that the model of the Democratic party has been a horrific failure, no ifs, buts and maybes. It’s not just the presidential election, it’s not just the loss of the Senate and the US House, it’s not just the loss of governors chairs all over this country, Republicans control almost two-thirds of the governors’ chairs – Democrats have lost over 900 legislative seats in states all over this country. There are states where there is virtually no Democratic party at all. When an election takes place the Democrats can’t even put up a candidate for the US Senate. That’s how pathetic it is. There has to be that understanding that what has been done in the past has been a horrific failure and there needs to be a fundamental restructuring.
- We need to understand where Gorsuch is coming from, make clear the American people understand where he is coming from, then reach a conclusion. I happen to believe that [the campaign finance opinion] Citizens United is one of the worst supreme court decisions in the history of this country, we need to know in general where Gorsuch comes from. I happen to believe that women have the right to control their own bodies, and we have to know where Gorsuch comes from on that issue. I am deeply concerned about Republican efforts to undermine democracy through voter suppression, where is he coming from on that issue? Obviously the supreme court has got to respect workers’ rights and not just rule time and time again on behalf of large corporations. Where is Mr Gorsuch on that? Now I think we know where Judge Gorsuch is on all of that. Our job over the next month or two is to get that information out to the American people.
- Republicans have said over and over again, before and after Trump’s election, they are going to repeal the Affordable Care Act, this is the worst thing that ever happened to the American people, it is gone forget about it. Well, a funny thing has happened since. Millions of people in one form or another have been actively involved in saying, ‘Excuse us, if you want to improve the Affordable Care Act let’s do it, but you are not simply going to repeal it, throw 20 million people out on the streets without any health insurance, do away with the health insurance they now have, their protections in terms of pre-existing conditions, of what people have to pay for their insurance if they have a serious illness etc etc.’ Now it turns out that the vast majority of the American people say, ‘You will not repeal the Affordable Care Act unless you have a better replacement.’ And now the Republicans are scrambling, day and night, they are embarrassed, and that tells me they are on the defensive on that area.
- This is what they should do. They should take a deep reflection about the history of this country and understand that absolutely these are very difficult and frightening times, I would not deny that for a second. But also understand that this country has had a very rocky road in terms of democracy and civil liberties and civil rights. In moments of crisis what has happened time and time again is people have stood up and fought back. So despair is absolutely not an option. I ask people if they are white to think deeply about what it meant to be an African American in the southern states in the 40s and 50s where people were treated in the most disgraceful manner imaginable, where they were humiliated, where they were attacked, where they were lynched, yet people did not give up, they fought back effectively. I would ask people to remember that a hundred years ago women in the United States did not have the right to vote, couldn’t go to university, couldn’t do the jobs they wanted to do – they stood up and fought back. A hundred years ago kids were working in factories, there were no such things as public schools, and yet working-class people fought with great courage to create movements which protected their living standards and dignity. And just more recently, and young people are familiar with this, think of the history of the gay rights movement in this country where 15-20 years ago you had state after state attacking people because of their sexual orientation and yet with great courage the gay community stood up and fought back. And now the Republicans are absolutely on the defensive on those issues. So in times of difficulty historically the American people have stood up and fought back and I believe that’s what we are going to see right now. And to the degree there is any silver lining in this whole process it will be that the American people will understand that they cannot take democracy for granted, we cannot continue with one of the lowest voter turnouts of any major country on Earth and that people have got to be deeply involved in the political process so that we will not see any more Trumps.
- Again I don’t know all the details, but what Corbyn has established pretty clearly is that there is a huge gap between what was the Labour party leadership and rank-and-file Labour party activists, and he made that as clear as clear could be. What needs to be I think is leadership has got to reflect where working people and young people are in the UK and that’s true all over progressive movements all over this country. Too often we have a political establishment which removes itself from the day-to-day struggles of ordinary lower-income people and that has got to change.
How to Fix the Democratic Party (November 2017)
- Donald Trump’s presidency represents an unprecedented crisis for our country. His campaign, and now his White House, seek to divide us using racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia and xenophobia. His economic agenda is the agenda of the billionaire class. He wants more tax breaks for the rich, while cutting education, nutrition, affordable housing and other programs desperately needed by working families. And his refusal to acknowledge the great danger of climate change is a threat to the entire planet. There is nothing, nothing more important than defeating Donald Trump and his extreme right-wing agenda. But this will not happen without an effective opposition party.
- Victories in Virginia, New Jersey, Washington, Maine and other states around the country on Tuesday are an important first step in pushing back against Trump’s radical agenda. It was especially gratifying to see thousands of working people and young people jump into the political process, volunteering, knocking on doors and winning elections to state legislatures, city councils and school boards. But the longer-term trend for the Democratic Party is worrisome. Since 2009, it has lost more than 1,000 seats in state legislatures across the country. Republicans now control the White House and 34 (soon to be 33) out of 50 governorships, as well as the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. In 26 states, Republicans control the governor's mansion along with the entirety of the state legislature. This is not just in so-called deep red states. It is true in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Florida and New Hampshire, all of which will be critical to defeating Trump in 2020, and in drawing congressional districts following that year’s Census. What is especially absurd about this situation is that the American people strongly oppose almost all elements of the Trump-Republican agenda. Fewer than one-third of Americans support the Trump and Republican tax cuts for the wealthy, and just 12 percent supported their plan to throw tens of millions of people off of their health care. The majority of Americans understand that climate change is real. Donna Brazile’s recent book makes it abundantly clear how important it is to bring fundamental reforms to the Democratic Party. The party cannot remain an institution largely dominated by the wealthy and inside-the-Beltway consultants. It must open its doors and welcome into its ranks millions of working people and young people who desperately want to be involved in determining the future of our nation.
- Last year, Secretary Hillary Clinton and I agreed upon the need for a Unity Reform Commission to move the party in a new and more democratic direction. In a few weeks, this group will have its final meeting in Washington, D.C., and will decide if we are going to move forward in an inclusive way or continue with the current failed approach. This is not some abstract, insular debate. The future of Democratic Party institutions has everything to do with whether or not Democrats have the grass-roots energy to effectively take on Trump, the Republican Party and their reactionary agenda—or whether we remain in the minority. What are some of the reforms that are desperately needed? First, it is absurd that the Democratic Party now gives over 700 superdelegates—almost one-third the number a presidential candidate needs to win the nomination—the power to control the nominating process and ignore the will of voters. Second, in contrast to Republicans, Democrats believe in making voting easier, not harder. We believe in universal and same-day voter registration and ending antiquated, arbitrary and discriminatory voter registration laws. These same principles must apply to our primaries. Our job must be to reach out to independents and to young people and bring them into the Democratic Party process. Independent voters are critical to general election victories. Locking them out of primaries is a pathway to failure. In that regard, it is absurd that New Yorkers must change their party registration six months before the Democratic primary in order to participate. Other states have similar, if not as onerous provisions. Third, in states that use caucuses, we must make it easier for working people and students to participate. While there is much to be said for bringing people together, face to face to discuss why they support the candidate of their choice, not everybody is able to participate because of work, child care or other obligations. A process must be developed that gives everyone the right to cast a vote even if they are not physically able to attend a caucus. Finally, if we are to succeed, we must fully appreciate Brazile’s revelations and understand the need for far more transparency in the financial and policy workings of the Democratic Party. Hundreds of millions of dollars flow in and out of the Democratic National Committee with little to no accountability. That simply is not acceptable.
- At a time when we have a Republican president and Republican Party whose leadership and agenda are strongly opposed by the American people, now is the time for real change. It is critical that we come together and reform the Democratic Party. When we do that, we will win local, state and national elections and transform our country.
We must end global oligarchy (November 2017)
- One of the major, untold stories of our time is the rapid movement toward global oligarchy, in which just a handful of billionaires now own and control a significant part of the world economy. Here in the United States, the top one-tenth of 1% owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90%. Incredibly, according to a recent report from the Institute for Policy Studies, three of the richest people in America – Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett – now own more wealth than bottom 160 million people in our country. But this is clearly not just an American issue. It is a global issue. While millions of people throughout the world live in dire poverty, without clean drinking water, adequate health care, decent housing, or education for their kids, the six wealthiest people in the world as ranked by Forbes Magazine own more wealth, according to Oxfam, than the bottom half of the world’s population, 3.6 billion people. This massive level of wealth and income inequality, and the political power associated with that wealth, is an issue that cannot continue be ignored. We must fight back.
- Thanks to the so-called Paradise Papers, a trove of millions of documents analyzed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and its collaborating news outlets, we now have a better understanding of how the largest corporations and wealthiest people in the world avoid paying their taxes and hide ownership of assets. Needless to say, these billionaires are all strong supporters of our military, our veterans, our infrastructure, our schools and other government services. They would just prefer that you pay for those activities, not them. According to the ICIJ’s investigative reporting, the Americans listed as having offshore accounts in the Paradise Papers, (which have not been independently reviewed by CNN), are a who’s who of billionaires, some of whom are the very same officials who have led the effort to promote the Republican tax plan, which would provide even more tax-avoiding opportunities to the very rich. Even before these revelations, we knew that tax dodging by the wealthy and large corporations, not just in the US but globally, was taking place on a massive scale. In 2012, the Tax Justice Network, a British advocacy group, estimated that at least $21 trillion was stashed in offshore tax havens around the world. In other words, while governments enact austerity budgets, which lower the standard of living of working people, the super-rich avoid their taxes.
- According to Berkeley economist Gabriel Zucman, individuals in the US are avoiding $36 billion through offshore tax schemes and US corporations are avoiding more than $130 billion through these schemes. The situation has become so absurd that one five-story office building in the Caymans is now the "home" of nearly 20,000 corporations – and that is just one of many tax havens operating across the globe. The essence of oligarchy is that the billionaire class is never satisfied with what they have. They want more, more and more – no matter what impact their efforts have on working people, the elderly, children, the sick and the poor. Greed is their religion. While the oligarchs are avoiding their taxes, Trump and his Republican colleagues, ostensibly in order to save federal dollars, have been trying to throw tens of millions of Americans off of their health insurance, and make massive cuts in education, nutrition assistance and affordable housing.
- As a candidate for president, Trump promised that he would stand up for the working class of this country. Needless to say, that was a lie. Almost half of the benefits in the Trump/Republican tax plan would go to the top 1%, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. Additionally, they want to lower the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%, even though in 2012 one out of every five large, profitable corporations in the US paid no federal income taxes at all and between 2008 and 2015, 18 corporations had a tax rate lower than 0%. Republicans also want to make it easier for companies to shelter their profits overseas and pay zero taxes. The “territorial tax system” they are proposing, which means companies would be taxed only on income earned within our country’s borders, would exempt the offshore profits of American corporations from US taxes and allow for a one-time 12% tax on their offshore cash profits when brought back into the United States. Meanwhile, while the wealthy and large corporations are receiving huge tax breaks, nearly half of middle-class families would actually see their taxes go up by the end of the decade by eliminating deductions for medical expenses, student loan interest rates, state and local income and sales taxes, and the cost of health insurance for the self-employed.
- The Paradise Papers make it clearer than ever that we need, in the United States and throughout the world, a tax system which is fair, progressive and transparent. Now is the time, in the United States and internationally, for people to come together to take on the greed of the oligarchs. We can and must create a global economy that works for all, not just a handful of billionaires.
- Sanders: I have a D minus voting record, from the NRA. I lost an election probably, for congress here in Vermont back in 1988, because I believe we should not be selling or distributing assault weapons in this country. I am on record and have been for a very long time in saying we have got to significantly tighten up the background checks. We have to end the absurdity of the gun show loophole. 40 percent of the guns in this country are sold without any background checks. We have to deal with the straw man provision which allows people to legally buy guns and then distribute. We’ve got to take on the NRA. And that is my view. And I am, will do everything I can to—the tragedy that we saw in Parkland is unspeakable. And all over this country, parents are scared to death of what might happen when they send their kids to school. This problem is not going to be easily solved. Nobody has a magic solution, alright, but we’ve got to do everything we can do protect the children—
Todd: What does that mean? You say everything we can. Does that mean raising the age when you can purchase an AR-15? Does that mean limiting the purchase of AR-15s?
Sanders: Yes! Yeah, look. Chuck, what I just told you is that for 30 years, I believe that we should not be selling assault weapons in this country. These weapons are not for hunting, they are for killing human beings. These are military weapons. I do not know why we have five million of them running around the United States of America, so of course we have to do that. Of course we have to make it harder for people to purchase weapons. We have people now who are on terrorist watch lists who can purchase a weapon. Does this make any sense to anybody. Bottom line here, Republicans are going to have to say that it’s more important to protect the children of this country than to antagonize the NRA. Are they prepared to do that, I surely hope they are.
- Interviewed by Chuck Todd of NBC News on Meet the Press on 18 February 2018 after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting ("Meet the Press - 18 February 2018". Meet the Press. NBC News. 18 February 2018. Retrieved on 1 September 2018. ).
- I think that what we need is to create policies which deal with immigration in a rational way. And a rational way is not locking children up in detention centers or separating them from their mothers. What we need is Trump to sit down with members of Congress and work on a rational program which deals with this serious issue.
- Answering to Jake Tapper on if he is in favor of abolishing the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Mirkinson, Jack (26 June 2018). "Not Good Enough, Bernie Sanders". Splinter News. Retrieved on 27 June 2018.
- I am not a great fan of shouting down people or being rude to people, I think we have a situation and a Congress that's way out of touch with where the American people are. People have a right to be angry when Congress gives tax breaks to billionaires and wants to cut nutrition programs for low income pregnant women. You have a right to be angry. Take that out in a constructive way. ... I think people have a right to go into a restaurant and have dinner, that's where we got to place our energy. I do know that people are angry. They are angry about these terribly inhumane immigration policies. They're angry about the fact they can't afford prescription drugs. They are angry about tax breaks that go to billionaires. The way to deal with that is exactly what Alexandria did. Organize at the grass roots level. Win elections and get involved in the political process.
- About the Red Hen restaurant controversy. Video online at Mediaite, 27 June 2018.
- As the FEC fundraising deadline for 2019 approaches, I am once again asking for your financial support.
- This quote from one of Sanders' fundraising videos later became a meme. (December 30, 2019)
- Now there’s a real competition going on up here... My good friend Joe (Biden)... he’s received contributions from 44 billionaires. Pete (Buttigieg) on the other hand, is trailing, you only got 39 billionaires contributing.
- Instead of spending $1.8 trillion a year globally on weapons of destruction... to kill each other, maybe we pool our resources and fight our common enemy which is climate change... I do believe this is the existential issue... People of color in fact, are going to be the people suffering most if we do not deal with climate change.
- Sanders takes aim at Biden, Buttigieg in heated debate, in VTDigger (Dec 19, 2019)
- President Donald Trump’s own words helped inspire the worst act of antisemitic violence in American history.
- We have to be clear that while antisemitism is a threat to Jews everywhere, it is also a threat to democratic governance itself. The antisemites who marched in Charlottesville don’t just hate Jews. They hate the idea of multiracial democracy. They hate the idea of political equality. They hate immigrants, people of color, LGBTQ people, women, and anyone else who stands in the way of a whites-only America. They accuse Jews of coordinating a massive attack on white people worldwide, using people of color and other marginalized groups to do their dirty work.
- The forces fomenting antisemitism are the forces arrayed against oppressed people around the world, including Palestinians; the struggle against antisemitism is also the struggle for Palestinian freedom. I stand in solidarity with my friends in Israel, in Palestine, and around the world who are trying to resolve conflict, diminish hatred, and promote dialogue, cooperation, and understanding.
- I agree with what goes on in Canada and in Scandinavia: guaranteeing healthcare to all people as a human right. I believe that the United States should not be the only major country on Earth not to provide paid family and medical leave. I believe that every worker in this country deserves a living wage and that we expand the trade union movement.
- I happen to believe also that what, to me, democratic socialism means is we deal with an issue we do not discuss enough... not in the media and not in Congress. You’ve got three people in America owning more wealth than the bottom half of this country. You’ve got a handful of billionaires controlling what goes on in Wall Street, the insurance companies and in the media. Maybe, just maybe, what we should be doing is creating an economy that works for all of us, not 1%. That’s my understanding of democratic socialism.
- We have to talk about democratic socialism as an alternative to unfettered capitalism, where the rich get richer and almost everybody else is getting poorer. I think that’s a message that young people are receptive to, and I think it’s a message that working people are receptive to.
- Right now, the average worker in America is making, in inflation-accounted-for dollars, and despite a huge increase in technology and worker productivity, exactly the same amount of money that he or she made 43 years ago. That’s incomprehensible.
- There has been a massive transfer of wealth from the working class of this country to the top 1 percent. And at the end of the day, John—and the media doesn’t talk about it, the corporate media does not talk about it—nobody can defend three families in this country owning more wealth than the bottom half of the American people. Or that 49 percent of all new income today goes to the top 1 percent. That is indefensible. That is outrageous. That is immoral. And I think the American people understand that has got to change...
- Today, we say to our young people that we want you to get the best education that you can, regardless of the income of your family. Good jobs require a good education. That is why we are going to make public colleges and universities tuition free, and cancel all student debt...
- College for All and Cancel All Student Debt (June 2019)
- The U.S. military, unlike any other, maintains a doctrine of global power projection: that it should have the ability, through roughly 800 overseas military bases, to intervene with deadly force absolutely anywhere on the planet. In a way, though, land forces are secondary; at least since World War II, the key to U.S. military doctrine has always been a reliance on air power. The United States has fought no war in which it did not control the skies, and it has relied on aerial bombardment far more systematically than any other military-in its recent occupation of Iraq, for instance, even going so far as to bomb residential neighborhoods of cities ostensibly under its own control. The essence of U.S. military predominance in the world is, ultimately, the fact that it can, at will, drop bombs, with only a few hours' notice, at absolutely any point on the surface of the planet. No other government has ever had anything remotely like this sort of capability. In fact, a case could well be made that it is this very power that holds the entire world monetary system, organized around the dollar, together.
- Attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman are unacceptable and must be fully investigated... but this incident must not be used as a pretext for a war with Iran, a war which would be an unmitigated disaster for the United States, Iran, the region, and the world... The time is now for the United States to exert international leadership,... and bring the countries in the region together to forge a diplomatic solution to the growing tensions...I would also remind President Trump that there is no congressional authorization for a war with Iran... A unilateral U.S. attack on Iran would be illegal and unconstitutional.
- Andrea Germanos (14 June 2019), "Trump Must Not Be Allowed to Use Gulf of Oman Incidents as 'Pretext for Illegal War With Iran': Bernie Sanders", Common Dreams
- What he [Donald Trump] is doing and this is his entire political strategy is to divide the American people... So you have a president who gives tax breaks to billionaires and wants to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. That's not what he's going to run on. You've got a president who tried to throw 32 million people off health care. He ain't gonna run on that one. You got a president who gave 83% of the tax benefits to the top 1%, not going to run on that one. So how do you win an election? What do you say — "You see those undocumented people, they all your enemy. Stand with me. Hate them. Let's divide this country up." I think that is an incredibly ugly and dangerous thing to be done. And I will do everything I can to stop that.
- Face the Nation, CBS, 2019-06-23, quoted in Chris Morran (23 June 2019), "'Stand With Me. Hate Them': Bernie Sanders says Trump's Relection Plan is Based on Dividing the Country", Newsweek
- In the richest country in the history of the world, it is not radical to demand that when people turn on their taps, the water they drink is safe and clean. It has been 5 years since the start of the Flint water crisis. This is absolutely unacceptable.
- Twitter post, (25 April 2019), quoted in Ron Fonger (25 April 2019), "City flags fly at half-staff as mayor tells Flint to 'never forget’ water crisis", MLive
- If somebody commits a serious crime – sexual assault, murder – they're going to be punished. They may be in jail for 10 years, 20 years, 50 years, their whole lives. That's what happens when you commit a serious crime. But I think the right to vote is inherent to our democracy. Yes, even for terrible people, because once you start chipping away and you say, 'Well, that guy committed a terrible crime; not going to let him vote. You're running down a slippery slope.
- Takeaways from Bernie Sanders' CNN town hall, Eric Bradner and Maeve Reston (April 22, 2019) speech at CNN Town Hall, Manchester, NH
- I learned a great deal about immigration as a child because my father came from Poland at the age of 17, without a nickel in his pocket, without knowing one word of English. He came to the United States to escape the crushing poverty that existed in his community, and to escape widespread anti-Semitism. And, it was a good thing that he came to this country because virtually his entire family was wiped out by Hitler and Nazi barbarism... The underlying principles of our government will not be racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, and religious bigotry. I did not come from a family that taught me to build a corporate empire through housing discrimination. I protested housing discrimination, was arrested for protesting school segregation, and one of the proudest days of my life was attending the March on Washington for jobs and freedom led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
- Quoted in Cornel West on Bernie, Trump, and Racism, The Intercept, Mehdi Hasan (7 March 2019)
- What I fear is going on in the House now is an effort to target Congresswoman Omar as a way of stifling that debate. That’s wrong
Anti-Semitism is a hateful and dangerous ideology which must be vigorously opposed in the United States and around the world
We must not, however, equate anti-Semitism with legitimate criticism of the right-wing, Netanyahu government in Israel.
- 7 March 2019 referencing Ilhan Omar and Benjamin Netanyahu
- Coming from a lower-middle-class family, I will never forget how money or, really, lack of money was always a point of stress in our family... My experience as a child growing up in a family that struggled economically powerfully influenced my values,” he went on, describing growing up the son of a Polish-Jewish immigrant paint salesman who lost nearly his entire family in the Holocaust....Unlike Donald Trump, who shut down the government and left 800,000 federal employees without income to pay their bills, I know what it’s like to be in a family that lives paycheck to paycheck... I did not have a father who gave me millions of dollars to buy luxury skyscrapers, casinos, and country clubs. I did not come from a family that gave me a $200,000 allowance every year beginning at the age of 3. As I recall, my allowance was 25 cents a week...I did not come from a family that taught me to build a corporate empire through housing discrimination, I protested housing discrimination, was arrested for protesting school segregation, and one of the proudest days of my life was attending the March On Washington For Jobs and Freedom led Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
- Quoted in Matthew Zeitlin (4 March 2019), "Bernie Has Feelings, Too!", The Nation
- We are going to transform this country and finally create an economy and a government which works for all of us, not just the 1 percent. The underlying principles of our government will not be greed, hatred and lies. It will not be racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia and religious bigotry. This campaign will be based on justice—on economic justice, on social justice, on racial justice, on environmental justice.
- Quoted in Khristina Narizhnaya and Eileen AJ Connelly (2 March 2019), "Bernie Sanders kicks off 2020 campaign in Brooklyn", The New York Post
- At a time of massive wealth and income inequality, when the three richest Americans own more wealth than 160 million Americans, it is literally beyond belief that the Republican leadership wants to provide hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the top 0.2 percent...
- Our bill does what the American people want by substantially increasing the estate tax on the wealthiest families in this country and dramatically reducing wealth inequality. From a moral, economic, and political perspective our nation will not thrive when so few have so much and so many have so little.
- John Nichols (12 February 2019), "Bernie Sanders Has a Plan to Tax the Rich That’s About As Radical as What Teddy Roosevelt Proposed", The Nation
We need an economy and government that works for all, not just the 1 percent
- In America today, we have more wealth and income inequality than any other major country on Earth and it is worse now than at any other time since the 1920s. Unbelievably, while millions of American workers are forced to work two or three jobs to pay the bills and over half of our people live paycheck to paycheck, the three wealthiest families in our country now own more wealth than the bottom half of Americans – 160 million people.
- Today, while hundreds of thousands of bright young people cannot afford to go to college and millions are struggling with high levels of student debt, the top 1 percent owns more wealth than the bottom 92 percent. Today, while CEOs of major corporations make over 300 times what their average workers earn, thousands of veterans sleep out on the street and 20 percent of senior citizens are trying to survive on a paltry $13,500 income or less. For 40 years, under Democratic and Republican administrations, we have seen a massive redistribution of wealth and income from the working class of this country to the top one percent. In fact, if the distribution of income remained what it was 40 years ago the average household in America would have about $11,000 more in income today. Do you want to know why the American people are angry? Today, despite an explosion in technology and worker productivity, the average worker has seen his/her income go up by just 5 cents an hour over the last 43 years after adjusting for inflation. And, if we don’t turn the economy around, economists predict that the younger generation will have an even a lower standard of living than their parents. This is not acceptable to me. We need an economy that expands the middle class and reduces poverty and not one that makes the very rich much richer.
- When Donald Trump ran for president he made a lot of promises to working families. He told them that he would protect their interests while standing up to the Establishment. Unfortunately, he did not tell the truth. During his campaign, Trump said he would provide "health insurance for everybody,” but as president he has pushed to repeal the Affordable Care Act and throw 32 million Americans off of the health insurance they have. His efforts would also end the protections that are currently in existence for pre-existing conditions and end the ability of people under 26 to stay on their parents’ insurance plans. Meanwhile, while 34 million Americans currently have no health insurance and even more are under-insured with high deductibles and co-payments, a handful of health care CEOs paid themselves more than $1 billion last year. In my view, at a time when we spend almost twice as much per capita on health care as do the people of any other nation, we should not be throwing millions of Americans off of health care they have. Quite the contrary! We should join every other major country on earth and guarantee health care to all people as a right through a Medicare for All, single-payer program. Medicare today is a popular and effective health insurance program for seniors. Over a 4-year period it should be expanded and improved to cover every man, woman and child in the country. And when we do that we significantly reduce the cost of health care for the average American family.
- During his campaign, Trump said that he would stop the pharmaceutical companies from “getting away with murder.” Well, that didn’t happen. They’re making more money than ever. During the first half of last year there were 96 drug price increases for every price cut. Today, in the United States, we pay by far the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, while the top ten pharmaceutical companies made $69 billion in profits last year alone. Shockingly, one out of five Americans cannot afford to purchase the prescription drugs their doctors prescribe. That is insane. As president, I will implement legislation I have introduced which would lower prescription drug prices by 50 percent so Americans no longer pay any more for their medicine than the people of other countries. During his campaign, Trump promised he would not cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. But the budget he proposed in March would cut $1.5 trillion from Medicaid, $845 billion from Medicare, and $25 billion from Social Security. As president, at a time when so many seniors and people with disabilities are struggling, I will not cut Social Security. In fact, legislation that I have introduced would expand Social Security benefits while extending its solvency for over 50 years. During his campaign, Trump promised that “the rich will not be gaining at all” under his tax plan. But the reality is that the plan that he helped pass provides 83 percent of the benefits to the top one percent by the end of the decade. Further, as a result of his tax plan, major profitable corporations like Amazon, General Motors, Chevron, IBM and Eli Lilly and dozens of other major corporations paid zero in federal income taxes after making billions in profits. That is a regressive and unfair tax system that must not be allowed to continue. At a time when the very rich are getting much richer and when corporations are enjoying record-breaking profits, I believe that the wealthiest people in this country have got to start paying their fair share of taxes and that we must end the tax havens that exist in places like the Cayman Islands where corporations and the rich stash trillions of dollars to avoid paying their taxes.
- During his campaign, Trump promised that he would substantially reduce the trade deficit, prevent the outsourcing of American jobs and protect good-paying jobs here at home. However, since Trump has been president the trade deficit in goods has hit a record high of $891 billion and his own Labor Department says that 185,000 American jobs have been shipped overseas under his watch. He has also expanded the tax cut that rewards companies for replacing American workers with robots; created new tax incentives for his corporate allies to shift jobs overseas; and given out $50 billion in government contracts to companies that are offshoring jobs. We are living in a pivotal moment in American history. Our goal must be to create good-paying jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, not give huge tax breaks to people who don’t need them. Our job must be to invest in public education and combat climate change, not spend trillions on never ending wars. Our job must be to bring all Americans together – black, white, Latino, Native American, Asian American, gay and straight, native born and immigrant – and not allow ourselves to be divided up. Together, we can and must create an economy and government that works for all Americans and not just the 1 percent.
Everyone deserves to vote, even felons like Paul Manafort & Michael Cohen
- I have been attacked in recent days by President Trump and others for my conviction that people who are incarcerated should be given the right to vote. I make no apologies for that position. Our country has had a long and shameful history of voter suppression. At our founding, despite rhetoric to the contrary, only land-owning white males were given the right to participate in our democracy. Lower income people, Women, Native Americans, African-Americans, and young people were excluded. We have been engaged in an ongoing 243-year project to expand participation in our democracy. Thankfully, we have made much progress in that struggle. But our work is not done — not even close. If we are serious about calling ourselves a democracy, we must firmly establish that the right to vote is an inalienable and universal principle that applies to all American citizens 18 years and older. Period. As American citizens all of us are entitled to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly and all the other freedoms enshrined in our Bill of Rights. We are also entitled to vote. Yes. Even if Trump’s former campaign manager and personal lawyer end up in jail, they should still be able to vote — regardless of who they cast their vote for.
- This is not a radical idea. Vermont and Maine allow inmates to vote and more than 30 nations — including Israel, South Africa, and Canada — also understand that voting rights for all citizens is a basic principle of democracy. When we look at the history of why our country has banned incarcerated people from voting, we must understand that the efforts to rob citizens of their voting rights was a legacy of slavery and continuing racist attitudes post-Jim Crow. After the ratification of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, which extended civil and legal protections to formerly enslaved people, many state governments rushed to create new felonies to put black people in jail and then institute lifetime disenfranchisement as a way to protect their own privilege and power.
- Indeed, our present-day crisis of mass incarceration has become a tool of voter suppression. Today, over 4.5 million Americans — disproportionately people of color — have lost their right to vote because they have served time in jail or prison for a felony conviction. It goes without saying that someone who commits a serious crime must pay his or her debt to society. But punishment for a crime, or keeping dangerous people behind bars, does not cause people to lose their rights to citizenship. It should not cause them to lose their right to vote. This should not devolve into a debate about whether certain people are "good enough" to have the right to vote. Voting is not a privilege. It is a right. In my view, the crooks on Wall Street who caused the great recession of 2008 that hurt millions of Americans are not "good" people. But they have the right to vote, and it should never be taken away.
- The reason why this issue is so important right now is that Trump and cowardly Republican politicians all over this country are working overtime to suppress the vote. Instead of trying to increase voter turnout, they are making it harder for people to participate in the political process. In Florida, the Republican legislature is trying to undermine the will of 64 percent of the people who voted to reenfranchise formerly incarcerated people. In Georgia, we have a Republican governor who took office by instituting barriers to voting for people of color. In Tennessee, the Republican legislature is trying to shut down groups who do voter registration work. In New Hampshire and Iowa, the Republicans have tried to make it harder for college students to vote. The point here is simple. At a time when voting suppression is taking place all across the country, we must make it clear that casting a ballot for American citizens is not a privilege. It is a right. If you’re an American citizen who is 18 years or older you must be able to vote, whether you're in jail or not.
Ending America’s Endless War
- Foreign Affairs op-ed (24 June 2019)
- The United States has been at war for too long. Even today, we seem to be preparing for a new war with Iran, which would be the worst yet. Earlier this month, President Donald Trump ordered thousands of additional U.S. troops to the Middle East to confront Tehran and its proxies. And we recently learned that the Pentagon had presented the White House with plans to send tens of thousands more. I am very concerned that, whether intentionally or unintentionally, the Trump administration’s moves against Iran, and Iran’s moves in response, could put us in direct conflict. We should all understand that a war with Iran would be many times worse than the Iraq war. U.S. military leaders and security experts have repeatedly told us that. If the United States were to attack Iran, Tehran could use its proxies to retaliate against U.S. troops and partners in Iraq, Syria, Israel, and the Persian Gulf area. The result would be the further, unimaginable destabilization of the Middle East, with wars that go on year after year and likely cost trillions of dollars.
- We need to take a step back and rethink what we are doing, both in Iran and in the broader Middle East. In the nearly two decades since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the United States has made a series of costly blunders that have not only weakened our democracy but also undermined our leadership. We need a foreign policy that focuses on core U.S. interests, clarifies our commitment to democratic values both at home and abroad, and privileges diplomacy and working collectively with allies to address shared security concerns.
- The United States invaded Afghanistan in response to the worst terrorist attack in our country’s history, and with a specific purpose: to bring justice to those who planned the 9/11 attacks and those who supported them, and to make sure that such an attack would never happen again. Our military has now been in Afghanistan for nearly 18 years. Instead of staying focused on those who attacked us, President George W. Bush’s administration chose to declare a global “war on terror” in order justify its 2003 invasion of Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. The war on terror has turned into an endless war. We will soon have troops fighting in Afghanistan who were not even born on September 11, 2001. We have fathers who completed tours of duty there, only to be followed by their sons and daughters. Withdrawing from Afghanistan is something we must do. My administration will not make critical foreign-policy decisions like this one via tweet, as our current president does. We will work closely with our partners and allies to design a serious diplomatic and political strategy to stabilize the region, promote more effective and accountable governance, and ensure that threats do not re-emerge after we leave.
- But just to end our military interventions in these places is not enough. We need to rethink the militaristic approach that has undermined the United States’ moral authority, caused allies to question our ability to lead, drained our tax coffers, and corroded our own democracy. We must never again engage in torture or indefinite detention, and we must limit the use of drone strikes that too often result in high numbers of civilian casualties, boosting the very terrorist organizations that we aim to defeat. And we must seriously reinvest in diplomacy and development aid, both of which have been allowed to atrophy under the current administration. Addressing issues like civil and religious tension, corruption, and lack of opportunity before these conditions give rise to conflict can eliminate the need to address them militarily in the future.
- Terrorism is a very real threat, which requires robust diplomatic efforts, intelligence cooperation with allies and partners, and yes, sometimes military action. But as an organizing framework, the global war on terror has been a disaster for our country. Orienting U.S. national-security strategy around terrorism essentially allowed a few thousand violent extremists to dictate the foreign policy of the most powerful nation on earth. We responded to terrorists by giving them exactly what they wanted. The war on terror has also been staggeringly wasteful. According to the most recent study by the Costs of War Project at Brown University, it will have cost American taxpayers more than $4.9 trillion through the end of this fiscal year. Factoring in the future health-care costs of veterans injured in post-9/11 wars, the bill will be closer to $6 trillion. And even after this enormous expense, the world has more terrorists now, not fewer. According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, there were nearly four times as many Sunni Islamic militants operating around the world in November 2018 as on September 11, 2001. That is no coincidence: the way the United States and its partners have prosecuted this war has caused widespread resentment and anger, which helps those terrorists recruit.
- The war on terror has come with huge opportunity costs as well—things we haven’t been able to do because we were mired in costly overseas conflicts. Competitors like China and Russia have exploited our forever wars to expand their economic and political influence around the world. In China, an inner circle led by President Xi Jinping has steadily consolidated power, clamping down on domestic political freedom while aggressively promoting its version of authoritarian capitalism abroad. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has a grandiose vision of restoring the power that Moscow commanded in the Soviet era, something he knows he cannot achieve. But what he can do, what he is trying to do, is to destroy the alliance of liberal democracies in Europe and North America that stand in the way of Russian resurgence.
- Endless wars help the powerful to draw attention away from economic corruption. In today’s globalized economy, wealth and income inequality are vast and growing. The world’s top one percent possess more wealth than the bottom 99 percent, and a small number of huge financial institutions wield enormous power over the lives of billions of people. Multinational corporations and rich people have stashed more than $21 trillion in offshore bank accounts in order to avoid paying their fair share in taxes. Then they turn around and demand that their governments impose austerity agendas on working families. In industrialized countries, many have begun to question whether democracy can actually deliver for them. They work longer hours for lower wages than they used to. At the same time, they see big money buying elections, and the political and economic elite growing wealthier, even as the their own children’s future dims. Too often, political leaders exploit these fears, stoking resentment and fanning ethnic and racial hatred among those who are struggling. We see this very clearly in our own country, coming from the highest level of our government. When our elected leaders, pundits, and cable news personalities promote relentless fear-mongering about Muslim terrorists, they inevitably create a climate of fear and suspicion around Muslim American citizens—a climate in which demagogues like Trump can thrive. By turning our immigration debate into a debate about Americans’ personal security, we have conflated one policy conundrum with another and subjected all those who seek a better life in the United States to xenophobia and defamation. There is a straight line from the decision to reorient U.S. national-security strategy around terrorism after 9/11 to placing migrant children in cages on our southern border.
- All the while, truly severe looming threats like climate change have failed to capture much-needed attention and commitment. The scientific community is virtually unanimous in telling us that climate change is real, that it is caused by human activity, and that it is already doing devastating harm throughout the world. If we don’t act boldly to address the climate crisis, we are all but certain to see more drought, more floods, more extreme weather disturbances, more acidification of oceans whose levels are rising, and, because of resultant mass migration, more threats to global stability and security. According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we only have about 12 years to take action before a rise in the planet’s temperature will cause irreversible damage.
- Climate change is a clear example of an issue on which American leadership can make a difference—and from which our endless entanglements in the Middle East have diverted crucial resources and attention. Europe cannot address this problem alone. Nor can China. Nor can the United States. This crisis calls out for strong international cooperation if we are to leave our children and grandchildren a planet that is healthy and habitable. American leadership—and the economic and scientific advantages that only America can offer—can and must facilitate this effort.
- Enough is enough. In March, we had a historic vote in both houses of Congress to end U.S. military involvement in Yemen’s civil war. This vote demonstrated strong bipartisan concern over unconstitutional and unauthorized wars, and it served as an important reminder that Congress must reassert its constitutional authority over the use of military force. I was one of those who opposed the Iraq war. Trump claims he opposed it too, but, in truth, he only did so after the fact. Trump campaigned on getting the United States out of "endless war," but his administration is taking us down a path that makes another war more likely. We can and we must pursue a different option. The American people don’t want endless war. Neither do we want a foreign policy that is based on the logic that led to those wars and corroded our democracy: a logic that privileges military tools over diplomatic ones, aggressive unilateralism over multilateral engagement, and acquiescence to our undemocratic partners over the pursuit of core interests alongside democratic allies who truly share our values. We have to view the terrorism threat through the proper scope, rather than allowing it to dominate our view of the world. The time has come to envision a new form of American engagement: one in which the United States leads not in war-making but in bringing people together to find shared solutions to our shared concerns. American power should be measured not by our ability to blow things up, but by our ability to build on our common humanity, harnessing our technology and enormous wealth to create a better life for all people.
- The difficulty that we have, and I don't mean to be rude here, is that we have a president who is a pathological liar. So, could it be true? I guess it could be. Is it likely to be true? Probably not. And I think what happens in our own country and around the world, people don't believe much of what Trump says, and when you lie all the time, the problem is sometimes when you're telling the truth that people are not gonna believe you.
- Today, NBC, quoted in Adam Edelman (10 January 2020), "Sen. Bernie Sanders slams Trump as 'pathological liar'", NBC News
- The difference between my socialism and Trump's socialism is, I believe the government should help working families, not billionaires.
- Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, quoted in Russell Berman (11 February 2020), "The Night Socialism Went Mainstream", The Atlantic
- It is ludicrous to believe that at the same meeting where Elizabeth Warren told me she was going to run for president, I would tell her that a woman couldn't win. It's sad that, three weeks before the Iowa caucus and a year after that private conversation, staff who weren't in the room are lying about what happened. What I did say that night was that Donald Trump is a sexist, a racist and a liar who would weaponize whatever he could. Do I believe a woman can win in 2020? Of course! After all, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by 3 million votes in 2016.
- Annie Linskey and Sean Sullivan (13 January 2020), "Sanders-Warren feud takes a turn onto the dangerous turf of gender", Washington Post
- If there is going to be class warfare in this country, it’s time that the working class of this country won that war and not just the corporate elite. (Senator Sanders was speaking to the Iowa AFL-CIO convention summer 2019)
- Quoted by Norman Solomon in The Escalating Class War Against Bernie Sanders (18 Feb 2020)
- Let's talk about democratic socialism. We are living in many ways in a socialist society right now. The problem is, as Dr. Martin Luther King reminded us, "We have socialism for the very rich, rugged individualism for the poor." When Donald Trump gets $800 million in tax breaks and subsidies to build luxury condominiums, that's socialism for the rich. We have to subsidize Walmart’s workers on Medicaid and food stamps because the wealthiest family in America pays starvation wages. That's socialism for the rich. I believe in democratic socialism for working people. Not billionaires. Health care for all. Educational opportunity for all.
- "Bloomberg takes a beating, Sanders defends socialism in fiery debate", Politico, 19 February 2020
- Occasionally, it might be a good idea to be honest about American foreign policy.
- South Carolina democratic debate (25 February 2020), as quoted in CNN
- Donald Trump is the most dangerous president in the modern history of our country and he must be defeated.
Tragically, we have a president today who is a pathological liar and who is running a corrupt administration. He clearly does not understand the Constitution of the United States and thinks that he is a president who is above the law. In my view, he is a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a xenophobe and a religious bigot, and he must be defeated, and I will do everything in my power to make that happen.
- Let me be absolutely clear: in terms of potential deaths and the impact on our economy, the crisis we face from coronavirus is on the scale of a major war, and we must act accordingly. Nobody knows how many fatalities we may see, but they could equal or surpass the U.S. casualties we saw in World War II. It is an absolute moral imperative that our response -- as a government, as a society, as business communities, and as individuals -- meets the enormity of this crisis... If our neighbor or co-worker gets sick, we have the potential to get sick. If our neighbors lose their jobs, then our local economies suffer, and we may lose our jobs. If doctors and nurses do not have the equipment and staffing capacity they need now, people we know and love may die. The American people deserve transparency... We need daily information -- clear, science-based information -- from credible scientific voices, not politicians.
- The pharmaceutical industry must be told in no uncertain terms that the medicines that they manufacture for this crisis will be sold at cost. This is not the time for profiteering or price gouging.
- Here is the bottom line. When we are dealing with this crisis, we need to listen to the scientists, to the researchers, to the medical folks, not politicians. We need an emergency response to this crisis and we need it now.
- Jake Johnson (12 March 2020), "Now Is the Time for Solidarity: Bernie Sanders Addresses Health and Economic Crisis Facing US as Coronavirus Spreads", Common Dreams
- Let's be clear, the lack of health care and affordable medicine does not only threaten the health and well-being of the uninsured, it impacts everyone who comes in contact with them. In fact, what this crisis is beginning to teach us is that we are only as safe as the least insured person in America.
- Press conference, Burlington, Vermont, quoted in Seth McLaughlin (13 March 2020), "America 'only as safe as the least insured person,' Sanders says regarding coronavirus emergency", The Washington Times
- Sanders: You have to stop with this. I'm dealing with a fucking global crisis. You know? We're dealing with it and you're asking me these questions.
Manu Raju (CNN): You're running for president, so...
Sanders: Well right now I'm running. Right now I'm trying to do my best to make sure that we don't have an economic meltdown and that people don't die. Is that enough to you? To keep you busy for today?
- Press conference about coronavirus measures, 2020-03-18, asked about his campaign plans, quoted in Tom Pappert (19 March 2020), "Audio: Bernie Asked About Ending Campaign, Responds ‘I’m Dealing With A F*cking Global Crisis’", National File
- Trump was saying that the only way he could lose the election is if there was — let me get the exact quote — "the only way they can take this election away from us is if this is a rigged election." Now he is making that statement at a time when virtually every national poll has him behind.
- I think it is fair to say that in many ways the Democratic Party has become a party of the coastal elites, folks who have a lot of money, upper-middle-class people who are good people, who believe in social justice in many respects.... But I think for many, many years the Democratic Party has not paid the kind of attention to working-class needs that they should've.
Democratic Presidential Debate in Charleston, South Carolina (25 February 2020)
Transcript, CBS News (25 February 2020)
- O'DONNELL: Senator Sanders, we haven't had a national unemployment rate this low for this long in 50 years. Here in South Carolina, the unemployment rate is even lower. How will you convince voters that a Democratic socialist can do better than President Trump with the economy?
- SANDERS: Well, you're right. The economy is doing really great for people like Mr. Bloomberg and other billionaires. In the last three years, last three years, billionaires in this country saw an $850 billion increase in their wealth. But you know what? For the ordinary American, things are not so good. Last year, real wage increases for the average worker were less than 1 percent. Half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck; 87 million Americans have no health insurance or are underinsured; 45 million people are struggling with student debt; 500,000 people tonight are sleeping out on the street, including 30,000 veterans. That is not an economy that's working for the American people. That's an economy working for the 1 percent. We're going to create an economy for all, not just wealthy campaign contributors.
- O'DONNELL: Mayor Bloomberg, I'll let you respond to that. Do you think Senator Sanders' economy would be better for America than President Trump's?
- BLOOMBERG: I think that Donald Trump thinks it would be better if he's president. I do not think so. Vladimir Putin thinks that Donald Trump should be president of the United States. And that's why Russia is helping you get elected, so you will lose to him.
- SANDERS: Oh, Mr. Bloomberg. Let me tell Mr. Putin, OK, I'm not a good friend of President Xi of China. I think President Xi is an authoritarian leader. And let me tell Mr. Putin, who interfered in the 2016 election, try to bring Americans against Americans, hey, Mr. Putin, if I'm president of the United States, trust me, you're not going to interfere in any more American elections.
- SANDERS: I wonder why. And maybe, you know, Pete mentions what the American people want. I will tell you, Pete, what the American people want, and, Joe, what the American people want. They don't want candidates to be running to billionaires for huge amounts of funding.
- BUTTIGIEG: All right, let's clear this up once and for all.
- SANDERS: Pete has gotten funding from over 50 billionaires.
- BUTTIGIEG: You've got people believing something that is false. This needs to be cleared up.
- SANDERS: Joe, I think, has gotten a little bit more. What the American people want, by the way, and a lot of the issues we'll be discussing tonight are issues I raised four years ago: raising the minimum wage to a living wage, 15 bucks an hour. Making public colleges and universities tuition-free. And finally, doing what every other major country on Earth does, guaranteeing health care to all people as a human right through a Medicare for All, single-payer system.
- O'DONNELL: I want to allow Senator Sanders to respond because you've gone after the insurance industry. You've taken on pharmaceutical companies. And you've taken on big tech. Why did you vote repeatedly to give gun manufacturers a pass?
- SANDERS: Well, you know, Joe has voted for terrible trade agreements. No, no, no, no, no. Joe voted for the war in Iraq. My point was, not to be -- I have cast thousands of votes, including bad votes. That was a bad vote. I have today a D-minus voting record from the NRA. Thirty years ago, I likely lost a race for the one seat for Congress in Vermont because 30 years ago, I opposed -- I supported a ban on assault weapons. Thirty years ago. Right now, my view is we need to expand background checks, end the gun show loophole, and do what the American people want, not what the NRA wants.
- SANDERS: Thirty years ago, I supported a ban on assault weapons. Mike Bloomberg has started a very good organization, Moms Demand Actions. Congratulations.
- BLOOMBERG: Thank you.
- SANDERS: They have credited me with gun sense, as you know.
- BLOOMBERG: Yes, we did.
- SANDERS: Furthermore, furthermore, it is my view, the time is now, and Joe made this point, look, at the end of the day we need to rally the American people. Here is the good news. Because of all these disgusting and horrific mass shootings, the American people now understand that we must be aggressive on gun safety, not be dictated to by the NRA. And I am proud that I have a D-minus voting record from the NRA. If elected president, it will get worse than that.
- This campaign, our campaign, our campaign is about changing American priorities. Instead of giving tax breaks to billionaires, we're going to have high-quality, universal childcare for every family in this country. Because the psychologists tell us 0 to 4 are the most important years of human development. We are going to triple funding for low-income Title I schools, because kids' education should not depend upon the ZIP Code in which they live. We're going to make public colleges and universities tuition-free through a tax on Wall Street speculation. And we're going to move to make certain that no teacher in America earns less than $60,000 a year.
- Thank you. All right, look, you're right. We have a criminal justice system today that is not only broken, it is racist, got more people in jail than any other country on Earth, including China. And one of the reasons for that is a horrific war on drugs. So I do believe that, on day one, we will change the Federal Controlled Substance Act, which, if you can believe it, now equates heroin with marijuana. That's insane. We're going to take marijuana out of that and effectively legalize marijuana in every state in the country. What we are also going to do is move to expunge the records of those people who were arrested for possession of marijuana. And I'll tell you what else we're going to do. We're going to provide help to the African-American, Latino, Native American community to start businesses to sell legal marijuana, rather than let a few corporations control the legalized marijuana market.
- In the White House today -- in the White House today, we have a self-described "great genius" -- self-described -- and this "great genius" has told us that this Coronavirus is going to end in two months. April is the magical day that this great scientist we have in the White House has determined -- I wish I was kidding; that is what he said. What do we have to do? Whether or not the issue is climate change, which is clearly a global crisis requiring international cooperation, or infectious diseases like Coronavirus, requiring international cooperation, we have to work and expand the World Health Organization. Obviously, we have to make sure the CDC, the NIH, our infectious departments, are fully funded. This is a global problem.
- Can I respond? Amy used the word alienating. Hey, Amy, my favorability nationally I believe are the highest up here, as a matter of fact. All right. But the point is -- the point is the way we are going to beat Trump, which is what everybody up here wants, is we need a campaign of energy and excitement. We need to have the largest voter turnout in the history of the United States. We need to bring working people back in to the Democratic Party. We need to get young people voting in a way they have never done before. That is what our campaign is about.
- GARRETT: Senator Sanders -- no, Senator Sanders, I have a question for you, sir. You're the frontrunner in this race. You're on the ballot in South Carolina. Mayor Bloomberg, you'll understand that preamble in just a second. If elected, Senator Sanders, you would be America's first Jewish president. You recently called a very prominent, well-known American Israel lobby a platform for, quote, "bigotry." What would you say to American Jews who might be concerned you're not, from their perspective, supportive enough of Israel? And specifically, sir, would you move the U.S. embassy back to Tel Aviv?
- SANDERS: Let me just -- the answer is, it's something that we would take into consideration. But here -- excuse me. But here is the point. I am very proud of being Jewish. I actually lived in Israel for some months. But what I happen to believe is that, right now, sadly, tragically, in Israel, through Bibi Netanyahu, you have a reactionary racist who is now running that country. And I happen to believe -- I happen to believe that what our foreign policy in the Mideast should be about is absolutely protecting the independence and security of Israel, but you cannot ignore the suffering of the Palestinian people. We have got to have a policy that reaches out to the Palestinians and the Americans. And in answer to your question, that will come within the context of bringing nations together in the Mideast.
- SANDERS: Misconception?
- KING: Yes.
- SANDERS: Misconception -- and you're hearing it here tonight, is that the ideas I'm talking about are radical. They're not. In one form or another, they exist in countries all over the world. Health care is a human right. We have the necessity, the moral imperative, to address the existential threat of climate change. Other countries are doing that. We don't need more people in jail, disproportionately African-American, than any other country on earth -- not a radical idea. The motto, the saying that -- that moves me the most is from Nelson Mandela. And Mandela said, "Everything is impossible until it happens." And that means, if we have the guts to stand up to powerful special interests who are doing phenomenally well; if we can bring working people together, black and white and Latino, we can create a nation... where all people have a good standard of living.
Democratic Presidential Debate in Washington, D.C. (15 March 2020)
Transcript, CNN (15 March 2020)
- TAPPER: Senator Sanders, this morning, Dr. Anthony Fauci acknowledged that it's possible that hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Americans, could die from coronavirus in a worst-case scenario. If you were president right now, what's the most important thing you would do tonight to try to save American lives?
- SANDERS: Well, firstly, we have to do -- whether or not I'm president, is to shut this president up right now, because he is undermining the doctors and the scientists who are trying to help the American people. It is unacceptable for him to be blabbering with unfactual information, which is confusing the general public. Second of all, what we need to do -- and I'm glad that he has called a state of national emergency -- what we have got to do is move aggressively to make sure that every person in this country finally understands that when they get sick with the coronavirus, that they will -- that all payments will be made, that they don't have to worry about coming up with money for testing, they don't have to worry about coming up with money for treatment. This is an unprecedented moment in American history. Now, I obviously believe in Medicare for all. I will fight for that as president. But right now, in this emergency, I want every person in this country to understand that when you get sick, you go to the doctor. When you get sick, if you have the virus, that will be paid for. Do not worry about the cost right now, because we're in the middle of a national emergency. Second of all, we have to make sure that our hospitals have the ventilators that they need, have the IC units that they need. Right now, we have a lack of medical personnel. And I worry very much that if there is a peak, whether we have the capability of dealing with hundreds of thousands of people who may be in hospitals. So we need unprecedented action right now to deal with the unprecedented crisis. And bottom line, from an economic point of view, what we have got to say to the American people, if you lose your job, you will be made whole. You're not going to lose income. If Trump can put -- or the Fed can president $1.5 trillion into the banking system, we can protect the wages of every worker in America.
- Jake, let's be honest and understand that this coronavirus pandemic exposes the incredible weakness and dysfunctionality of our current health care system. Now, we're spending twice as much per person on health care as the people of any other country. How in God's name does it happen that we end up with 87 million people who are uninsured or underinsured and there are people who are watching this program tonight who are saying, "I'm not feeling well. Should I go to the doctor? But I can't afford to go to the doctor. What happens if I am sick? It's going to cost thousands of for treatment. Who's going to feed my kids?" We are the only major country on Earth not to guarantee health care to all people. We're spending so much money and yet we are not even prepared for this pandemic. How come we don't have enough doctors? How come hospitals in rural areas are shutting down? How come people can't afford to get the prescription drugs they need because we have a bunch of crooks who are running the pharmaceutical industry, ripping us off every single day? And I'll tell you something right now. In the midst of this epidemic, you got people in the pharmaceutical industry who are saying, oh, wow, what an opportunity to make a fortune. So the word has got to go out, and I certainly would do this as president: You don't worry. People of America, do not worry about the cost of prescription drugs. Do not worry about the cost of the health care that you're going to get, because we are a nation -- a civilized democratic society. Everybody, rich and poor, middle class, will get the care they need. The drug companies will not rip us off.
- BASH: Thank you. Thank you. Senator Sanders, your response?
- SANDERS: Well, first of all, the dysfunctionality of the current health care system is obviously apparent. As I said earlier, there are people who hesitate going to the doctor. You're going to have a maze of regulations -- well, if this is my income, if that's my income, can I get it, can I not get it? Clearly, we are not prepared. And Trump only exacerbates the crisis. When we spend twice as much per capita on health care as any other nation, one might expect that we would have enough doctors all over this country. One might expect that we would have affordable prescription drugs. One might expect that we are preparing effectively for a pandemic that we were ready with the ventilators, with the ICUs, with the test kits that we need. We are not. And bottom line here is, in terms of Medicare for all, despite what the vice president is saying, what the experts tell us is that one of the reasons that we are unprepared and have been unprepared is we don't have a system. We've got thousands of private insurance plans. That is not a system that is prepared to provide health care to all people. In a good year, without the epidemic, we're losing up to 60,000 people who die every year because they don't get to a doctor on time. It's clearly this crisis is only making a bad situation worse.
- BIDEN: That has nothing to do when you're in a national crisis. The national crisis says, we're responding. It's all free. You don't have to pay for a thing. That has nothing to do with whether or not you have an insurance policy. This is a crisis. We're at war with the virus. We're at war with the virus. It has nothing to do with co-pays or anything. We just pass a law saying that you do not have to pay for any of this, period.
- SANDERS: That's not true.
- BIDEN: Period.
- SANDERS: As a matter of fact, that's not true. That law has enormous loopholes. I understand that Nancy Pelosi did her best, Republicans prevented it.
- BIDEN: No, I'm...
- SANDERS: What -- what you're talking about, Joe, here is enormous loopholes within that, that, in fact, it is not necessarily covering treatment for all people in America, and that people are going to be stuck with the bill unless we change that. And we're going to offer legislation to, in fact, change that.
- BIDEN: If I may, I offered legislation. I laid out on my plan that it would cover exactly what is not covered by the House. I laid out in the plan that I laid out for how we would deal with this crisis. Nobody -- nobody will pay for anything having to do with the crisis. This is a national emergency. There isn't a question of whether or not this is something that could be covered by insurance or anything else. We, out of the Treasury, are going to pay for this. It's a national emergency.
- SANDERS: But you see...
- BIDEN: That's what my plan calls for.
- SANDERS: But the weakness of this -- let's just do a hypothetical. Family member's diagnosed with the virus. Terrible tragedy, massive anxiety. The wife has the virus, the husband is a wreck, wants to go to a psychologist, wants to get counseling, doesn't have the money to do that. Maybe their kid breaks a leg. They don't have the money to go to health care. So you're saying right now, in the middle of a crisis, but, you know what, last year at least 30,000 people died in America because they didn't get health care when they should, because we don't have universal coverage. I think that's a crisis. One out of five people in America cannot afford the prescription drugs they need. They suffer. Some die. I consider that a crisis. Bottom line is, we need a simple system, which exists in Canada, exists in countries all over the world, and that is, if you are an American, you get the health care you need, end of discussion. We can save huge sums of money doing that. The trick is, do we have the guts to take on the health care industry, some of which is funding the vice president's campaign? Do we have the courage to take on the executives at the prescription drug industry, some of which -- some of whom are funding his campaign?
- Well, I think we use all of the tools that make sense. And if using the National Guard, which is folks I think in New York state are already using the National Guard, that is something that has to be done. This is clearly, as the vice president indicated, a national emergency. And what I worry about is not only how we respond aggressively to the virus, but also how we respond aggressively to the economic fallout of a global recession. So right now, in Illinois and Ohio, if my memory is correct, the governor there has said they're closing down bars, they're closing down restaurants. What happens to the workers who are there? What happens to the millions of workers who may end up losing their jobs? So what I think we have got to do right now is, if Trump can provide or the Fed can provide a trillion and a half to -- for liquidity for the banks, what we've got to say to every worker in America, you know what, don't panic. You're not going to -- you'll be able to pay your mortgage, because you're going to get a check.
- Well, the Ebola crisis is one thing. This is, obviously, a pandemic, which is far more severe and impactful to this country. And I think one of the things that we want to remember here is that we got a lot of elderly people in this country who are told stay home, don't leave your house. Who's going to get food to them? How do we get food to them? You got schools all over this country now being shut down. OK? How are we going to make sure that the kids do well in this crisis, not become traumatized? What do we do about the parents now who have to stay home with kids and can't go to work? So I think what -- bottom line here is that, in this crisis, we have got to start paying attention to the most vulnerable. That includes people who are in prison right now, people who are in homeless shelters right now. What about the half-a-million people who are homeless tonight? Who's going to respond to them? Now, in 2008, when we had the Wall Street bailout, they did very well for the people on top. They bailed out the crooks on Wall Street. They forgot about the suffering of ordinary Americans. This time around, let us learn that lesson. Let us pay attention to the working families of this country and to the most vulnerable.
- The Ebola crisis, in my view, exposes the dysfunctionality of the health care system and how poorly prepared we are despite how much money that we spend. And the Ebola crisis is also, I think, exposing the cruelty and the unjustness of our economy today. We have more income and wealth inequality in America today than any time in 100 years. And what that means that in the midst of this crisis, you know, if you're a multimillionaire, no one is happy about this crisis, you're going to get through it. You're going to get everything you need. You're not worried about health care. You're not worried about income coming in. Half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck. We've got people who are struggling working two or three jobs to put food on the table. What is going to happen to them? So the lesson to be learned is we have got to move aggressively right now to address the economic crisis as a result of Ebola -- as a result -- keep talking about Ebola, you've got Ebola in my head here right now. As a result of the virus here, the coronavirus, what we have got to do also is understand the fragility of the economy and how unjust and unfair it is that so few have so much and so many have so little.
- CALDERON: Many believe those spending bills were a crucial part of stabilizing the economy back then. Would you support bailouts for industries that are being crushed by the coronavirus outbreak now?
- SANDERS: I did, you're quite right. I voted against the bailout because I believed that the illegal behavior being done by the people on Wall Street should not be rewarded by a bailout. And today, by the way, those banks are more prosperous and own more assets, by and large, than they did back then. They are bigger now than they were then. I thought at the time that in the midst of massive income and wealth inequality the people on top, through a surtax on the very wealthy, should bail out. And it's not just the TARP bailout. We gave trillions of dollars in zero interest loans to large banks. But to answer your question where we are right now, we need to stabilize the economy, but we can't repeat what we did in 2008. Joe voted for that. I voted against it. Because we have got to do more than save the banks or the oil companies. Our job right now is to tell every working person in this country, no matter what your income is, you are not going to suffer as a result of this crisis of which you had no control.
- CALDERON: Vice President Biden?
- BIDEN: Had those banks all gone under, all those people Bernie says he cares about would be in deep trouble. Deep, deep trouble. All those little folks, we would have gone out of business. They would find themselves in position where they would lose everything they had in that bank, whether it was $10 or $300 or a savings account. This was about saving an economy. And it did save the economy. And the banks paid back. And they paid back with interest. I agree with Bernie. Someone should have gone to jail. That was the big disagreement I had in terms of bailing out. But the question was, they paid back. In addition to that, it also -- part of that was bailing out the automobile industry. Saving thousands of jobs. Tens of thousands of jobs over time. He voted against that as well.
- SANDERS: No. I did not vote against that. That bailout money was used later on by Bush to protect the automobile industry. But here's the point. One minute, one minute. Here's the point here, is that in terms of that bailout, there are ways that you can bail out. When you have a handful of people who have incredible wealth who have prospered off of the illegal behavior of individuals, in this case on Wall Street, you know what you say to them? And I did. I said this to the secretary of treasury. You want a bailout? That's fine. Have your friends pay for it, not working people. The other point is, Joe should know, it wasn't just the $700 billion TARP program. The Fed gave trillions and trillions of dollars in zero interest loans to every financial institution in this country and central banks all over the world. That was essentially a grant. Because they then could sell that -- they could then bring in interest rates much greater than the zero interest loans that they got.
- I have been criticized because the proposal for Medicare for All that I introduced includes making sure that undocumented people are also covered. And right now, we have the absurd situation where undocumented people who try to do the right thing -- they're sick; they want to go to the doctor; they don't want to spread this disease -- are now standing and thinking about when ICE is going to deport them. So one of the things that we have to do is to make sure that everybody feels comfortable getting the health care that they need. That should be a general principle, above and beyond the coronavirus. Second of all, we've got to end these terrible ICE raids, which are terrorizing communities all over this country. And thirdly, to answer your question, the time is long overdue for this country to move to comprehensive immigration reform and a path towards citizenship for those 11 million undocumented. And furthermore, on day one as president, I would restore the legal status of the 1.8 million young people of DACA.
- Let's do something that the media doesn't do. Let's talk about the reality of American life. Why is it that, over the last 45 years, despite the huge increase in productivity and technology, the average worker today is not making a nickel more in real dollars? Why is it that, over the last 30 years, the richest 1 percent have seen a $21 trillion increase in their wealth; the bottom half of America, a $900 billion decline in their wealth? Why is that we are the only major country on Earth not to guarantee health care to all people as a human right? Why are we the only major country not to have paid medical and family leave? Why do we give tax breaks to billionaires when half a million people are homeless today? And it comes down to something, Jake, we don't talk about, the power structure in America. Who has the power? And I'll tell you who has the power. It's the people who contribute money, the billionaires who contribute money to political campaigns, who control the legislative agenda. Those people have the power. And if you want to make real changes in this country; if you want to create an economy that works for all, not just the few; if you want to guarantee quality health care to all, not make $100 billion in profit for the health care industry, you know what you need? You need to take on Wall Street; you need to take on the drug companies and the insurance companies and the fossil fuel industry. You don't take campaign contributions from them. You take them on and create an economy that works for all.
- It was -- you know, gay marriage today is considered a Little bit differently than it was 25 years ago. I remember that vote. It was a very hard vote. I voted against the Defense of Marriage Act. You voted for it. I voted against the bankruptcy bill. You voted for it. I voted against the war in Iraq, which was also a tough vote. You voted for it. I voted against disastrous trade agreements like NAFTA and PNTR with China, which cost this country over 4 million good-paying jobs. You voted for it. I voted against the Hyde amendment, which denies low- income women the right to get an abortion. You have consistently voted for it. I don't know what your position is on it today, but you have consistently voted for it. In other words, all that I'm saying here, we can argue about the merits of the bill.
- Let me respond and I'll answer your question, respond to what Joe's comments about the 2007 immigration bill. That bill was opposed by LULAC, the largest Latino organization in America. The Southern Poverty Law Center called its guest worker programs akin to slavery. There wasn't really a vote on the bill. It was killed because there was a vote on the Doggett Amendment, I think it was 49-48, and you know who voted with me on that one, Joe? Barack Obama. He understood that that proposal was a bad idea. We don't need slavery in America where workers -- guest workers are forced to stay with their employers. But in terms of immigration in general, let me outline some of the things that we do. Day one, we restore the legal status of 1.8 million young people and their parents in the DACA program. Number two, immediately, we end these ICE raids which are terrorizing communities all over this country. Three, we change the border policy. Under my administration, no federal agent will ever grab little babies from the arms of their mothers. And, fourth, I think we can pass what the American people want and that is comprehensive immigration reform, a path towards citizenship for the 11 million undocumented.
- Because we have to invest in an unprecedented way -- in an unprecedented way. You started off by saying that we're talking about a $13 trillion, $14 trillion investment. That is a lot of money. And I've been criticized for that. But I don't know what the alternative is, if we are playing for the future of this planet. So we've got to be dramatic. And what being dramatic is, massive investments in wind, in solar, under the -- in sustainable energies in general, in research and development, in making our buildings all over this country. My state of Vermont and around this country have got a lot of old buildings. We can put millions and millions of people to work making our buildings energy-efficient, moving our transportation system to electricity. So what we're talking about is a massive unprecedented investment. That is what the Green New Deal is about. I supported it. And I will fight to implement it.
- BASH: Senator Sanders, Senator Sanders, let me just follow up with you about an issue that you're having. For the second consecutive presidential election, you're struggling to gain wide support from African-Americans. Why is your message not resonating with African- American voters?
- SANDERS: Here is what I believe is happening. And this is an important point and why I decided to run for president. I think it's imperative that we defeat Trump. I think our campaign, of a biracial, bi-generational, multigenerational, grassroots movement is the way to do it. Now, we have won some states. Joe has won more states than I have. But here's what we are winning. We are winning the ideological struggle. Even states in Mississippi, where Joe won a major victory, it turns out that a pretty good majority of the folks there believe in Medicare for all. And that's true in almost every state in this country. And the other issue that we don't talk enough about is we are winning the generational struggle. Depending on the state, we're winning people 50 years of age or younger. Big time, people 30 years of age and younger. I, frankly, have my doubts. Look, I -- if I lose this thing, Joe wins, Joe, I will be there for you. But I have my doubts about how you win a general election against Trump -- who will be a very, very tough opponent -- unless you have energy, excitement, the largest voter turnout in history. And to do that, you are going to have to bring young people, who are not great voters. They don't vote in the kinds of numbers they should -- into the political process. You're going to have to bring Latinos, who are great people, who have the agenda that we need, but also don't vote in the numbers that we need. I have my doubts that Vice President Biden's campaign can generate that energy and excitement and that voter turnout.
- Well, our hearts go out to everyone. We need to move aggressively to make sure that every person in this country who has the virus, who thinks they have the virus, understands they get all the health care that they need, because they are Americans, that we move aggressively to make sure that the test kits are out there, that the ventilators are out there, that the ICU units are out there, that the medical personnel are out there. But, Jake, if I might also say, that in this moment of economic uncertainty, in addition to the coronavirus, it is time to ask how we get to where we are, not only our lack of preparation for the virus, but how we end up with an economy where so many of our people are hurting at a time of massive income and wealth inequality. It is time to ask this -- the question of where the power is in America. Who owns the media? Who owns the economy? Who owns the legislative process? Why do we give tax breaks to billionaires and not raise the minimum wage? Why do we pump up the oil industry while a half-a- million people are homeless in America? This is a time to move aggressively, dealing with the coronavirus crisis, to deal with the economic fallout. But it's also a time to rethink America and create a country where we care about each other rather than a nation of greed and corruption, which is what is taking place among the corporate elite.
We cannot rely on Trump. Congress must lead the way in this unprecedented crisis
- The Guardian op-ed (8 April 2020)
- In this unprecedented moment in American history, we need an unprecedented legislative response. President Trump is incapable of providing leadership, and instead continues to mislead the public and act out of political self-interest. So it is Congress that must lead, and it must do so now. With anxiety growing, everyone in our country needs to know that, in the midst of this horrific pandemic and economic meltdown, their government is doing everything possible to keep them healthy and financially secure. In other words, we need to build upon and expand the recent stimulus package with new and bolder emergency legislation which must be passed as soon as possible.
- First, Congress must explicitly authorize that the Defense Production Act is fully utilized to demand that the private sector start delivering the equipment and products that our medical personnel desperately need in order to treat their patients. We cannot rely on Trump to do it. Recent reporting has revealed that the Trump administration did not start ordering crucial equipment like masks until March. It is beyond comprehension that, in the wealthiest nation on Earth, doctors and nurses throughout the country are putting their lives on the line because they lack an adequate supply of surgical masks, gloves and gowns. We must also produce the ventilators as well as the various kinds of testing kits that we need now and will need in the future, as well as the dwindling supply of certain prescription drugs that are essential to treat the virus. States and hospitals should not have to compete against each other. The federal government must take the lead in coordinating efforts. Further, during this crisis, every American must be able to receive all of the healthcare they need regardless of income. Before the pandemic, 87 million people were uninsured or underinsured. That number is rapidly escalating as millions of workers are not only losing their jobs but are also losing their employer-based health insurance.
- The cost of hospital treatment for the coronavirus amounts to tens of thousands of dollars. Tragically, we have already seen people who have delayed treatment due to concerns about cost. In this pandemic, lack of insurance will lead to more deaths and more Covid-19 transmissions. As long as this pandemic continues, Medicare must be empowered to pay all of the deductibles, co-payments and out-of-pocket healthcare expenses for the uninsured and the underinsured. No one in America who is sick, regardless of immigration status, should be afraid to seek the medical treatment they need during this national crisis. Obviously, Congress must not only address the pandemic crisis, it must also act with a fierce sense of urgency to effectively deal with the economic crisis as well. In the last two weeks, a record-breaking 10 million people filed unemployment claims – more than during the entire 2008 Great Recession. Frighteningly, the St Louis Federal Reserve projects that 47 million more people may become unemployed by the end of June, with unemployment reaching 32%. While such estimates may be a worst-case scenario, the reality of the pandemic has taught us that worst-case scenarios are what we must plan for. For the sake of working families all over this country, we must be prepared for all contingencies. We cannot wait before taking the bold action that is necessary. In my view, it makes a lot more sense to prevent the collapse of our economy than figuring out how we put it back together after it crumbles. Simply stated, that means that every worker must keep receiving his or her paycheck and benefits during the crisis. In the recent emergency relief bill, Congress appropriated over $25bn in grants to the airline companies so that 2 million workers in that industry will continue to receive their full paycheck and benefits through 30 September. And that is exactly what we must do for every worker in America. This is not a radical idea. It is similar to what France, Norway, Denmark, the UK and other countries are doing.
- Further, as quickly as possible, we must get money into the hands of people by immediately providing a $2,000 monthly emergency payment to every person in the country until the crisis has passed. In addition, we must guarantee paid medical and sick leave to all workers. It has been estimated that only 12% of workers in businesses that are likely to stay open during this crisis are receiving paid sick leave benefits as a result of the second coronavirus relief package. We have got to increase this figure to 100%. Moreover, workers who are on the frontlines of this crisis including those who work in grocery stores, warehouses, paramedics, nurses, pharmacies, domestic workers, postal workers, farm workers, public transit, truck drivers and janitors must receive $500 a week hazard pay, childcare and a safe and secure workplace.
- Finally, we must put an immediate moratorium on evictions, foreclosures and utility shut-offs, and suspend payments on rent and mortgage loans for primary residences during this crisis. This is a frightening and devastating time for our country, and the world. Never before in our lifetimes have we had to deal with both a public health pandemic and an economic meltdown. The American people deserve and require leadership from Washington that acts aggressively, puts working people first, and provides peace-of-mind to the most vulnerable people in our country. Now more than any point in recent history, we are in this together. We must act with love, compassion and urgency. Historians will look back at this time to see how we dealt with this unprecedented crisis. I hope they will observe that we responded with the courage and boldness that the moment required.
- I have been involved very much in the partisan plan, which is something that I think the American people desperately want.
And the truth of the matter is, there are a lot of people in our country, working-class people, who are losing faith in the ability of government to address their needs. And what we are doing is just that.
We are going to take on income and wealth inequality. We're going to ask the wealthiest people and the largest corporations to start paying their fair share of taxes. We're going to take on the pharmaceutical industry and have Medicare negotiate prices. We're going to finally deal with child care and pre-K.
Can you imagine in this country where you have free pre-K for every working family in America? We're going to have — end the disgrace of the United States being the only major country on Earth not to have paid family and medical leave. We're going to expand Medicare to cover dental, hearing aids and eyeglasses. We are going to got home health care... We're going to have — end the disgrace of the United States being the only major country on Earth not to have paid family and medical leave. We're going to expand Medicare to cover dental, hearing aids and eyeglasses. We are going to get home health care.
So what we are talking, in my view, is about the most consequential piece of legislation for working families in the modern history of America.
- Let Mr. Barrasso go to the folks in Wyoming and ask them whether they think it's a good idea that they should be paying a third of their income in child care. Ask elderly people who don't have any teeth in their mouth whether they should be able to get dentures through Medicare. Ask the scientific community whether the time is now in a big way to deal with climate. Ask the ordinary American consumer whether we should take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry, which charges us the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.
- Day after day, here on the floor of the Senate and back in their states, many of my colleagues talk to the American people about how deeply concerned they are about the deficit and the national debt. They tell us that we just don't have enough money to expand Medicare... We just don't have enough money to do what every other major country on Earth does, and that is guarantee paid family and medical leave.
At a time when the scientists are telling us that we face an existential threat in terms of climate change, we are told that just don't have enough money to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel and create a planet that will be healthy and habitable for our kids and future generations. Just don't have enough money. Yet today, the U.S. Senate will begin consideration of an annual defense budget that costs $778 billion—$778 billion for one year... And by the way, all of this money is going to an agency, the Department of Defense, that continues to have massive cost overruns, year after year, wasting enormous amounts of money... Concerns about the deficit seem to melt away under the influence of the military-industrial complex.
- Quoted in Sanders Says Deficit Concerns 'Seem to Melt Away' When It's Time to Fill Pentagon Coffers, Jake Johnson, Common Dreams, (18 November 2021)
This is the agenda Democrats should pursue under Biden’s leadership
- The headlines dominating the news understandably deal with the outrageous behavior of President Donald Trump and the attempted coup he inspired at our nation’s Capitol. Yes, it was important for the House of Representatives to impeach Trump. Yes, the Senate must convict him. No president, now or in the future, can lead an insurrection against the United States government and get away with it. But as enormously important as that is, we must not lose sight of the pain and anxiety of millions of working families all over this country, as they suffer through the worst public health and economic crises in the modern history of our country. In fact, many working families are facing more economic desperation today than any time since the Great Depression. As a result of the pandemic, tens of millions of our fellow citizens have lost their jobs and incomes. Hunger is at its highest level in decades, and 40 million could be on the brink of eviction when the federal moratorium expires at the end of January. While more than 24 million people in our country have tested positive for the Covid-19 virus, tens of millions of Americans are uninsured or under-insured.
- Amid so much economic suffering and despair, when many Americans have lost faith in their government – and when millions are prepared to accept lies about the outcome of the 2020 presidential election – it is imperative that Democrats pass a bold and aggressive economic agenda within the first 100 days of Joe Biden’s presidency. Now is not the time to think small. It is the time to think big and to restore faith among working families – Black, White, Latino, Asian American and Native American – that in a democratic society, government can respond to their needs. Failure to adequately respond to the economic desperation in America today will undermine the Biden administration and likely lead Democrats to lose their thin majorities in the US House of Representatives and US Senate in 2022. Democrats suffered significant loses in 1994, two years after President Bill Clinton’s victory – and, in 2010, two years after President Barack Obama’s victory. We must not repeat those mistakes. The danger we face would not be in going too big or spending too much but in going too small and leaving the needs of the American people behind. If Republicans would like to work with us, we should welcome them. But their support is not necessary. In 2010, Sen. Mitch McConnell was willing to sabotage the economy to advantage Republicans, doing everything he could to make Obama a "one-term president." We cannot let him play the same games again.
- The Senate’s 60-vote threshold to pass major legislation has become an excuse for inaction. But let’s be clear: We have the tools to overcome these procedural hurdles. As incoming Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, I will use a process known as budget reconciliation that will allow us to pass comprehensive legislation with only 51 votes. This is not a radical idea. When the Republicans controlled the Senate during the George W. Bush and Trump presidencies, they used reconciliation to pass trillions of dollars in tax breaks for the wealthiest people and most profitable corporations. They also used reconciliation to try and repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2017. Today, Democrats must use this same process to lift Americans out of poverty, increase wages and create good-paying jobs.
- First, we must increase the direct payments passed by Congress in December from $600 to $2,000 for every working-class adult and their children. On this issue, Joe Biden, Donald Trump, incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, several Republicans in the House and the Senate and undoubtedly millions of struggling Americans – who wanted more stimulus in December –would agree. But given the enormous crises facing the country, that is not enough. Through reconciliation, we must pass a major Covid-relief package that expands emergency unemployment benefits to $600 a week, provides aid to state and local governments to prevent mass layoffs, enacts hazard pay for frontline workers, saves the US Postal Service, addresses the crisis of homelessness and ensures that no one in America goes hungry or is evicted. During the crisis, we must provide emergency health care to all by requiring Medicare to pay the medical bills of the uninsured and under-insured. We must fully fund Covid-19 testing, tracing and vaccine distribution. At a time when our primary care health care system is faltering, and when millions have no medical home, we must also substantially increase funding for community health centers and the National Health Service Corps, which provides scholarships and forgive student debt of medical professionals who agree to work in underserved areas.
- Through reconciliation, we must make sure that unemployment benefits during this crisis period are not taxable so that workers don’t get hit with a huge tax bill they didn’t expect on April 15. Moreover, we need to create millions of good paying jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure – our roads, bridges, sidewalks, schools, water systems and affordable housing. Further, as we lead the world in combating the existential threat of climate change, we can create millions more jobs by making massive investments in wind, solar, geothermal, electric vehicles, weatherization and energy storage. We must guarantee at least 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave and end the international embarrassment of the United States as the only high-income nation that fails to provide paid maternity leave. In order to address our dysfunctional early childhood education system, we must provide universal pre-K for every 3- and 4-year-old in the country and greatly expand childcare. And, if we are to have the best-educated workforce in the world, we need to make public colleges and universities tuition free and cancel all student debt for working-class Americans.
- As we do all these things, we can use the reconciliation process to substantially lower the outrageous cost of prescription drugs and raise the minimum wage to $15. Not only would these provisions improve life for millions, they would save the federal government hundreds of billions. In this extraordinarily difficult moment, poll after poll has shown that the American people want government to respond aggressively to address the crises they face. The job of Congress now is to listen to the American people, move our country boldly forward on a path to economic success and show voters that Democrats are prepared to do everything possible to improve their lives. This is an unprecedented moment in American history. We must act in an unprecedented way.
What happens next in Congress will determine future of country
- What happens in Congress in the next few months will determine the future of our country – and our planet. In this pivotal moment in American history, Democrats in the US House of Representatives and US Senate, working with the White House, have proposed several pieces of legislation which can strengthen working families, protect the planet and save American democracy from right-wing extremism. We can create millions of good paying union jobs rebuilding our crumbling roads, bridges, water systems and constructing the millions of units of affordable housing we desperately need. We can also end starvation wages in America by raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. At a time when real wages for American workers have been stagnant for decades, these actions will be a major step forward in improving the standard of living of a declining middle class.
- Further, we can create millions more jobs by taking the global leadership in combating climate change – the existential threat to our planet – and transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels. By extending the child tax credit, we can cut childhood poverty nearly in half and end the international embarrassment of the US having one of the highest rates of childhood poverty in the industrialized world. By having the federal government negotiate drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry, we can not only lower the outrageous cost of prescription drugs but we can raise the necessary funds to expand Medicare to finally cover dental, vision and hearing needs and improve the lives of millions of struggling seniors. We can also provide good quality health coverage to millions of older workers by lowering the eligibility age of Medicare to 55. By passing universal child care and Pre-K legislation, we can make sure that every child in America, regardless of income or zip code, gets a good start in life. We can also strengthen the economy by enabling parents to go to their jobs knowing that their young children are safe and well taken care of. By passing paid family and medical leave, we can join every other wealthy country in making certain that workers can stay home with their sick kids or spend precious time with a new born baby. By making public colleges and universities tuition free, and substantially lowering student debt, we can create the best educated workforce in the world and provide support to a younger generation which, otherwise, will likely have a lower standard of living than their parents. By passing progressive tax legislation that finally asks the wealthy and large corporations to begin paying their fair share of taxes, we can begin to address the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality and raise trillions of dollars to address the needs of working families. By passing universal voting rights, ending outrageous levels of gerrymandering and moving forward on campaign finance reform, we can end voter suppression, increase voter turnout and strengthen our democracy. By passing new criminal justice reform, we can reduce the rate of incarceration and make certain that all of our citizens, regardless of the color of their skin, can safely walk the streets of this country without fear of abusive, illegal or lethal police action. By passing comprehensive immigration reform we can, after years of inaction, finally give Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival recipients and temporary protected status holders the stability they deserve, and create a path toward citizenship for 11 million undocumented people, many of whom are doing the critical work that keeps our economy going. Relying on the same budget process we used to pass the American Rescue Plan in March, we can improve the lives of working families with just 50 votes in the Senate and a simple majority in the House of Representatives. In other words, if the Democrats in the House and Senate are able to stand together, have the courage to take on powerful special interests and do what so many working families of this country want us to do, we can create an economy that works for all and not just the few, we can help save the planet from the ravages of climate change and we can strengthen American democracy. These are no small accomplishments. They are transformational.
- But what happens if Democrats go forward in a different direction? What happens if they spend week after week, month after month “negotiating” with Republicans who have little intention of addressing the serious crises facing the working families of this country? What happens if, after the passage of the vitally important American Rescue Plan – the Covid-19 rescue package signed into law by President Biden in March –the momentum stops and we accomplish little or nothing? Without strong and ongoing accomplishments that improve the lives of working families, there is a strong possibility that Republicans will win the House or the Senate or both bodies next year. The American people want action, not never-ending “negotiations” and obstructionism, and they will not come out and vote for a party that does not deliver. And if the Republicans do regain control of Congress, we can be sure that the economy will move steadily forward toward a system in which the rich get richer thanks to increased corporate domination. We can be sure that the climate crisis will intensify, diminishing the likelihood of our children and grandchildren living in a healthy and habitable environment. We can be sure that our government will drift away from democracy, as voter suppression, dark money and conspiracy theories continue to dominate our political system.
- This is an unprecedented moment in American history. The Democrats in Congress must move forward boldly, protecting the working families of our country and restoring faith in government. Yes, the future of the country is at stake. And that is why I’m prepared to do everything in my power as Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee to enact a reconciliation bill that reflects the main tenets of President Joe Biden’s transformational agenda, an agenda that millions of Americans want and need in these difficult times. If not now, when?
Washington’s Dangerous New Consensus on China
- Foreign Affairs op-ed (17 July 2021)
- The unprecedented global challenges that the United States faces today—climate change, pandemics, nuclear proliferation, massive economic inequality, terrorism, corruption, authoritarianism—are shared global challenges. They cannot be solved by any one country acting alone. They require increased international cooperation—including with China, the most populous country on earth. It is distressing and dangerous, therefore, that a fast-growing consensus is emerging in Washington that views the U.S.-Chinese relationship as a zero-sum economic and military struggle. The prevalence of this view will create a political environment in which the cooperation that the world desperately needs will be increasingly difficult to achieve.
- It is quite remarkable how quickly conventional wisdom on this issue has changed. Just over two decades ago, in September 2000, corporate America and the leadership of both political parties strongly supported granting China “permanent normal trade relations” status, or PNTR. At that time, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the corporate media, and virtually every establishment foreign policy pundit in Washington insisted that PNTR was necessary to keep U.S. companies competitive by giving them access to China’s growing market, and that the liberalization of China’s economy would be accompanied by the liberalization of China’s government with regard to democracy and human rights. This position was seen as obviously and unassailably correct. Granting PNTR, the economist Nicholas Lardy of the centrist Brookings Institution argued in the spring of 2000, would "provide an important boost to China’s leadership, that is taking significant economic and political risks in order to meet the demands of the international community for substantial additional economic reforms." The denial of PNTR, on the other hand, "would mean that U.S. companies would not benefit from the most important commitments China has made to become a member" of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Writing around the same time, the political scientist Norman Ornstein of the conservative American Enterprise Institute put it more bluntly. “American trade with China is a good thing, for America and for the expansion of freedom in China,” he asserted.:“That seems, or should seem, obvious." Well, it wasn’t obvious to me, which is why I helped lead the opposition to that disastrous trade agreement. What I knew then, and what many working people knew, was that allowing American companies to move to China and hire workers there at starvation wages would spur a race to the bottom, resulting in the loss of good-paying union jobs in the United States and lower wages for American workers. And that’s exactly what happened. In the roughly two decades that followed, around two million American jobs were lost, more than 40,000 factories shut down, and American workers experienced wage stagnation—even while corporations made billions and executives were richly rewarded. In 2016, Donald Trump won the presidential election in part by campaigning against U.S. trade policies, tapping into the real economic struggles of many voters with his phony and divisive populism.
- Meanwhile, needless to say, freedom, democracy, and human rights in China have not expanded. They have been severely curtailed as China has moved in a more authoritarian direction, and China has become increasingly aggressive on the global stage. The pendulum of conventional wisdom in Washington has now swung from being far too optimistic about the opportunities presented by unfettered trade with China to being far too hawkish about the threats posed by the richer, stronger, more authoritarian China that has been one result of that increased trade. In February 2020, the Brookings analyst Bruce Jones wrote that “China’s rise—to the position of the world’s second-largest economy, its largest energy consumer, and its number two defense spender—has unsettled global affairs” and that mobilizing “to confront the new realities of great power rivalry is the challenge for American statecraft in the period ahead.” A few months ago, my conservative colleague Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, compared the threat from China to the one posed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War: “Once again, America confronts a powerful totalitarian adversary that seeks to dominate Eurasia and remake the world order,” he argued. And just as Washington reorganized the U.S. national security architecture after World War II to prepare for conflict with Moscow, Cotton wrote, "today, America’s long-term economic, industrial, and technological efforts need to be updated to reflect the growing threat posed by Communist China." And just last month, Kurt Campbell, the U.S. National Security Council’s top Asia policy official, said that “the period that was broadly described as engagement [with China] has come to an end” and that going forward, “the dominant paradigm is going to be competition."
- Twenty years ago, the American economic and political establishment was wrong about China. Today, the consensus view has changed, but it is once again wrong. Now, instead of extolling the virtues of free trade and openness toward China, the establishment beats the drums for a new Cold War, casting China as an existential threat to the United States. We are already hearing politicians and representatives of the military-industrial complex using this as the latest pretext for larger and larger defense budgets. I believe it is important to challenge this new consensus—just as it was important to challenge the old one. The Chinese government is surely guilty of many policies and practices that I oppose and that all Americans should oppose: the theft of technology, the suppression of workers’ rights and the press, the repression taking place in Tibet and Hong Kong, Beijing’s threatening behavior toward Taiwan, and the Chinese government’s atrocious policies toward the Uyghur people. The United States should also be concerned about China’s aggressive global ambitions. The United States should continue to press these issues in bilateral talks with the Chinese government and in multilateral institutions such as the UN Human Rights Council. That approach would be far more credible and effective if the United States upholds a consistent position on human rights toward its own allies and partners.
- Organizing our foreign policy around a zero-sum global confrontation with China, however, will fail to produce better Chinese behavior and be politically dangerous and strategically counterproductive. The rush to confront China has a very recent precedent: the global “war on terror.” In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the American political establishment quickly concluded that antiterrorism had to become the overriding focus of U.S. foreign policy. Almost two decades and $6 trillion later, it’s become clear that national unity was exploited to launch a series of endless wars that proved enormously costly in human, economic, and strategic terms and that gave rise to xenophobia and bigotry in U.S. politics—the brunt of it borne by American Muslim and Arab communities. It is no surprise that today, in a climate of relentless fearmongering about China, the country is experiencing an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes. Right now, the United States is more divided than it has been in recent history. But the experience of the last two decades should have shown us that Americans must resist the temptation to try to forge national unity through hostility and fear.
- The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has rightly recognized the rise of authoritarianism as a major threat to democracy. The primary conflict between democracy and authoritarianism, however, is taking place not between countries but within them—including in the United States. And if democracy is going to win out, it will do so not on a traditional battlefield but by demonstrating that democracy can actually deliver a better quality of life for people than authoritarianism can. That is why we must revitalize American democracy, restoring people’s faith in government by addressing the long-neglected needs of working families. We must create millions of good-paying jobs rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and combating climate change. We must address the crises we face in health care, housing, education, criminal justice, immigration, and so many other areas. We must do this not only because it will make us more competitive with China or any other country but because it will better serve the needs of the American people. Although the primary concern of the U.S. government is the security and prosperity of the American people, we should also recognize that in our deeply interconnected world, our security and prosperity are connected to people everywhere. To that end, it is in our interest to work with other wealthy nations to raise living standards around the world and diminish the grotesque economic inequality that authoritarian forces everywhere exploit to build their own political power and undermine democracy.
- The Biden administration has pushed for a global minimum corporate tax. This is a good step toward ending the race to the bottom. But we must think even bigger: a global minimum wage, which would strengthen the rights of workers around the world, providing millions more with the chance for a decent, dignified life and diminishing the ability of multinational corporations to exploit the world’s neediest populations. To help poor countries raise their living standards as they integrate into the global economy, the United States and other rich countries should significantly increase their investments in sustainable development. For the American people to thrive, others around the world need to believe that the United States is their ally and that their successes are our successes. Biden is doing exactly the right thing by providing $4 billion in support for the global vaccine initiative known as COVAX, by sharing 500 million vaccine doses with the world, and by backing a WTO intellectual property waiver that would enable poorer countries to produce vaccines themselves. China deserves acknowledgment for the steps it has taken to provide vaccines, but the United States can do even more. When people around the world see the American flag, it should be attached to packages of lifesaving aid, not drones and bombs. Creating true security and prosperity for working people in the United States and China alike demands building a more equitable global system that prioritizes human needs over corporate greed and militarism. In the United States, handing billions more in taxpayer dollars to corporations and the Pentagon while inflaming bigotry will not serve these goals.
- Americans must not be naive about China’s repression, disregard for human rights, and global ambitions. I strongly believe that the American people have an interest in strengthening global norms that respect the rights and dignity of all people—in the United States, in China, and around the world. I fear, however, that the growing bipartisan push for a confrontation with China will set back those goals and risks empowering authoritarian, ultranationalistic forces in both countries. It will also deflect attention from the shared common interests the two countries have in combating truly existential threats such as climate change, pandemics, and the destruction that a nuclear war would bring. Developing a mutually beneficial relationship with China will not be easy. But we can do better than a new Cold War.
Biden's $3.5T plan to help working families depends on Democratic unity
- At a time when working families continue to struggle, poll after poll shows that the vast majority of the American people support the provisions in President Joe Biden's $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act. Some 88 percent believe we should lower the cost of prescription drugs, 84 percent believe we should expand Medicare to include dental care, hearing aids and eye glasses, 73 percent support establishing Paid Family and Medical Leave, and 67 percent want universal Pre-K. Further, 67 percent believe the federal government should raise taxes on high-income people and corporations to help pay for these desperately needed programs – which is what this legislation does. So, given this overwhelming support, why is it taking so long for Congress to pass this bill? The answer is simple. Follow the money. As part of our corrupt, big-money dominated political system, the pharmaceutical industry is now spending hundreds of millions of dollars on lobbying, campaign contributions and television ads to defeat this legislation because it does not want Medicare to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices. In order to increase their profits they want American taxpayers to continue paying, by far, the highest prices in the world for our medicine – sometimes ten times more than the people in other countries. Last year alone, while nearly one out of four Americans could not afford to fill the prescriptions their doctors wrote, six of the largest pharmaceutical companies made nearly $50 billion in profits and the ten highest paid executives in the industry made more than $500 million in compensation. In order to preserve their corrupt and greedy pricing system, the drug companies hired nearly 1,500 lobbyists, including former leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties, to protect their interests. That is 3 lobbyists for every member of Congress. Unbelievable!
- But let’s be clear. Opposition to this bill is not just limited to the pharmaceutical industry. At a time when millions of senior citizens and people with disabilities cannot afford the home health care, dental care, hearing aids, and eyeglasses they desperately need, private health insurance companies are strongly opposed to this legislation. They are spending tens of millions of dollars to defeat this bill because they do not want Congress to expand Medicare to provide dental, hearing, and vision benefits and they apparently do not want seniors to receive the quality care they need in their own homes. And it’s not just the health care industry and big drug companies. The fossil fuel industry is launching a major advertising campaign to defeat this legislation because it seems to be more concerned about protecting their short-term profits than addressing the existential threat of climate change. At a time of record-breaking forest fires, drought, rising sea levels and extreme weather disturbances the fossil fuel industry has, since 2000, spent more than $2 billion on lobbying to protect its special interests and prevent the federal government from making cuts in carbon emissions to protect our planet. Further, at a time of massive wealth and income inequality – when the two richest people in this country own more wealth than the bottom 40 percent – the billionaire class is vigorously opposing this legislation because it wants to prevent Congress from making the wealthiest people and most profitable corporations finally start paying their fair share of taxes. The corporate elite seem to love the idea that billionaires have a lower effective tax rate than nurses or teachers and that, in a given year, there are dozens of profitable corporations that don’t pay a nickel in federal income tax.
- Let’s be clear. The $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act will not only expand Medicare, improve home health care for the elderly and disabled, lower prescription drug prices, combat climate change, and demand that the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share of taxes. It will cut child poverty in half by extending the $300 a month direct payments for working class parents that expire in December. It will allow more than a million women to get back into the workforce by making sure that working families pay no more than 7 percent of their incomes on child care and make pre-school free for every 3 and 4 year old in America. It will end the international embarrassment of the United States of America being the only major country on earth not to guarantee paid family and medical leave as a human right. Under this legislation, we will no longer tell working moms that they must go back to work a week or two after giving birth in order to put food on the table and pay the rent. It will address the labor shortage in America by making community colleges tuition free so that young people have the opportunity to acquire the skills they need for the good-paying jobs that are going unfilled today. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs by building the affordable housing we need so that millions of Americans are no longer paying over 50 percent of their limited incomes on housing and so 600,000 Americans are no longer sleeping out on the street or in homeless shelters.
- It is no great surprise that not a single Republican in Congress supports this bill. After all, this is the party that four years ago provided $2 trillion in tax breaks to primarily benefit the wealthy and large corporations, and came within one vote of throwing up to 32 million Americans off their health care. So, in a tied Senate which has 50 members each of the Democratic and Republican caucuses and a House of Representatives which has a mere three-vote-majority for Democrats, the question of whether we finally deliver consequential legislation to improve the lives of working class families comes down to Democratic unity. Will all Democrats stand together to protect the interests of the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor? Will all Democrats stand together to take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry, the health insurance companies, the fossil fuel industry, and wealthy campaign contributors? I certainly hope so.
The time for Senate talk is over. We need to vote
- The Republican Party is working overtime to suppress the vote and undermine American democracy. It is a party which ignores climate change, the existential threat to our planet and represents the interests of the wealthy and the powerful while turning its back on struggling working-class families. The GOP is the party that gives tax breaks to billionaires while pushing for cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other programs desperately needed by ordinary Americans. And yet, despite the outrageous behavior of leading Republicans and their reactionary and unpopular agenda, recent polling suggests that Republicans stand a strong chance to gain control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate and pick up additional seats in state legislatures throughout the country. Why is this happening? Why, despite the horrendous Republican record, are Democrats losing support among Latinos, young people and African Americans? How does it happen that a party that is supposed to stand for working families was rejected by over 75% of White voters without college degrees in the most recent gubernatorial race in Virginia? Democrats cannot ignore these realities and continue traveling down a failed road which will only lead to disaster.
- The good news is that the House and an overwhelming majority of the Senate Democratic Caucus – as many as 48 out of 50 members – are prepared to pass strong and popular legislation that addresses the long-neglected needs of the working class. At a time when the top 1% is doing phenomenally well, we are ready to reform our regressive tax system and demand that the very rich and large corporations pay their fair share of taxes. We want to take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry and substantially lower prescription drug prices, expand Medicare to cover hearing, dental and vision, address the crisis of childhood poverty and a dysfunctional child care system, improve the quality of home health care, build the affordable housing we desperately need and create millions of good jobs by combating the existential threat of climate change. The bad news is that two members of the Senate Democratic Caucus, Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, have withheld their support. For six months, President Biden and many of us have engaged in endless negotiations with these senators. These never-ending conversations, which have gone nowhere, must end. The time for voting must begin.
- To my mind, in a democratic society, constituents have a right to know how their senators vote on some of the most important issues facing the country. If Manchin, Sinema and Senate Republicans want to sink the Build Back Better package and then go on vote against individual bills that do exactly what the American people want: lowering prescription drug costs, demanding the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes, expanding Medicare, improving home healthcare, extending the Child Tax Credit, building affordable housing, addressing the crisis of childhood poverty, making a wildly expensive child care system affordable and combating climate change, they should have that opportunity. And then they can go home and try to explain their votes to their constituents. That’s what democracy is supposed to be about.
- Democrats will not win in 2022 with a demoralized base. There must be energy and excitement. Today, in these difficult times, the American people want to know that their elected officials have the courage to take on the powerful special interests and fight for their needs. And, when we do that, the fundamental differences between the two parties will become crystal clear. That’s how you win elections.
It's time for Medicare for All
- The United States has the most dysfunctional, inefficient, bureaucratic and expensive health care system in the world. That’s not just what I believe. That’s what the American people know to be true. According to a March 2022 survey by Gallup and West Health, an estimated 93 percent of American adults feel what they pay for health care is not worth the cost. That poll also showed that 64 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the availability of affordable health care. Today, according to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), we now spend an unbelievable $12,530 per person for health care. Yes. $12,530 for every man, woman and child in this country. Despite this huge expenditure, 30 million Americans have no insurance at all and 112 million struggle to pay for the health care they need.
- Further, we pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs with nearly 1 out of 4 patients unable to fill the prescriptions their doctors write. Despite spending more than twice as much on healthcare as the average developed country our health outcomes are worse than most. For example, our life expectancy is about 4.5 years lower than Germany’s and we have the highest infant mortality rate of almost any major country on earth. While the current system is not working for ordinary Americans, it is working VERY well for insurance and drug companies and their CEOs. Last year, the six largest health insurance companies in America made over $60 billion in profits, led by the UnitedHealth Group, which made $24 billion in 2021. The CEOs of 178 major health care companies collectively made $3.2 billion in total compensation in 2020 – up 31% from 2019.
- The Medicare for All Act of 2022 which I have just introduced with 15 co-sponsors would provide comprehensive health care coverage to every man, woman and child in our country – without out-of-pocket expenses and with full freedom of choice regarding health care providers. No more insurance premiums, deductibles or co-payments. And comprehensive means the coverage of dental care, vision, hearing aids, prescription drugs and home and community based care. The transition to the Medicare-for-all program would take place over four years. In the first year, benefits to older people would be expanded to include dental care, vision coverage and hearing aids, and the eligibility age for Medicare would be lowered to 55. All children under the age of 18 would also be covered. In the second year, the eligibility age would be lowered to 45 and in the third year to 35. By the fourth year, every man, woman and child in the country would be covered by Medicare for All. Would a Medicare-for-all health care system be expensive? Yes. But, while providing comprehensive health care for all, it would be significantly LESS costly than our current dysfunctional system because it would eliminate an enormous amount of the bureaucracy, profiteering, administrative costs and misplaced priorities inherent in our current for-profit system. Under Medicare for All there would no longer be armies of people billing us, telling us what is covered and what is not covered and hounding us to pay our hospital bills. This not only saves substantial sums of money but will make life a lot easier for the American people who no longer have to fight their way through the nightmare of insurance company bureaucracy. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that Medicare for All would save Americans $650 billion a year.
- Now, trust me. I know the 30-second ads coming from the insurance and drug companies will tell you that if Medicare for All becomes law, your taxes will go up. And they are correct. But what they won’t tell you is that under Medicare for All, you will no longer be paying premiums, deductibles and co-payments to private health insurance companies. And what they certainly will not tell you is that Medicare for All will save the average family thousands of dollars a year. In fact, a study by RAND found that moving to a Medicare-for-all system in New York would save a family with an income of less than $185,000 about $3,000 a year, on average.
- Now, if Medicare for All was so great, you might ask, why hasn’t it been enacted by now? Why hasn’t the United States joined every major country on earth in guaranteeing health care for all? Well, the answer is pretty simple. Follow the money. Since 1998, in our corrupt political system, the private health care sector has spent more than $10.6 billion on lobbying and over the last 30 years it has spent more than $1.7 billion on campaign contributions to maintain the status quo. And, by the way, they are "bi-partisan." In fact, they own many of the politicians in both the Democratic and Republican parties. Guaranteeing health care as a right is important to the American people not just from a moral and financial perspective; it also happens to be what the majority of the American people want. In 2020, in a Hill/Harris poll 69 percent of the American people supported providing Medicare to every American. Now is the time for Congress to stand with the American people and take on the powerful special interests that dominate health care in the United States. Now is the time to improve and extend Medicare to everyone. Here is the bottom line: If every major country on earth can guarantee health care to all and achieve better health outcomes, while spending substantially less per capita than we do, there is no reason, other than greed, that the United States of America cannot do the same.
Democrats risk a crushing defeat this year. They must change course now
- The Guardian op-ed (16 June 2022)
- At a moment in history when the leadership of the Republican party is undermining democracy, ignoring the climate crisis, trying to overturn Roe v Wade, opposing a minimum wage increase, embracing more tax breaks for the rich and the growth of oligarchy, and stopping us from passing serious gun safety legislation, it would be a disaster for this rightwing extremist party to gain control of the US House and US Senate. Unfortunately, it appears that the current strategy of the Democratic party is allowing that to happen. According to numerous polls, the Republicans stand an excellent chance of winning this coming November. The main reason: while the Democratic party has, over the years, been hemorrhaging support from the white working class, it is now losing support from Latino, Black and Asian workers as well. Further, in terms of the 2022 elections, the enthusiasm level within the Democratic base is extremely low. It is not only working-class support that is fading away but it is also that young people, who helped elect Biden and other Democrats in 2020, are becoming increasingly demoralized and are not likely to vote in large numbers in this coming election.
- During his campaign, Biden promised to be the most progressive president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. And during his first few months in office, with the strong support of Democrats in Congress, he kept that promise. At a time when Covid was wreaking havoc on the health and financial wellbeing of the American people, under President Biden’s leadership we passed the American Rescue Plan, the most consequential piece of legislation in modern history. This $1.9tn bill was effective in providing financial support to tens of millions of American families and businesses, stabilizing the economy and improving our response to Covid. After the passage of this popular legislation in March 2021, President Biden had a 59% favorability rating, the highest of his presidency, and there was widespread support for what Democrats were doing. There was also a strong understanding that we had to go even further. The American Rescue Plan was an emergency bill that addressed the Covid-related problems facing the country. Now, with a new administration in office, the American people wanted us to address the long-neglected structural crises facing the working families of our country. Amid grotesque and widening income and wealth inequality and decades of wage stagnation, the existential threat of the climate crisis, a rigged tax system and crises in healthcare, childcare and housing, the American people wanted Congress to finally stand up and represent their interests, not just the greed of wealthy campaign contributors. And that’s what the Build Back Better Act was about. Poll after poll showed overwhelming support for virtually every provision in that legislation.
- Yes. The American people want the rich to pay their fair share of taxes. They want to lower the outrageous cost of prescription drugs, expand Medicare to cover dental, hearing aids and vision, address the crisis in home and healthcare, make childcare, pre-K and higher education affordable, establish a paid family and medical leave program and build the millions of units of affordable housing we need. Yes. The American people want us to invest heavily in combating global heating by transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels. Unfortunately, despite strong support from the American people, despite the support of the president, despite passage in the House of Representatives, despite the support of 48 members of the Senate, two corporate Democrats – Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema – both of whom received millions of dollars in campaign contributions from billionaires and corporate interests – decided to sabotage that legislation. We needed 50 votes to pass Build Back Better. We had 48. And it has been downhill ever since for the Democrats. After nine months of fruitless “negotiations” with Manchin and Sinema, the time is long overdue to realize that this is a path that leads to nowhere except defeat at the ballot box and the growing perception that the Democrats have turned their backs on working families. We need a new strategy. We need to take on Republicans. We need to fight back.
- In an extremely difficult and unsettling time – inflation, the pandemic, the heating of the planet, gun violence, attacks on abortion rights, the war in Ukraine – the American people want their elected officials to stand up to powerful special interests and fight for them. Well. The Democrats control the White House, the Senate and the House – and yet that is not happening. They are being held accountable for their inaction, and they’re losing. Is the situation hopeless? I don’t think so. But in order to turn the situation around, Democrats need a significant course correction. And, in doing that, they can learn a lesson from the 1948 campaign of Harry Truman. In 1948, nobody believed Truman had a chance to win that election. Strom Thurmond and the segregationists had bolted the party and Henry Wallace, a third-party candidate, was taking progressive votes away from Truman. Truman responded with a simple and straightforward strategy. Unlike today’s Democrats, he took the fight to the Republicans. He didn’t let them hide behind their whining and “do-nothingism.” He exposed them for what they were – tools of special interests. He made them vote on critical issues. And, time and again, they voted against the interests of working families. Truman showed the very clear difference between the parties – and he won.
- In a given year there are billionaires and large, profitable corporations that do not pay a nickel in federal taxes. Let’s see how many Republicans will vote for real tax reform to end these loopholes. Millions of workers continue to earn starvation wages. Let’s see how many Republicans will vote to raise the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour. We pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. Let’s see how many Republicans will vote to have Medicare negotiate prescription drug prices and cut drug prices in half. Many seniors are unable to afford the outrageous cost of dental care, hearing aids or vision care. Let’s see how many Republicans will vote to expand Medicare to cover these basic health care needs. On average, the cost of childcare in this country is an unaffordable $15,000 a year, if parents can find an available slot. Let’s see how Republicans will vote to lower the cost of childcare and make pre-K free. We are the only major country not to guarantee paid family and medical leave. Let’s see how many Republicans will vote to provide at least 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave for the working families of our country. We have the highest level of child poverty of almost any major country. Let’s see how many Republicans will vote to continue the $300 a month child tax credit, which cut child poverty by over 40%. Millions of seniors are struggling to survive on their inadequate Social Security benefits. Yet, the cap on Social Security taxation is $147,000. Let’s see how many Republicans will vote to lift the earnings cap and increase Social Security benefits. The scientists tell us that time is running out to combat climate breakdown. Let’s see how many Republicans will vote to create millions of well-paying jobs transforming our energy system away from fossil fuel. Workers who want to join unions are often unable to do so because of the illegal actions of their employers. Let’s see how many Republicans will vote to give workers a fair chance to unionize. And that’s not all we must do. We cannot allow murderers with AR-15s to continue to massacre children in schools or grocery stores. Let’s see how many Republicans will vote to pass strong and meaningful gun safety legislation. The Democratic party cannot continue to ignore the needs of the working class of our country and expect to retain majority control in the US House and US Senate. It’s time to show which side we’re on. It’s time to start voting.
Democrats shouldn’t focus only on abortion in the midterms. That’s a mistake
- The Guardian op-ed (10 October 2022)
- As someone who has a lifetime 100% pro-choice voting record, and is outraged by the supreme court’s horrific decision to overturn Roe v Wade, there is no question but that Democrats must continue to focus on the right of women to control their own bodies. This is a fight that most Americans want us to wage and, given the Republicans’ extremist position on the issue, makes them genuinely vulnerable. But, as we enter the final weeks of the 2022 midterm elections, I am alarmed to hear the advice that many Democratic candidates are getting from establishment consultants and directors of well-funded Super Pacs that the closing argument of Democrats should focus only on abortion. Cut the 30-second abortion ads and coast to victory. I disagree. In my view, while the abortion issue must remain on the front burner, it would be political malpractice for Democrats to ignore the state of the economy and allow Republican lies and distortions to go unanswered.
- We have more income and wealth inequality than at any time in the modern history of this country, with three people owning more wealth than the bottom half of our nation. Is there one Republican prepared to raise taxes on billionaires, or do they want to make a bad situation worse by extending Trump’s tax breaks for the rich and repealing the estate tax? Today, 60% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and millions work for starvation wages. Is there one Republican in Congress who is prepared to raise the federal minimum wage to at least $15 an hour? The United States pays, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. Is there one Republican prepared to allow Medicare to immediately begin negotiating prescription drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry and cut the cost of medicine by half? We have a dysfunctional healthcare system which, despite being the most expensive in the world, allows 85 million Americans to be uninsured or underinsured. Is there one Republican who believes that healthcare is a human right and supports universal coverage? We remain the only major country on earth not to guarantee time off for moms who have babies or need to take care of sick children. Is there one Republican who supports at least 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave? The list goes on: childcare, housing, home health care, college affordability. On every one of these enormously important issues the Republican party has virtually nothing to say to address the desperate needs of low and moderate income Americans. And what they do propose will most often make a bad situation worse.
- Nevertheless, in poll after poll Republicans are more trusted than Democrats to handle the economy – the issue of most importance to people. I believe that if Democrats do not fight back on economic issues and present a strong pro-worker agenda, they could well be in the minority in both the House and the Senate next year. And it’s not only the long-term structural crises that Democrats must address. It is the outrageous level of corporate greed that we now see every day that is fueling the inflation hurting so many people. While the price of gas has soared over the last year, the five big oil companies made $59bn in profits during the 2nd quarter of this year alone, and are spending $88bn on stock buybacks and dividends to benefit their wealthy shareholders. While global food prices soared by over 33% last year and are expected to go up another 23% this year, billionaires in the global food and agri-business industry became $382bn richer during the pandemic. While we continue to pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, 3 of the largest pharmaceutical companies in America – Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and AbbVie – increased their profits by 90% last year to $54bn. While 46% of Americans either skipped or delayed the healthcare they need because they could not afford it, the six largest health insurance companies in America last year made over $60bn in profits. What do Republicans have to say about corporations that are charging Americans outrageously high prices, while enjoying record breaking profits? They talk a lot about inflation. But what are they going to do about it? Does one of them have the courage to consider a windfall, profits tax? Absolutely not.
- You can’t win elections unless you have the support of the working class of this country. But you’re not going to have that support unless you make it clear that you’re prepared to take on powerful special interests – and fight for the millions of Americans who are struggling economically. Whether it is extending the $300 a month child tax credit that expired in December that slashed the child poverty rate by over 40%, or increasing social security benefits, or expanding Medicare to cover dental, hearing and vision or making childcare affordable, the Democrats must stand with the working class of this country and expose the Republicans for the phonies that they are. None of what I am suggesting here is “radical”. It is, in fact, extremely popular. It is what the American people want. If we close this critical midterm campaign with a clear, unified vision to meet the needs of working families, to take on corporate greed, and protect a woman’s right to choose, we will begin to rebuild the trust between Democrats in Washington and the working families of this country. And we’ll win the election.
Why we need to expand the Democratic majority in Congress
- As corporate profits soar, and as billionaires become even richer, working class Americans are falling further behind. This, sadly, is not a new reality. Tragically, despite huge increases in worker productivity, real inflation adjusted wages for American workers are lower today than they were nearly 50 years ago. During that period there has been a multi-trillion dollar redistribution of wealth that has gone from the middle class to the top 1 percent, and we now have more income and wealth inequality than at any time in American history. Unbelievably, CEOs of major corporations now make almost 400 times what their average workers make. Given the economic pain facing working families, many voters are asking themselves which party will better fight for legislation that will improve life for ordinary Americans. As the longest serving Independent in the history of Congress, someone who caucuses with Senate Democrats, let me give you my best answer. First, let me admit that the Democratic Party is far from perfect. Too many Democratic members of Congress have been unwilling to stand up to the big money interests that dominate Washington and fight for working families. That’s why we need at least 52 Democrats in the Senate. But here is the simple reality: the Republicans in Congress are far worse when it comes to addressing the needs of the working class.
- Right now, despite the reality that 55 percent of seniors are trying to survive on less than $25,000 a year, leading Republicans in the House and Senate are proposing to cut Social Security benefits, raise the retirement age to 70 or reduce cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for seniors by adopting a less generous formula. Most Democrats believe that we must expand Social Security benefits so that everyone in America can retire with dignity. Not a single Republican in Washington agrees.
- The United States pays, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. I believe, and many Democrats believe, that we need to cut the price of prescription drugs in half by requiring Medicare to pay no more than the Veterans Administration does. Not a single Republican in Washington is prepared to stand up to the pharmaceutical industry and substantially lower the cost of prescription drugs. Almost every Republican in Washington voted against capping the price of insulin at no more than $35 a month.
- Today, over 70 percent of the American people support unions. Most Democrats believe that if we are going to expand the middle class we must make it easier for workers to join unions and end the heavy-handed corporate tactics that make it hard for workers to unionize. Not a single Republican in Washington supports legislation to make it easier for workers to join unions.
- At a time when inflation is a worldwide phenomenon (European Union- 10.1 percent, Germany-10 percent, UK-9.7 percent, Canada-7%, etc.), corporations are using the war in Ukraine, the supply chain crisis and the ongoing pandemic to jack up the price of gas, food, and just about everything the American people need. Many Democrats believe that we should enact a windfall profits tax on large, greedy corporations. Not a single Republican in Washington agrees.
- During the pandemic, while the billionaire class saw a $2 trillion increase in their wealth some of the largest corporations and wealthiest people in America did not pay a nickel in federal income taxes. Democrats voted to end that absurdity and begin the process of moving to a fairer tax system. Not one Republican voted to support that effort. In fact, at a time of massive wealth and income inequality, Republicans have proposed trillions of dollars in tax breaks for the most profitable corporations and wealthiest people in America.
- In conclusion, let me say that it is no secret that many Americans are discouraged by what’s going on in Washington and are unhappy with both major parties. I got that. The answer, however, is not to make a bad situation worse by supporting candidates who will cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and give huge tax breaks to the rich. If we have any chance to create an economy that works for all of us, not just the 1 percent, we must expand the Democratic majority in Congress and continue to push them to represent the needs of the working class, not the billionaire class.
Congress must listen to working families and overhaul healthcare, minimum wage and education
- The Guardian op-ed (9 January 2023)
- Today, in terms of health, we have a dysfunctional healthcare system in which we spend the astronomical and unsustainable sum of nearly $13,000 for every man, woman and child, twice as much as most developed countries and almost 20% of our GDP. Yet, despite that huge expenditure, 85 million Americans are uninsured or underinsured and we have worse health outcomes and lower life expectancy than many other nations. While the insurance companies make huge profits, over 500,000 people declare bankruptcy each year from medically related debt, and over 68,000 die because they can’t afford the care they need. Our complicated and fragmented system is so broken that it cannot even produce the number of doctors, nurses, dentists and mental health personnel that we desperately need. As a nation, we must focus on the reality that the function of a rational healthcare system is to provide quality care for all, not simply huge profits for the insurance industry.
- While psychologists tell us that the first four years of life are the most important in terms of human intellectual and emotional growth, it’s hard to deny that our childcare system is in disarray. The cost is unaffordable for many working parents, there are not enough slots available, the quality is spotty and the pay and benefits childcare workers receive is unconscionably low. This is not how we should be treating our children, the future of America. The situation in K-12 education is not much better. For a variety of reasons – lack of respect, low pay, the stress of Covid and the politicization of school boards – thousands of gifted and dedicated teachers are quitting the profession, leaving students unprepared for the challenges they face as they enter the adult world. The future of this country depends upon the quality of education we provide our kids, and there is no reason why we cannot create the best public educational system in the world. In terms of higher education, we face the absurd situation of hundreds of thousands of bright young people who have the desire and ability to get a college education but cannot do so because their families lack the money. How many great doctors, scientists, and teachers are we losing as a result? There are also millions of young people who need training in order to become skilled mechanics, carpenters, welders, and electricians who are not getting the post-high school training they need. Further, 45 million Americans are struggling with student debt – sometimes in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
- In terms of labor and our economy, we must recognize that we live in a period of more income and wealth inequality than at any time in the last hundred years. While the very rich become richer and three people now own more wealth than the bottom half of American society, 60% of American workers live paycheck to paycheck and millions are trying to exist on starvation wages. Meanwhile, we have a pathetic federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour which has not been raised since 2009. As more and more workers try to improve their standard of living by forming unions, they are facing fierce and illegal union busting from such employers as Starbucks, Amazon, McDonalds and other major employers.
- There is a lot of discussion in the media about how “divided” our nation is and, on many issues, that is absolutely true. But what we don’t appreciate is that on some of the most important issues facing our country the American people – Democrats, Republicans, independents – are quite united. The American people know we are being ripped off by the drug companies and they want lower prescription drugs prices. The American people know that our healthcare system is outrageously expensive and they want universal and lower cost health care. The American people know that education is essential to our lives and the future of this country and they want high quality and affordable education from childcare to graduate school. The American people know that no one can survive on a $7.25-an-hour minimum wage, and they want to raise the minimum wage to a living wage. The American people know that workers have a constitutional right to form unions and that corporations that engage in illegal union busting activities must be held accountable.
- At a time when too many Americans are giving up on democracy, now is the time to attempt to restore faith in our government. Now is the time for Congress to have the courage to take on the lobbyists and powerful special interests and show the American people that our government can work for them, and not just the 1%. Let’s do it.
It's OK to Be Angry About Capitalism (2023)
- We were determined to protect progressive incumbents, including the members of the Squad- Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan- who had come under fierce attack from not just Republicans but many establishment Democrats, and much of the media, during their initial terms in office. All four members of the Squad had played outsized roles in shaping congressional debates in 2019 and 2020, giving voice to often neglected ideas, issues, and communities. They represented a breathe of fresh air in Washington, in no small measure because they were not afraid to speak boldly and bluntly. Their new style of politics was successful in energizing young people, not only in their own districts, but from coast to coast. I knew I had a lot in common with these women. Yes. I was at least forty years older than they were. Yes, I was a man and they were women. Yes, I was white and they were people of color. Yet several of us were immigrants or children of immigrants. We all came from working-class families that had struggled economically. And we all had to elbow our way into politics by taking on and defeating establishment candidates with campaigns that relied on grassroots support rather than the money power of the billionaire class.
- Page 53
- Our economic debates should not revolve around questions of resources. They should revolve around questions of intent, and will. If we truly intend to make America great, we will strive to be a nation that has eliminated poverty, homelessness, and diseases of despair, where hard work is rewarded with a living wage, and where those who are too old or too infirm to work are protected by a safety net that guarantees no American will be destitute. That's not all plan vision or some foreign construct. This country should have the best educational system in the world from childcare to graduate school- accessible to all, regardless of income. We should have a top-qualiy healthcare system allowing all people to walk into a doctor's office and get the care they need without worrying about the cost because the system is publicly funded. Instead of spending more money on the military than the next ten nations combined, we should lead the world in diplomacy and international collaboration, especially when it comes to preventing wars and combating climate change.
- Pages 98-99
- Unlike every other major country on earth, all of which have universal health care coverage, most Americans continue to get their health care through their jobs. Within employer-based health care, the nature of your coverage depends upon the status of your job, the generosity of your employer, and whether you are represented by a union. There are literally hundreds of different plans- each with different degrees of coverage and cost. If you change your job, which millions of workers do every year, it is likely that your insurance coverage will change. That could mean a different network and different doctors, hospitals, and out-of-pocket costs. Worse yet, you could end up with no insurance at all. The absurdity of basing health care coverage on one's job became very clear to all during the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic meltdown of 2020. As millions of workers lost their jobs, they also lost their health care coverage. No job, no health care- in the middle of a pandemic, when you need health care the most. That make sense to someone. Not to me.
- Page 132
- As someone who has held hundreds of town meetings throughout the country, I have learned about another ugly and destructive aspect of our current health care system. Many workers stay at the job they have not because they like them, not because they are happy in their work, but because they have to stay in order to maintain decent health care coverage for their families. This reality has a significant impact upon our economy. How many great entrepreneurs, innovative businesspeople, and artists are unable to go out on their own because they will lose the health insurance they need? How many people become embittered, frustrated, and hateful because they are trapped in jobs they want to leave? Americans should not be chained to a job because of health insurance.
- Page 133
- As a presidential candidate and, more recently, as the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, I've supported the struggles of working Americans in tough times and fought to give them a greater say in controlling their destiny. And frankly, I am frustrated by politicians who talk a good line about workers' rights on the campaign trail but then fail to deliver when they acquire power. That's bad policy, and bad politics. Democrats made an enormous and far-reaching mistake in the 1990s when President Bill Clinton aligned with Wall Street to approve so-called free-trade pacts, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Workers felt betrayed, and it cost the party dearly in the disastrous midterm elections of 1994, when control of the House and Senate shifted to right-wing Republicans who cynically exploited the opening Clinton had given them. Workers understood that you couldn't be both pro-Wall Street and pro-worker. For many working-class Americans, Clinton's choice to side with Wall Street was the end of their allegiance to the Democratic Party, a trend which has only grown over the years. Democrats should have learned their lesson. But there is very little evidence that this has happened. Too many of them still do not understand that the policies of a party that is supposed to stand for workers must actually do so when in power.
- Page 155
- A job has to be more than just a job. As a U.S. senator and a candidate for president. I have traveled to workplaces in almost every state in our country. Along the way, I have visited with thousands of workers from all walks of life. What I've learned is that yes, of course, workers want good wages, good benefits, and good working conditions. But I have also learned that working people want more—something that most of them are not getting today. They want dignity. They want respect. They want a voice in the decision-making process. They are human beings and they want to be treated as human beings. Whether someone is working on a farm, or in an automobile factory, hospital, or school, or delivering mail or writing a book, they want to know that what they do is meaningful and appreciated. They want to have a say about the nature of their work and how it is done. No matter what the job may be, people thrive when they have re-warding work. We feel good about ourselves when we know we are making a contribution to our community, and when we have an opportunity to come up with more creative and effective ways to make that contribution. But, far too often in the uber-capitalist system that has developed in the United States, people don't get that sense of satisfaction. They feel, correctly, that they are cogs in the machine-exploited powerless, and disposable. In fact, for major employers like Amazon, Walmart, and the entire fast-food industry, the gross exploitation and discarding of workers is the foundation of their business model. In these corporations the turnover rate is extremely high as desperate workers come in, are worked too hard. earn starvation wages, more on, and are replaced by other powerless low-income workers.
- Page 162
- The decline of unions has cost American workers dearly, especially the young and people of color. No wonder so many Americans are frustrated. They are hurting, but they don't have the tools to fight back. The irony of our moment is that, even though unions are at just about the weakest point in my lifetime, public opinion polls show that they are more popular than at any time in decades. A Gallup survey done in August 2022 found that 71 percent of Americans approved of unions. That was the greatest level of support since 1965, and it was higher than at some points during FDR's presidency. At a time when the middle class continues to shrink, and more than half of our people live paycheck to paycheck, the average American knows that if we're going to rebuild the middle class, we need to rebuild the union movement. It's not just fierce opposition from the corporate world that makes union organizing increasingly difficult. It's the allies that the corporations have in the political world, where both Republicans and Democrats have pursued an anti-worker agenda. Over the past fifteen years, Republican governors and legislators in historically strong union states such as Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana have adopted so-called Right to Work laws. These measures bar unions from collecting dues from workers they represent, making it dramatically harder for workers to collectively bargain for better pay and benefits and safe workplaces. In the South, Right to Work (For Less) laws have been on the books for the better part of seventy-five years. The name is a lie. These laws have nothing to do with giving people a right to work. They are designed to make it more difficult for workers to organize strong unions that can bargain good contracts and have a voice in politics as the local, state, and national levels. In effect, they are laws that hold down wages and weaken protections for workers, and their presence in the statute books in southern states can be traced back to the days when segregationist politicians in both parties feared their integrated unions would advance the cause of both civil rights and economic rights.
- Pages 180-181
- Medicare for All, free college education, and expanded Social Security, along with other universal guarantees, are good ideas in and of themselves, as is explained in other sections of this book. But they are dramatically more necessary in a transition period from an old economy to a new one. The best models for that new economy will include strong unions and well-defined workplace protections. But the definition of the workplace will change radically, making guarantees to workers unpredictable as the economy is transformed. The availability of health care and education—as human rights—will be essential. If people do not have access to them, they will be forced to work harder for less. Inequality will continue to increase and our political debates will grow more desperate. That doesn't have to be our future. By embracing Medicare for All, as well as plans to expand Social Security, we can ensure that working-class people—many of whom will find themselves self-employed or working in the gig economy—will not be left in the lurch because they do not have a steady employer that provides health benefits and a pension. And in an era where people will need more training and expertise than ever before, free college education should be a no-brainer.
- Page 203
- Research by the Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing at Rutgers University has found that employee ownership boosts company productivity by 4 percent, shareholder returns by 2 percent, and profits by 14 percent. This is a case where discarding the old uber-capitalist models and trying something new is good for workers and good for business. That's one of the reasons why I made employee ownership a big issue in my second presidential campaign. Under the plan that we developed during the campaign—and which I have since used as a basis for legislative proposals—corporations with at least $100 million in annual revenue, as well as all publicly traded companies, would be required to provide at least 2 percent of stock to their workers every year until the company is at least 20 percent owned by employees. This would be done through the issuing of new shares and the establishment of Democratic Employee Ownership Funds. These funds would be controlled by a board of trustees directly elected by the workers, and that board would have the right to vote the shares in the best interest of company employees—in the same way that other institutional shareholders vote their shares. The shares would be held in permanent trust for the workers, and so, while they have increase in value, they wouldn't be sold to speculators. But employees would benefit from the increased value through dividends paid directly to them.
- Page 207
- The trouble with debates about public education in the United States is that they rarely have anything to do with education—let alone establishing the habits of analytical thinking and civic engagement that give us the freedom to be more than just cogs in the machinery of corporate America. For the most part, in recent years, education debates at the national level and in communities across this country have been proxy wars for right-wing strategists who see schools as vehicles to advance their divide-and-conquer agenda. Cynical Republicans like Florida governor Ron DeSantis want to argue about whether students and teachers should be required to wear masks during a pandemic, about whether LGBTQ kids should be treated with respect, about whether educators should be allowed to teach the actual history of the United States—as opposed to a truncated version in which fundamental issues are ignored and critical thinking is disregarded. Amid all the political infighting over mask mandates and Critical Race Theory, about test scores and funding mechanisms, we've losing our focus on what matters most in education; the encouragement of students to explore big ideas, to learn how to assess what makes sense and what does not, to become engaged and active citizens who live happy and fulfilling lives. For education to get focused on the real needs, and the real possibilities for students in the twenty-first century, we have to break out the mentality that considers our elementary and secondary schools merely training grounds for workers.
- Pages 211-212
- Instead of focusing on the vitally important questions that impact our society, including the impact of wealth and power on decision-making, corporate media most often on gossip, trivia, and personalities—especially when it is covering campaigns and elections. Is it important for citizens to know about the lives of those who seek public office—their honesty, experience, health, family, and history of personal relationships? Yes it is. But at the end of the day, elections have to be about a lot more than personality contests. We're not going to get any kind of progress in this country if the media remains obsessed with the "issues" of who is more "likable" and whom we would most like to have a beer with. I suspect that we will not be soon returning to the three-hour Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858, but the focus of campaigns must be about what candidates stand for, and what they will do to improve our lives and the world we live in. Elections must center around the needs of the people, not the petty personal fumbles of the candidates. The focus on personalities unlinks politics from the major issues we face, dumbs down serious discussions, and deflects attention from the role that corporate interests and the billionaire class play in impacting the lives of the great mass of Americans. This, in turn, narrows the frame in which governing is reported and constrains the range of options that Americans believe are available. The issues that matter most to working-class Americans—a dysfunctional health care system, low wages, poverty, deindustrialization, the abandonment of working-class communities, and growing inequality—are neglected, and only grudgingly addressed when they cannot be avoided.
- Page 239
- As more and more newspapers go out of existence and vast stretches of the country become news deserts, we need to rethink how local media is maintained in order to guarantee that Americans can access the information they need to cultivate a vibrant democracy. In my view, there has to be significant public funding for diverse, competitive media at the national, regional, and local levels. That's not a radical idea. At the founding of the United States, the first Congresses provided massive postal subsidies to printers so that they could distribute newspapers. The subsidies went to all sides in the great debates of the early United States, and they fostered media diversity and discussion so intense that the French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville determined, after touring the young country in the 1830s, that newspapers were an essential underpinning for "Democracy in America." Even now, almost two hundred years later, our largest media outlets enjoy massive subsidies. The public owns the airwaves of this country, yet media conglomerates claim exclusive use of those airwaves for their own economic benefit. Once they have obtained a license, they can bank whatever profits come to them from owning television and radio stations, and with the loosening of standards and regulations initiated by the w:Telecommunications Act of 1996 and industry-aligned members of the w:Federal Communications Commission, they have generally done so with little to no accountability.
- Pages 252-253
- Republicans are constantly on the watch to exploit grievances. And what of Democrats? Do they counter the GOP strategies that deflect attention from the real sources of pain and frustration among working-class voters of all backgrounds? Ask yourself: What is the overall message of the Democratic president, Democratic congressional leaders, and the Democratic Party leaders? If Republicans have defined minorities or immigrants or gay people as "the enemy," and "the problem," who are Democrats calling out as the real culprits? Who are Democrats holding responsible for the pain that so many Americans are experiencing? It's not enough to simply say that the Republicans are engaging in ugly politics when they target immigrants, women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community. It's not enough simply to say that Trump and his followers are extremists who do not believe in democracy and the rule of law. Democrats should be making it absolutely clear that the people the Republicans take their money from, and the people whom Republican policies serve—the very rich and the very powerful individuals who seek an America where uber-capitalism defines every aspect of our economy and of our society—are the problem. There is a reason why Republicans oppose saving the planet, oppose taxing the rich, oppose regulating corporations. And oppose responding to inflation by addressing corporate price gouging and profiteerring. They are delivering for their billionaire donors and their corporate sponsors. Pure and simple. Democrats should be making it clear that they are prepared to challenge the rich and powerful on behalf of the working class. This will resonate with the American people in ways that the GOP lies never could. Unfortunately, this economic justice message is rarely if ever delivered by the Democrats. And that has a lot to do with our broken campaign finance system and Democrats' dependency on campaign contributions from the wealth and powerful.
- Pages 284-285
- I will never tell you how to vote. If I do, don't listen to me.
- Snopes.com found no record of Sanders saying those words. May be derived from a statement during an MSNBC town hall in April 2016:
- We are not a movement where I can snap my fingers and say to you or to anybody else what you should do, because you won't listen to me. You shouldn't. You'll make these decisions yourself.
- Snopes.com found no record of Sanders saying those words. May be derived from a statement during an MSNBC town hall in April 2016:
Quotes about Sanders
(most recent first)
- Whether one agrees with the myriad solutions Sanders lays out in his book to stop the scourge of uber-capitalism, there is no question that he has accurately framed the problem as being about freedom. The Vermont senator has been nothing short of prophetic in warning against the dire consequences of a culture that prizes productivity above all else and coddles and venerates the super-rich. Perhaps most of all, Sanders has powerfully articulated — both in his campaigns and his latest book — the profound lack of decency and utter immorality of the current American economic system. Now it’s up to all of us to decide what to do about it.
- Kirsten Powers in Opinion: Bernie Sanders is right about capitalism (24 February 2023)
- Bernie Sanders lost his mind because I asked for that. He is exactly the reason we need it.
- Nikki Haley on Sanders' response to her plan for mandatory tests of the mental acuity of politicians over age 75, as quoted in Nikki Haley: Bernie Sanders is ‘exactly the reason’ mental competency tests are needed (21 February 2023)
- It pained me that so many people regarded Bernie Sanders's 2016 campaign as a bitter defeat rather than a resounding victory in proving there was a constituency and momentum for progressive ideas that could be built upon in the years to come.
- Rebecca Solnit Not Too Late: Changing the Climate Story from Despair to Possibility (2023)
- Operating with the baseline assumption that Sanders runs only if Biden doesn’t, another condition is that no serious politician with Sanders’ worldview runs as well. If a credible advocate for democratic socialism and anti-imperialism steps up to the plate, then Sanders should use the occasion to pass the torch to the next generation and act as a surrogate for his chosen candidate. (Sanders’ circle has reportedly encouraged Rep. Ro Khanna of California to consider a presidential bid, toward that very end it seems.) Assuming those conditions are met, another Sanders run wouldn’t excite me the way his first two runs did, but it could still be a force for tremendous good. Sanders has become an extraordinarily influential politician through his previous two runs. In 2020, most of the major Democratic candidates took on some of his signature policy proposals like "Medicare for All" — or positioned themselves by holding them at some kind of measured distance. They did this because they believed that Sanders was tapping into real desires in the progressive Democratic electorate, and because they viewed Sanders as a serious threat whose ideas should be co-opted or moderated instead of ignored.
- Zeeshan Aleem in Bernie Sanders has flaws. But he could still be a force for good in 2024. (28 September 2022)
- Without Sanders or a Sanders-like figure in the mix, the 2024 Democratic presidential primary could easily end up feeling more like an attempted coronation than an open field. With Biden in the White House, and the specter of another Donald Trump presidential nomination from the Republican Party, Democratic voters will be primed to look for cues from Biden, party elites and the media on how to keep the boat steady while warding off another potential showdown against Trump. Biden administration figures like Vice President Kamala Harris or Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg are obvious candidates for Biden’s case for Biden 2.0. Without a serious lefty challenger, the primary debate could skew far too centrist — especially on economic issues, given the challenge of inflation — and focus too heavily on defeating Trump rather than laying out a robust, positive vision of how to address society’s ills.
- Zeeshan Aleem in Bernie Sanders has flaws. But he could still be a force for good in 2024. (28 September 2022)
- If Sanders were to run again, I’d probably bet on him losing again. In 2020 he underperformed by many metrics compared to his 2016 run against Hillary Clinton, and his continual problems with turning out Black voters, moderates and first-time voters in the primaries seem likely to encumber a third attempt as well. But in the unlikely event that he won, he would be well-positioned to beat Trump. Democratic turnout will be high in any general election against Trump; Sanders is immune to Trump’s powerful broadsides against establishment candidate corruption; and Sanders is uniquely well-suited for our populist moment. (None of this is to say I wouldn't have concerns about his age or his competitiveness against a different Republican nominee.) In an ideal world, Sanders is able to help foster the arrival of one of the next lefty champions in electoral politics. But given the right circumstances, he shouldn’t be ruled out as a valuable contributor to a future nominating contest that could be at risk of a dangerously narrow range of debate.
- Zeeshan Aleem in Bernie Sanders has flaws. But he could still be a force for good in 2024. (28 September 2022)
- All of this is hypothetical, of course, because the 79-year-old Biden insists he is running again. If he does, no Democrat can defeat him. And if Biden bows out, the front-runner for the nomination will be Kamala Harris. Harris cannot clear the field like Biden can, but she will carry a decisive edge as the sitting vice-president. The trouble for liberals is that Harris is at least as unpopular as Biden, and her prior campaign for the presidency was a disaster. Against Donald Trump or Florida governor Ron DeSantis, neither Biden nor Harris inspire a great deal of confidence. But all of this has obscured, for the most part, another dispiriting reality for the many progressives and leftists who have grown used to having one of their own run competitive races for the presidency: There is no obvious heir to Bernie Sanders. The Vermont senator, now 80, will almost certainly not run for president a third time. Sanders is an unabashedly left-wing democratic socialist who won major states in both of his presidential bids. If 2020 was a step back for Sanders — he won far fewer votes against Biden than he did against the polarizing Hillary Clinton four years earlier — he still broke through on major terrain, beating the field in enormous states like California and growing his support with working-class Latinos. He was wildly popular with voters under 30. Outside of perhaps Jesse Jackson or George McGovern, there was never a presidential candidate like Sanders in modern American history: someone who contested a Democratic primary from the far left, against the full brunt of the political Establishment, and finished runner-up each time.
- Ross Barkan in Who Comes After Bernie? (13 July 2022)
- Sanders had his weaknesses. He failed to win over a majority of Black voters, particularly those in the South, and struggled to compete with all voters over 50, who make up a large chunk of those who show up in primaries. His socialist brand limited him in states like Florida. His age, while a novelty in 2016, probably hampered him in 2020. A liberal coalition of Democratic voters, those deeply loyal to Clinton, always reviled Sanders, while his supporters who merely disliked her had evaporated four years later, choosing Biden instead.
- Ross Barkan in Who Comes After Bernie? (13 July 2022)
- Where does the left go from here exactly? The most obvious successors to Sanders are the Squad: the leftist members of Congress who endorsed him for president and, in the case of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, worked on his first presidential campaign. None, including AOC, are probably in a position to run in 2024 because members of the House have struggled, historically, to mount serious presidential bids. AOC herself will be turning just 35, the minimum age required by the Constitution to serve as president. Another congressman, Ro Khanna of California, co-chaired Sanders’s 2020 campaign and has been talked about as a future presidential candidate, but unless he reaches a higher office, he is unlikely to ever be a top-tier national candidate. Jamaal Bowman, a Squad member like AOC, could be a compelling contender one day if he ever rises to mayor, governor, or senator in New York.
- Ross Barkan in Who Comes After Bernie? (13 July 2022)
- If the Squad represents the future of the left after Sanders, they would be wise to learn from his example. While Sanders represents one of the smallest states in America, he first rose to power at a time when Vermont was still voting for Republican presidential candidates. Sanders existed in a political world in which his leftism had to be made palatable to the kind of voter who could have preferred George H.W. Bush or Ronald Reagan. Representing a rural state that once swung between both parties, he developed an appreciation for talking to an ideologically heterodox constituency that wasn’t always going to support him on every issue. Sanders had to contort himself to appease gun owners and those who wanted a slice of the military-industrial complex at home.
- Ross Barkan in Who Comes After Bernie? (13 July 2022)
- The 2016 version of Sanders was probably his best: leading with economic concerns and speaking, whenever possible, in universal terms. The left’s future will be in building a multiracial, working-class coalition that began to take shape under Sanders but never grew big enough to overcome Clinton or Biden. Sanders won millions of fans talking about free health care and free higher education, wisely rebranding “single-payer health care” as Medicare for All, name-checking the popular program for senior citizens. He was more attentive to issues of race than his critics gave him credit for, though he was never going to win over moderate Black voters by featuring more incendiary activists and public speakers on his campaign, such as the scandal-scarred Shaun King. His failure to proudly identify as a Democrat — he has been an independent his whole life — probably helped do him in, along with his criticisms of the Obama-Biden wing of the party.
- Ross Barkan in Who Comes After Bernie? (13 July 2022)
- Since Biden circa 2022 is often compared to 1970s Jimmy Carter due to a combination of sluggish job approval ratings, unhappy progressive activists, and big-time economic problems (especially inflation), it is germane to observe that Carter managed to soundly defeat Ted Kennedy — the liberal lion of the 1970s and subsequent decades — in the 1980 nomination contest. Are there any Ted Kennedys around right now to mobilize progressive anti-administration grievances into a successful insurgent candidacy? Someday, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may have that stature — but not now. Indeed, the only potential rival from any wing of the party who is in that position is Bernie Sanders, who is older than Biden. And even if there were some Kennedy-like figure available, would the fight disable the Democratic Party (as it arguably did in 1980) more than slogging ahead with the incumbent?
- Ed Kilgore in Are Democrats Stuck With Joe Biden in 2024? (11 July 2022)
- Nobody in their right mind believes Joe Biden is going to be on the ticket in 2024 and the vice president is certainly not up to this job. So, you've got people like Liz Warren who are now making all kinds of noises about taking the leadership reins of the Democratic Party. Bernie Sanders this week talked about, well, if Biden's not on the ticket, I may make another run at the age of 135, but the progressives are really agitated because they're saying, "Look, we're going to lose in November because we have a messaging issue," which is not the case, "but also because we have not delivered on our agenda."
- Monica Crowley on Jesse Watters Primetime (27 April 2022)
- Sanders was one of just four members of the Senate Democratic caucus to vote against advancing the latest NDAA, which is on track to pass the upper chamber this week. Joining Sanders in voting no were Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.). The House approved its version of the NDAA in September. None of the corporate-backed House Democrats currently holding up the reconciliation bill over purported concerns about its costs voted against the proposed Pentagon budget increase, which progressive lawmakers have tried unsuccessfully to block. In his floor speech Wednesday, Sanders pointed out that the Senate's 2022 military policy bill proposes spending "$37 billion more than President Trump's last defense budget and $25 billion more than what President Biden requested....Sanders' remarks on the NDAA... came as Democrats in Congress also worked to finalize the Build Back Better Act, a reconciliation package whose social spending and climate provisions have been gutted to satisfy right-wing members of the majority party such as Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
- Why is it OK for me to admit having used marijuana but not heroin? I know why, of course. Because most people have been led to believe that heroin is inherently a dangerous drug, whereas pot is just a harmless giggle. It's frustrating. Consider the remarks made by senator Bernie Sanders at the start of 2018 on this subject: "Marijuana is not the same as heroin. No one who has seriously studied the issue believes that marijuana should be classified as a Schedule I drug beside killer drugs like heroin." As politicians go, Sanders seems to be a fair-minded, well-intentioned individual. But his drug perspective is ignorant. Here's why: In order for a drug, any drug, to produce an effect in the brain, it must first bind to a unique site recognized by that drug. This site, this "receptor"-a specialized structure that recognizes and responds to a particular chemical-is endogenous, meaning that it's in all of us. We also have an endogenous chemical that binds to each of these receptors. That means, each of our brains contains heroin-like and
THC-like chemicals and their corresponding receptors.
- Carl Hart Drug Use for Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear (2021)
- I think that Senator Sanders did a wonderful job. I think Michelle Obama was very powerful last night. But you’re right with Senator Sanders that — look, one of the things I noticed out there right now is that whether people are liberal or conservative, they’re Republican, Democrat, independent, what they want are solutions. And I think what Bernie did well in highlighting was this is what electing Joe Biden is going to mean for you and your family — raising the minimum wage, healthcare, a number of other things that are going to make people’s lives better. That’s what I think people want to know. You know, how is this person going to make my life and the life of my family and the country better than it is today?
- Julian Castro Interview with Democracy Now (August 2020)
- As military historian and retired career officer Andrew Bacevich notes, “endless wars persist (and in some cases have even intensified); the nation’s various alliances and its empire of overseas bases remain intact; US troops are still present in something like 140 countries; Pentagon and national security state spending continues to increase astronomically.” When the National Defense Authorization Act for the next fiscal year came before Congress this summer, Senator Bernie Sanders proposed a modest 10 percent reduction in military spending so $70 billion could be re-directed to domestic programs. Representative Barbara Lee introduced a House resolution calling for $350 billion worth of DOD cuts. Neither proposal has gained much traction, even among Democrats on Capitol Hill. Instead, the House Armed Services Committee just voted 56 to 0 to spend $740.5 billion on the Pentagon in the coming year, prefiguring the outcome of upcoming votes by the full House and Senate.
- Patriotic Dissent: How a Working-Class Soldier Turned Against “Forever Wars”, by Steve Early and Suzanne Gordon, CounterPunch, (24 July 2020)
- The big corporate Democratic Party donors made it clear that if Bernie Sanders became the presidential nominee, they would support Trump. The donor class has created a system where they cannot fail. If it's Trump or Biden, Goldman Sachs doesn't lose, ExxonMobil doesn't lose, Raytheon doesn't lose, Citibank doesn't lose. There is no way that they can lose. They have rigged the system so that their interests are always served.
- Two of Sanders’ top advisers — pollster Ben Tulchin and speechwriter David Sirota — told Sanders that he should pointedly take on Biden at the Feb. 25 debate in South Carolina, which the former vice president saw as his firewall state. They also said Sanders should use billionaire Mike Bloomberg as a foil, and attack him over his record of supporting stop-and-frisk, in order to deflect from the onslaught he would no doubt face as the newly anointed frontrunner. The stakes were high: In an email to senior staff, Tulchin said that moderate voters were beginning to unify behind Biden and that the consolidation would intensify if he won South Carolina, according to people familiar with the message. But on the stage that night, Sanders didn’t take his aides’ advice. Instead, he largely gave Biden a pass, bashed Bloomberg sometimes — but not over stop-and-frisk — and mostly stuck to his standard talking points. It wasn’t the first nor the last time Sanders eschewed his staffers’ suggestions to be more aggressive with his top rival. Their warnings proved prescient: Biden went on to sweep the day in South Carolina, unify moderates, and then carry Super Tuesday. "Knocking out Biden was job No. 1. And even when he was down, no one went for a knockout blow," said a top aide. "That was the problem." Sanders’ unwillingness to go for Biden’s jugular is just one of the decisions campaign aides are wrestling with since he exited the primary Wednesday. Despite being the best fundraiser in the Democratic field, having near universal name ID, and leading a massive volunteer army, Sanders performed worse in many ways in 2020 than in 2016. He badly lost among African-Americans yet again, and the rural and working-class white voters who were with him four years ago abandoned him.
- Holly Otterbein in ’No one went for a knockout blow’: Inside Bernie’s campaign nosedive (10 April 2020)
- Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders received the most votes in the first three primary elections. After centrist Joe Biden scored his first primary win, the DNC consolidated the Democratic Party establishment around him. Candidates... immediately dropped out of the race and endorsed Biden... The party bosses likely wanted to ensure that Sanders would not upend the corporate order... At the March 15 debate with Biden, Sanders asked the rhetorical question: Where is the power in America?...“Who owns the media? Who owns the economy? Who owns the legislative process? Why do we give tax breaks to billionaires and not raise the minimum wage? Why do we pump up the oil industry while a half a million people are homeless in America?” Sanders criticized the bipartisan $8.3 billion coronavirus spending bill. It mandates temporary paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave. But it exempts companies with more than 500 employees from the obligation to provide leave, excluding about 6.5 million workers. Moreover, the exemptions disproportionately hurt low-wage workers. And it contains no limits on the ability of the pharmaceutical companies to profit from the coronavirus... When he defines himself as a democratic socialist, Sanders said, he means “Economic rights are human rights.” The core of his Medicare for All plan is, “Health care is a human right.”
- Many of us vividly recall the hotly contested 2016 primary race between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, whom I strongly supported. Sanders’ message of fighting income inequality and pushing for Medicare for all resonated with many Democratic voters, as it does now, and after winning the New Hampshire primary he seemed to have momentum on his side. But the race inevitably shifted to the South and its heavy contingent of black voters. Clinton benefited from her husband’s popularity with black voters and pulverized Sanders in South Carolina by 47 percentage points. Sanders next got crushed on Super Tuesday, losing the southern and southwest states of Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Texas. In 2020, Sanders was determined to avoid repeating that history. He tried to increase his percentage of the black vote by blanketing Facebook with ads that highlighted his long-standing commitment to civil rights. He also talked up issues of paramount importance to the black community – criminal justice reform and social-economic injustice. Sanders enlisted the help of influential black surrogates such as Harvard Professor Cornel West and rapper Killer Mike. He began airing a TV ad that features former President Barack Obama’s past praise of him, even though he has positioned himself as the anti-establishment candidate. Former Obama aides like David Axelrod questioned the ad given that Sanders and the former President were not particularly close. In Mississippi, his campaign funded an ad campaign on black radio. But despite all this, Sanders once again failed miserably with black voters. He got crushed, again, in South Carolina and then suffered a blowout loss on Super Tuesday. And Tuesday night, he suffered perhaps a fatal blow by losing the three Ms – Mississippi, Missouri, and Michigan. So, what did Sanders do wrong this time? Well, it didn’t help that on the Sunday before Super Tuesday he failed to appear at a Bloody Sunday ceremonial event in Selma, Alabama, that honors the civil rights leaders who marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Sanders compounded that mistake by canceling a rally in Mississippi. Perhaps unknown to him is that many African Americans from my hometown of St. Louis hail from the South and have deep ties to blacks in Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia. Sanders’ actions were an affront not just to those southerners, but to blacks in Missouri.
- Areva Martin in Why Bernie Sanders struck out with black voters (12 March 2020)
- Sanders’ relentless attacks on millionaires and billionaires didn’t resonate with a large segment of the black community that takes pride in the successes of black billionaires such as Robert Smith, who paid off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class at Morehouse College. Sanders doesn’t seem to understand that although many African Americans suffer from an economic system stacked against them, we are economically aspirational. Many African Americans applaud the high achievement and success of billionaires like Oprah Winfrey, Jay-Z and Michael Jordan. But Sanders’ biggest mistake, undoubtedly, was his failure to understand the mindset of middle-aged and older African Americans. For many of these voters, Trump’s relentless attempts to dismantle Obamacare and destroy the entire legacy of the first black president – Barack Obama – has been an unending nightmare. The unyielding assault and systematic attack on other prominent African American leaders, like Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and the dismantling of safety net programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for seniors made removing Trump from office a pivotal issue for many black voters.
- Areva Martin in Why Bernie Sanders struck out with black voters (12 March 2020)
- For many voters, the 2016 election was their first introduction to the Vermont senator with the unkempt hair and radical ideas. He knew more people would know his name if he ran again in 2020, but he needed to do more: He needed to hire a more diverse staff, attend events at historically black colleges and universities, speak to black media and black people directly, and, perhaps more than anything, listen to black voices. He did all that. But despite his efforts, the support never quite materialized. From the South Carolina primary through Super Tuesday, among black voters, Sanders was trounced by former Vice President Joe Biden. Sanders offered a revolution; voters rebuffed it. The black people who did support Sanders tended to be younger—and young people tend to vote at lower rates than older people do.
- Adam Harris in Bernie Sanders Reached Out to Black Voters. Why Didn’t It Work? (10 March 2020)
- The Super Tuesday results reveal a serious flaw in Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaign: his lack of support among African Americans, whose votes are critical not only for winning the Democratic primary, but for defeating President Donald Trump in the fall. Democrats who wish to beat Trump but prefer Sanders to former Vice President Joe Biden, must ask themselves the following question: Can a campaign that rests primarily on class warfare and economic justice, one that largely relegates race to a concern simply encompassed by economic reform, attract enough black voters to prevail?
- Politico in Why Bernie Sanders Isn’t Winning Over Black Voters (7 March 2020)
- Let’s face it, Biden isn’t so great on race, either. His support of the controversial 1994 crime bill, as well as his opposition to busing in the 1970s, should give pause to anyone who thinks of him as a committed racial progressive. But Biden has some built-in advantages over Sanders: He was vice president to the first black president, and his moderate politics are generally seen as making him more electable than Sanders. Black folks, given Trump’s threats to racial progress, want him out of the White House in the worst way. The map doesn’t get much easier for Sanders in the next round of primaries; in several upcoming states, the black community is key. No one expects him to abandon his long-held economic message, but if he wants to increase his support from black voters, he needs to pay more attention to race and racism. Otherwise, his revolution will soon fail again.
- Politico in Why Bernie Sanders Isn’t Winning Over Black Voters (7 March 2020)
- Bernie's particular brand of socialism is probably better described as 'grandparent envy.'
- Van Jones 3/7/20 on Real Time with Bill Maher
- And Black voters over 45 have lived long enough to see the history made by Obama, but also have an even longer memory of the disappointment and shortcomings of candidates who failed. They’ve surveyed the polarized political landscape and bitterly divided Congress, and they doubt that a Sanders’-style political revolution is even a remote possibility in an age when just voting to fund the government is regularly up for debate. Many of them admired the grit and talent of Warren but had no faith that white men in any significant numbers would support a woman for president, even if she was the best choice. The entire black constituency is not unified behind Biden, however; there’s a significant generational split, with many younger voters backing Sanders. These younger voters grew up in the shadow of new possibilities presented by Obama’s victories. For them, the first election they participated in or can even recall was an election of phenomenal change, where a black candidate defied all expectations to win back-to-back terms as president. These are voters who know that hope has worked and believe it can work again, so they are open to Sanders’ critiques of the high costs of college and income inequality, and they agree there’s an urgent need for change.
- Blair LM Kelley in Biden has black voters' support over Sanders, and it's not because they're moderates (5 March 2020)
- I am supporting Bernie Sanders for president because I believe that his campaign and his understanding of politics complements the priorities that women of color defined decades ago...At the same time that I was growing up in Cleveland, Bernie Sanders, who was a few years older, was growing up in Brooklyn. He noticed some of the same paradoxes and injustices that I did and came to a similar conclusion: that he needed to get involved...Sanders has devoted most of his life to social movements. He has shaped them and been shaped by them. He understands that the most substantial and meaningful change comes from the bottom up, not the top down...Sanders has said that as president he will be “organizer-in-chief”. He is committed to fighting for regular working people, which is most of us, and he has the advantage of connection with an existing broad-based social movement. As president he can implement policies that give those who are most harmed by the current system full access to opportunity and a decent human life...In 2016 I served on the LGBTQ steering committee for the Sanders campaign. I am even more excited to support him now...Four of the most dynamic women of color in Congress – representatives Pramila Jayapal, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib – have endorsed Bernie...The stakes could not be higher. Before the 2016 election I dreaded a return to the Jim Crow era signaled by the slogan “Make America Great Again”, which obviously meant white. Tragically that is exactly what happened. Four more years is unthinkable. That is why I am working to elect President Bernie Sanders.
- Barbara Smith article in The Guardian
- No matter who wins the Democratic presidential nomination, many millions of people will refuse to unsee what has become all too clear. On the verge of spring 2020, we can see what we’re up against:
A crowing media establishment, eager to relegate the Bernie Sanders campaign to the political margins.
A gloating Democratic Party establishment, glad to rally around Potemkin candidate Joe Biden and extol his carefully crafted façade.
Overall, interlocking systems based on greed and corporate power instead of shared resources and genuine democracy.
- On Tuesday night, there was no mistaking the smug joy of studio pundits and Democratic Party operatives on networks like AT&T-owned CNN and Comcast-owned MSNBC. Meanwhile, the New York Times rushed into print yet another all-out attack piece masquerading as a “news” article about Sanders. Dominant media have routinely slanted coverage to make Sanders look bad, often bypassing context and skewing facts. It was just another day at the office last week when the Times front-paged a flagrant smear of Sanders as a supposed propaganda tool of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s. A former U.S. ambassador to Moscow quickly denounced the story as a “distortion of history.”
Such regular deceptions from a range of corporate media shouldn’t surprise us, but they should never cease to outrage us. The same is true of the rampant corporate sleaziness in the upper reaches of the Democratic National Committee.
Corporate media and corporate Democrats want the Bernie 2020 campaign -- and the grassroots energy behind it -- to melt away. That’s not going to happen.
Movements that have been propelling the Sanders campaign are here for the long haul -- as determined to keep fighting for social justice as top corporate executives are determined to keep collecting huge paychecks. (And that’s saying something.)
- For a brief moment last Tuesday after the Democratic presidential debate, past the hallways that snaked from the spin room to the exit near the back of the Gaillard Center in South Carolina, two of the candidates ended up stuck together in a small room, unable to leave. There was a problem with the door — security needed to unlock it — and so they stood together waiting. Had chance put them there with anybody else, it might’ve been a moment of awkward silence. Amy Klobuchar and Bernie Sanders dislike plenty of people, but not each other. The fact of their friendship, based on a little-discussed, yearslong mutual respect, is all at once entirely unexpected and intuitively obvious. As candidates, they shared a stubborn force of will and a fierce distaste for their enemies — both of them salty, but in vastly different ways. As senators, they work together all the time, but in matters of ideology and political sensibility, they agree on very little. He, for example, will hate this article — see: "political gossip," personality-driven media, etc. She already loves it.
- BuzzFeed News in Remembering This Election’s Strangest Friendship: Bernie Sanders And Amy Klobuchar (3 March 2020)
- Indeed, Sanders’s biggest threat is not any one of his opponents but a party establishment that remains nervous about his potential nomination. Within minutes of the polls closing in South Carolina tonight, pressure was building for some of the lagging candidates to drop out and rally behind Biden. “I’m hoping some of the candidates tomorrow get out,” former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, a previous chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said on CNN as he endorsed the former vice president. Sanders, however, would rather most of his rivals stay in for now—even if that means he takes a few losses on Super Tuesday.
- Russell Berman in Bernie Sanders Meets His Biggest Threat (29 February 2020)
- In a sign of the increasing urgency of the calendar, Sanders devoted part of his speech to imploring young people to vote and to rebutting critiques of his electability in a race against Trump. Sanders needs a larger turnout among young voters to hold off his rivals and convince Democratic skeptics that he can win in the fall. His double-digit defeat in South Carolina was a shellacking. If his landslide in Nevada suggested that Sanders had made deep inroads among the Latino community, the result in South Carolina is a reminder that he has a much tougher challenge in winning over African Americans, and particularly older voters. More important, however, Sanders must hope that South Carolina is not the first sign of a broader national reconsideration of his candidacy. The answer to that question could be clear by Tuesday night.
- Russell Berman in Bernie Sanders Meets His Biggest Threat (29 February 2020)
- Biden cleaned house, earning over 60 percent of the African-American vote according to exit polls—a dynamic that suggests a familiar challenge ahead for Sanders. In 2016, his insurgent campaign against Sec. Hillary Clinton saw its momentum blunted repeatedly by her overwhelming support among African-Americans. Sanders very well may have won that nomination if he could only have drawn more black support. After licking his wounds, Sanders learned his lesson and did the hard work of establishing more of a sustained presence in black and brown political life. He dramatically diversified his campaign at the top and made inroads with younger, more progressive up-and-coming community leaders and politicians of color who tend to be more open to his ambitious agenda than more moderate, older African-Americans. For some time now, it appeared as though Sanders’ work was paying off. He handily won Latinos and held his own with African-Americans in Nevada, the first truly diverse state to participate in the 2020 primary to date. And until recently, polls showed him surging in South Carolina, even threatening to take the lead. Pundits will have a field day trying to diagnose what went wrong for the 2020 frontrunner in South Carolina. Was it the Clyburn endorsement (which felt dramatic and inevitable at the same time)? The impact of the most prolonged attacks on Sanders by his competitors since the race began? Sanders continues to show strength with black voters under 40, which is more than can be said for Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and arguably Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who have all garnered almost no support from African-Americans to date.
- Adam Howard in Bernie Worked Hard to Win Over Black Voters. Here's Why They Stuck With Joe. (29 February 2020)
- The Democratic Party's officials are going to do everything they can, as they did four years ago, to block that independent vote. That vote is Sanders' vote. Those against Sanders in the Democratic leadership are also going to do what they can to reduce the Hispanic vote. It's strange to me that we always talk about Biden and the black vote. What's not talked about is that Sanders really owns the Hispanic vote, and in California that's decisive. They're doing everything they can to block Hispanic voters, young voters and independent voters who support Bernie Sanders.
- Like father of the conservative movement Barry Goldwater, Sanders is a factional candidate of the true faith, the representative of those who believe his party has lost touch with its ideological moorings. His brand is consistency and sincerity, which wins him affection if not support even from some opponents. But those very same qualities make it easy for the opposition (both within and outside the party) to tar him as a radical and an extremist. Sen. Goldwater lost the 1964 presidential election badly — but he was running against Lyndon Johnson, a legislative titan whose approval rating was over 75 percent that February. And Goldwater transformed his party nonetheless. His opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act began the process of ideological realignment that turned the South solidly Republican, a key factor powering Ronald Reagan's victorious quest for the presidency in 1980 and Newt Gingrich's capture of the House of Representatives in 1994. How did Goldwater's thrashing ultimately lead to a Republican majority? The answer is both ideological and demographic. Goldwater realigned the Republican center toward the South and West, the fastest-growing regions of the country. Increasing dominance in these regions led to a substantial electoral college advantage that wasn't broken until 1992. Ideologically, meanwhile, he gave Republicans something to be for rather than merely against. That's why they were able to define a new political era when Reagan won. That's the promise that Sanders holds even if he loses: that he opens the door not only to a return to power, but a transformation of the terms of the debate, something neither Clinton nor Obama — nor Eisenhower, Nixon, or Bush — achieved, but that FDR, Johnson, and Reagan did. But what's the demographic basis of Sanders' rise? And could it actually point to a dominant coalition, whether it manifests in 2020 or a subsequent election?
- Noah Millman in Is Bernie Sanders the Democrats' Goldwater, Reagan, or Trump? (25 February 2020)
- Could Sanders be more than a harbinger, though, and achieve something like Ronald Reagan's breakthrough? There are tempting parallels. Reagan challenged the incumbent Gerald Ford for the nomination in 1976 and nearly took the nomination from him, much as Sanders gave Hillary Clinton a far tougher run for her money than anyone could have imagined. And like Reagan, Sanders has demonstrated the ability to be far more pragmatic in government than he is often given credit for, working within the system and demonstrating an admirable institutional conservatism with his support for the filibuster and opposition to court packing. His historic support for gun rights even has a parallel in Reagan's support for abortion rights as California governor.
- Noah Millman in Is Bernie Sanders the Democrats' Goldwater, Reagan, or Trump? (25 February 2020)
- Like Trump, Sanders comes from outside the institutional party he seeks to lead, and a substantial portion of his appeal rests precisely on that independence, and on pent up frustration with the party leadership. Like Trump, Sanders is leading a movement deeply bound up with his own persona, something hard to imagine sustaining itself in his absence. And like Trump, were Sanders to achieve victory, he could face persistent resistance within the party to promoting his agenda, and he would certainly have difficulty staffing his administration with people associated with his movement rather than the institutional party. That's a fact that will surely affect the actual course of policymaking in a Sanders administration as it has in Trump's. But there are two crucial differences between Sanders and Trump. First, Sanders is a sincere ideologue like Goldwater and Reagan, not an opportunist. He is running to transform his party ideologically rather than simply conquer it and make it his plaything. There's a reason why Trump has done so little to actually turn the GOP into a worker's party and to repudiate the wealth-favoring policies backed by its donors: Because he is not actually that interested in policy. Sanders is. That difference cuts both ways, however. It makes it easier for Sanders to get between Trump and his lies, and separate him from that portion of his supporters who believed he was a relative moderate in 2016. But it also makes it easier for Trump to retain the loyalty of his party's regulars, and to separate Sanders from the portion of his coalition that is worried about him not because he might lose but because he might win. Cynicism has its advantages as well as its drawbacks.
- Noah Millman in Is Bernie Sanders the Democrats' Goldwater, Reagan, or Trump? (25 February 2020)
- So, look, the way I see this is that Bernie is winning right now because the Democratic Party is a progressive party, and progressive ideas are popular ideas, even if there are a lot of people on this stage who don't want to say so. You know, but Bernie and I agree on a lot of things, but I think I would make a better president than Bernie. And the reason for that is that getting a progressive agenda enacted is going to be really hard, and it's going to take someone who digs into the details to make it happen. Bernie and I both wanted to help rein in Wall Street. In 2008, we both got our chance. But I dug in. I fought the big banks. I built the coalitions, and I won. Bernie and I both want to see universal health care, but Bernie's plan doesn't explain how to get there, doesn't show how we're going to get enough allies into it, and doesn't show enough about how we're going to pay for it. I dug in. I did the work. And then Bernie's team trashed me for it. We need a president who is going to dig in, do the hard work, and actually get it done. Progressives have got one shot. And we need to spend it with a leader who will get something done.
- Elizabeth Warren in South Carolina Democratic debate (25 February 2020)
- Just as Amy has shown on the debate stage, she is the best person to take on Bernie Sanders and the best candidate to beat Donald Trump. Both on and off the debate stage, Amy has highlighted the consequences of having Bernie Sanders lead the top of the ticket, including his divisive politics and health care plan that would kick 149 million Americans off their insurance.
- Justin Bueon in campaign memo, as quoted in Klobuchar campaign memo argues she’s the moderate positioned to beat Sanders (24 February 2020)
- With his convincing victory in Saturday’s Nevada caucuses, Sen. Bernie Sanders is solidifying his status as the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination more than ever before. So how did a life-long avowed socialist and someone who’s never actually won an election as a Democrat get to the top of the party’s mountain? The simple answer is that he’s being supported by millions of younger Democratic voters, and those voters have been raised to be Sanders voters, even if their parents don’t realize it. Here’s how it happened: We convinced everyone college was 100% necessary, and then we made college unaffordable. Since the end of World War II, the chorus of educators, politicians, and journalists making it sound like college was essential for career success only became louder and drowned out any counterargument. At the same time, college tuition costs have exploded thanks greatly to government programs that produced unintended, but predictable consequences. It mostly started in 1978 when more loans and subsidies became available to a greatly expanded number of students. The cost of college tuition has risen by six times more than the rate of inflation since the 1970s. Now, millions of American young people are straddled with college loans that look impossible to repay. The total student loan debt in the U.S. now stands at more than $1.6 trillion. Is it any wonder so many of them are attracted to a candidate who not only promises to forgive their student debts, but presents their predicament as the result of corporate greed and misplaced government priorities? Luckily for Sanders, young voters supporting him for his college tuition forgiveness promises don’t seem to be too interested in his own family history. His wife Jane Sanders was president of the now defunct Burlington College and she and other administrators were reportedly the subjects of a long-running FBI probe that they misled bank loan officers about the real number of donations pledged to the college. The FBI probe of the matter ended in 2018, and Jane Sanders was not charged. But the policies she oversaw, which included pushing for major campus expansions, were indicative of some of the root causes of increased college costs in America.
- Jake Novak in Op-Ed: Bernie Sanders is the front-runner because of how we raised our kids (23 February 2020)
- For all the policy differences and political minutiae Democrats delve into when criticizing President Trump, the most enduring attacks on Trump from the Democratic establishment remain accusations that Trump is supporting white supremacy and is controlled by Russian President Vladimir Putin. These are over-the-top accusations, and it’s hard to accept that even most elected Democrats actually believe them. But pushing that message on America for the last three-plus years comes at a price for both sides. For the Democrats, the price is becoming clear: it’s made moderate presidential candidates look less viable than ever. Think about it: if you really believe the president is a traitor and supporting violent plots against non-white Americans, is this really the time to support mainstream Democrat or Republican candidates? Sanders may be a career politician, but he’s never been a mainstream politician. His persona and political brand fits much better into the current Democratic narrative that we’re living in desperate times. Establishment Democrats are reaping what they sowed. As a result, it’s looking more and more like Sanders has unstoppable momentum going into the Super Tuesday primaries and beyond. The big question now is whether that Democratic establishment will try to derail Sanders before or during the Democratic National Convention. But either way, the party would be playing with fire and risking alienating those younger voters forever.
- Jake Novak in Op-Ed: Bernie Sanders is the front-runner because of how we raised our kids (23 February 2020)
- Donald Trump loves attacking Democrats as "far-left radical socialists." So why does Team Trump spend so much time pumping up Bernie Sanders? Spoiler alert: It’s a trap. But let’s look at the evidence. For weeks, President Trump has been rushing to Bernie’s defense and accusing Democrats of rigging the primaries against him. He accused Democrats of timing his impeachment trial to hurt Bernie Sanders’ chances, an allegation dutifully echoed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Don Jr. The President was at it again on the eve of the Iowa caucus, tweeting that the Democratic National Committee was trying to "rig the election against Sanders," even as he called Bernie Sanders a "communist" in a pre-Super Bowl safe-space interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News. It’s been a repeated riff for months. Conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt on Meet The Press announced that he was voting for Bernie in Virginia’s open primary – because he wanted a clear contrast between an authentic socialist and Donald Trump. This isn’t subtle. Team Trump wants to run against Bernie Sanders. If you don’t believe me, just ask them.
- John Avlon in Here’s why Trump keeps pumping up Bernie Sanders (3 February 2020)
- But what about Bernie? Let’s give the man some credit. There’s no question he has an intense and enthusiastic following. He is an authentic ideologue – an avowed Democratic Socialist who has the courage of his convictions for decades and succeeded in changing the terms of the debate within the Democratic Party. If he wins Iowa, polls show that he could win New Hampshire – which he won in 2016 – and have a strong shot at the next caucuses in Nevada. But don’t forget that less than a quarter of Democrats call themselves “very liberal” – and in general, Democratic voters are older, more moderate and more blue collar than you might think if you gauge opinion only on Twitter, as Harry Enten has persuasively argued. Sanders’ support for ending private health insurance in favor of Medicare for all isn’t popular – while the public option backed by Biden, Buttigieg and Klobuchar is even supported by 41% of Republicans. And the very label "socialist" – along with Sanders’ record of defending the Castro regime in Cuba and the Chavez-Maduro regime in Venezuela – could seriously damage outreach to Hispanic voters in Florida and elsewhere. The Trump team has made it very clear that its campaign will be based on negative partisanship – demonizing Democrats as radical socialists to distract from the President’s broad unpopularity. The bottom line is that they can do that with impunity against an avowed Democratic Socialist such as Bernie Sanders. That’s why they’re pumping up his candidacy, trolling concern about a "rigged system" while also calling him "crazy" and a "communist."
- John Avlon in Here’s why Trump keeps pumping up Bernie Sanders (3 February 2020)
- I’m probably the last guy to defend Sanders. He is a man of the far left and I most certainly am not. But even a conservative like me can see that Sanders was cheated out of the Democratic presidential nomination the last time, with the Democratic National Committee rigging the whole thing for Hillary Clinton. And now it’s happening again. No wonder the Sanders supporters are angry. What happened on CNN in Iowa was bad for journalism. But it sure was good for Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden. Sanders, the authentic candidate on the left in this cycle, as he was in the last, was surging in the Iowa polls. Warren, also on the left, was fading, desperate and in full panic. She began waving her gender card on that dangerous Intersectionality Highway where Democrats, addicted to identity politics, often crack up. Just before the debate, CNN ran a story portraying Sanders as misogynist who thinks a woman couldn’t be elected president. That’s ridiculous. He doesn’t believe that. And at the CNN debate, moderator Abby Phillip took Warren’s gender card, fashioned it into a knife and stabbed Sanders just weeks before the Iowa caucuses.
- John Kass in Column: CNN’s shameful treatment of Bernie Sanders (16 January 2020)
- The Democratic base is energized for 2020. Sanders, who suffered a heart attack weeks ago, looks positively vital when compared to Biden. Conventional wisdom also once said Republican Jeb Bush couldn’t be beat. How did that turn out? Joe is the new Jeb. I suppose it would be much easier to focus instead on Trump impeachment theater in Washington. But the script has been written, the Senate won’t convict Trump. It’s all posture and gesture and fundraising. I disagree with Sanders’ policies, but at least he’s honest about what he wants to do. Establishment Democrats see Sanders’ base as full of energy and know they must stop him in Iowa and New Hampshire. They feed Warren so Sanders doesn’t defeat Biden. And they’ll use friendly media to shape a stiletto and slip it between Bernie’s ribs. Sanders’ voters have seen this one before.
- John Kass in Column: CNN’s shameful treatment of Bernie Sanders (16 January 2020)
- Since the presidential primary race began, the two senators — who have been friends since before Ms. Warren was elected to the Senate in 2012 — have abided by a de facto nonaggression pact, rarely criticizing one another and frequently acting as something of a populist tag team on the debate stage. And as Pete Buttigieg has risen in the polls and Joseph R. Biden Jr. has proved durable, Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren have been happy to demonstrate their left-wing bona fides by contrasting themselves with the more moderate contenders. Yet with Mr. Sanders enjoying a revival after his heart attack in October and Ms. Warren receding from her summer surge but wielding a formidable political organization in the first nominating states, it’s increasingly clear that their biggest obstacle to winning the Democratic nomination is each other. In Iowa and nationwide, they are the leading second-choice pick of the other’s supporters, a vivid illustration of the promise and the peril that progressives face going into 2020: After decades of losing intraparty battles, this race may represent their best chance to seize control from establishment-aligned Democrats, yet that is unlikely to happen so long as Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders are blocking each other from consolidating the left. For center-left Democrats, that’s exactly their hope — that the two senators divide votes in so many contests that neither is able to capture the nomination. Moderates in the party fear that if Ms. Warren or Mr. Sanders pull away — or if they ultimately join forces — the ticket would unnerve independent voters and go down in defeat against President Trump.
- Jonathan Martin in Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders Have a Problem: Each Other (16 December 2019)
- That progressives find themselves in this situation at all is extraordinary. Perhaps not since anti-establishment Democrats were choosing between two other left-leaning senators, Robert F. Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy, in 1968, have there been two such liberal titans in the same primary contest. Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren have capitalized on the leftward drift of many younger Democrats and the weakening of the party’s traditional gatekeepers. Indeed, Mr. Sanders’s surprising success in the 2016 presidential primary race represented something new: a left-wing hopeful with the money and the organization to sustain a long campaign.
- Jonathan Martin in Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders Have a Problem: Each Other (16 December 2019)
- For all their public praise for each other, Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders are not in frequent contact. They have not explicitly discussed any hands-off agreement, let alone considered any future unity effort. The last time they spoke, aides said, was a brief conversation last month in which Ms. Warren told him about her new health care plan and he politely noted he had a different view. But with 50 days until the Iowa caucuses, some of their admirers are hoping they will begin a dialogue.
- Jonathan Martin in Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders Have a Problem: Each Other (16 December 2019)
- The media largely have portrayed the dynamic... as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) rises, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) must fall... If you’re scouring campaign white papers you’re going to have trouble clearly laying out the difference between these two candidates, except by matters of degree. One is all in on “Medicare for all” and the other is all in on universal coverage, with Medicare for all as one of a range of good options. One wants to cancel all student debt; the other wants to cancel most student debt. You’ve got to look bigger-picture at their fundamental approach to politics and philosophy of political change. To state it simply: Sanders is a revolutionary and Warren is a reformer... Warren has been unequivocal that she is a capitalist and believes in markets. She identifies this as the most significant ideological split between her and Sanders.
- Sanders’ message of political revolution lands with a thud among those who are comfortable. Warren, Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and “not sure” all outperform Sanders among those earning more than $100,000... It makes sense, though, that those who have struggled the most under our system would be the most receptive to revolutionary change. Why maintain the rules of the current order when those rules have made your life a struggle?
- Krystal Ball inWarren the reformer v. Sanders the revolutionary, The Hill, (27 June 2019)
- The one overlap between Sanders and Warren is their relative appeal to young people. This stands in contrast to Biden, for whom the greatest predictor of support is age. The older you are, the more likely you are to be ridin’ with Biden. This suggests that the progressive tussle between Warren and Sanders is about more than a competition for Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) endorsement; it’s really about the future of the party... Already, progressives are setting the pace for new and popular policy ideas. Reformer, or revolutionary? The policies may be similar, but the results could be dramatically different.
- Krystal Ball inWarren the reformer v. Sanders the revolutionary, The Hill, (27 June 2019)
- Eliminates tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities and makes community college tuition- and fee-free for all.
- Cancels $1.6 trillion in student debt for 45 million Americans
- Ensures students can attend college debt free
- Ensures students can attend college debt free
- Eliminates or reduces tuition and fees for low-income students at private colleges and universities that serve historically underrepresented minorities
- Provides funding to eliminate equity gaps in higher education attainment
- Paid for by a tax on Wall Street speculation
- The estimated $2.2 trillion cost of this bill would be paid for by a tax on Wall Street speculation. During the financial crisis, Wall Street received the largest taxpayer bailout in the history of the United States. Now, it’s Wall Street’s turn to help rebuild the disappearing middle class. By imposing a small Wall Street speculation tax of just 0.5 percent on stock trades (that’s just 50 cents for every $100 worth of stock), a 0.1 percent fee on bonds, and a 0.005 percent fee on derivatives, we would raise up to $2.4 trillion over the next decade. More than 1,000 economists have endorsed a tax on Wall Street speculation and some 40 countries have already imposed a similar financial transactions tax, including Britain, Germany, France, Switzerland, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Brazil.
- Well, I think I should say before I say that, my understanding is that Senator Sanders now supports H.R. 40. I think that’s where we are now. So I’m obviously pretty pleased about that.... I think all of the things that Bernie Sanders... listed about paying attention to distressed communities should be done. And we should also have reparations. So, I don’t see those two things as in conflict... In fact, it was never clear to me why both can’t be on the agenda, why one can’t associate themselves with the massive gaps in the wealth, that don’t just exist in the African-American community, but exist in communities across the country, and at the same time recognize that there’s something specific about the gap in the African-American community that’s tied to the specificity of American history. But, you know, as I said, I’m happy Senator Sanders now supports H.R. 40.
You know, Joe Biden says that he’s been involved with civil rights his entire career. It’s worth remembering Joe Biden opposed busing and bragged about it, you know, in the 1970s. Joe Biden is on the record as being to the right of actually the New Democrats in the 1990s on the issue of mass incarceration, wanted more people sentenced to the death penalty, wanted more jails. And so, you know, I’m not surprised. I mean, this is who Joe Biden is.
- According to reports, Warren and Sanders are the only Democrats who aren’t meeting with Wall Street big wigs... They aren’t okay with bankers gambling away mom and pop pensions, and they aren’t okay with the Democratic Party being owned by the big banks, and that is a message that the American public desperately needs to hear.
- We see...Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and AOC ... they’re all out there saying, look, we need to do something about corporate greed... the way that they were involved with loans... Over the most of the 20th century... you had caps... And then all of a sudden there was deregulation. And when deregulation took place, all of this bad stuff started occurring. You know, Wall Street stole from mom and pop. The economy crashed.
- Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Bernie Sanders just put postal banking back where it belongs: high on the agenda of those who seek to create a just and equitable United States. On Thursday, the pair drew national attention with the announcement of their Loan Shark Prevention Act, a sweeping plan to “combat the predatory lending practices of America’s big banks and protect consumers who are burdened with exorbitant credit-card interest rates. The legislation imposes a 15 percent federal cap on interest rates and empowers individual states to establish lower limits.” ...modern-day loan sharks... work on Wall Street, where they make hundreds of millions...and head financial institutions like JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America...
Despite what the knee-jerk anti-government echo chamber may tell you, what Americans need now is banking that serves people, not the Wall Street speculators. American Postal Workers Union president Mark Dimondstein...says that the USPS can and should answer the call with “a nonprofit alternative to the big banks”...
- Most Americans think that regardless of who your parents are, you should have the right to a quality higher education. To this day, most Democrat politicians disagree...their political icons intone that “there’s not anything free in America.”...Sanders has always argued that quality higher education should be a right, not just for those whose parents have buildings named after them or can doctor a water polo picture.
- Common Dreams, Bernie Sanders and the Song of America, Thomas J. Adams, (25 April 2019)
- Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said he thinks everyone should have the right to vote – even the Boston Marathon bomber. Asked at a CNN town hall Monday night if he thought felons should be allowed to vote – even while they're incarcerated, not just after they're release – Sanders said the country needs more people to vote.
- “Sanders says the right to vote should be extended 'even for terrible people' like Boston Marathon bomber”, Veronica Rocha, CNN, speech at CNN Town Hall, Manchester, NH (22 April 2019)
- Days after Sen. Bernie Sanders's town hall hosted by Fox News revealed that many Fox viewers would support his Medicare for All plan, President Donald Trump's appointee in charge of Medicare appeared on the network in an apparent attempt at damage control. Seema Verma, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator, appeared on "Fox & Friends" on Wednesday to claim that Sanders's proposal would deliver worse health outcomes for Americans at a higher price than the current for-profit system—contrary to a number of studies from across the political spectrum. Media Matters labeled Verma's interview an intentional "smear" of the Vermont Independent senator's appearance and proposal.
- Common Dreams, [https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/04/17/just-after-sanders-revealed-fox-viewers-approval-medicare-all-trumps-medicare-chief Just After Sanders Revealed Fox Viewers' Approval of Medicare for All, Trump's Medicare Chief 'Smears' Program on Network, Julia Conley, (17 April 2019)
- Senator Sanders has the best voting record of any candidate on war and peace issues, especially on military spending. Opposing the oversized Pentagon budget, he has only voted for 3 out of 19 military spending bills since 2013. By this measure, no other candidate comes close, including Tulsi Gabbard. In other votes on war and peace, Sanders voted as requested by Peace Action 84% of the time from 2011 to 2016, despite some hawkish votes on Iran from 2011-2013.
In terms of stopping the war in Yemen, Sanders has been a hero. Over the past year, he and Senators Murphy and Lee have led a sustained effort to shepherd his historic War Powers bill on Yemen through the Senate. Congressman Ro Khanna, whom Sanders has chosen as one of his 4 campaign co-chairs, has led the parallel effort in the House.
- Medea Benjamin & Nicolas J S Davies War and Peace and the 2020 Presidential Candidates, Common Dreams (27 March 2019)
- Senate Democrats say they’re open to getting behind Sanders if he appears the strongest candidate a year from now. And there’s no whiff of an effort to deny him the nomination, according to interviews with more than 20 Democratic senators. It's not that the Democratic Caucus is rallying behind him; most of its members would prefer a more mainstream nominee, even if they're unwilling to say it at this point. But they're giving Sanders props for what he's accomplished and say if he's able to win the nomination, more power to him.
- Well, as you know, I was blessed to do over a hundred events for my dear brother [Bernie Sanders]. And this is the first time I’ve had a chance to publicly endorse him again, but yes, indeed. I’ll be in his corner that we’re going to win this time. And it has to do with the Martin Luther King like criteria of assessing a candidate namely the issues of militarism, poverty, materialism, and racism, xenophobia in all of its forms that includes any kind of racism as you know against black people, brown people, yellow people, anybody, Arabs, Muslims, Jews, Palestinians, Kashmirians, Tibetans and so forth. So that there’s no doubt that the my dear brother Bernie stands shoulders above any of the other candidates running in the Democratic primary when it comes to that Martin Luther King-like standards or criteria.
- He’s an anti-racist in his heart. Two, he’s old-school. He’s like me. He doesn’t know the buzzwords. He doesn’t endorse reparations, one moment in the last 30 years, silent on it. He has the consistency over the years decade after decade and therefore it’s true in his language, in his rhetoric. There are times in which he doesn’t... use the same kind of buzzwords. But when it comes to his fight against racism, going to jail in Chicago as a younger brother and he would go to jail again. He and I would go to jail together again in terms of fighting against police brutality. So in that sense, I would just tell my brothers and sisters, but especially my chocolate ones that they shouldn’t be blinded by certain kinds of words they’re looking for, that in the end, he is a long distance runner in the struggle against white supremacy.
- While the New York Times has been sandbagging Sen. Bernie Sanders (Ind.–Vermont) for years (Rolling Stone, 3/15/16), last weekend’s headline: “Bernie Sanders Is Making Changes for 2020..." (3/1/19) is a particularly overt example...
Unless one reads past the headline, which most Americans don’t, one is left wondering about what exactly Sanders desires to “control.”
- Is it the country? The media? When one actually digs into the Times’ article, written by Sydney Ember and Jonathan Martin, one quickly discovers that what Sanders desires to control is his own campaign, and that his oppressed victims were his highly paid media consultants, who quit because Sanders was “not willing to empower them.”
- Left unreported by the Times were statements by the consultants themselves (CNBC, 2/26/19) claiming that they were leaving on a “very positive note” over “differences in a creative vision,” and that they would be happy to assist his campaign again in the future. In the Times version, instead, we’re given anonymous sources described as “Democrats directly familiar with the episode” who give the impression the consultants were “enraged” over their “humiliation.”
- Joshua Cho in NYT’s ‘Desire for Control’ Over Political Perceptions, FAIR (6 March 2019)
- Some people are attached to the idea that the Democratic National Committee will “rig” the presidential nomination against Bernie Sanders. The meme encourages the belief that the Bernie 2020 campaign is futile because of powerful corporate Democrats. But such fatalism should be discarded. As Frederick Douglass said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” Of course top Democratic Party officials don’t intend to give up control. It has to be taken from them. And the conditions for doing that are now more favorable than ever... progressives have organized effectively during the last two years...
- Norman Solomon, https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/03/04/big-obstacle-bernie-isnt-dnc-rigging-its-media-trashing The Big Obstacle for Bernie Isn't DNC "Rigging"—It's Media Trashing, Common Dreams] (4 March 2019)
- Days ago, when Bernie Sanders launched his campaign with a big rally in Brooklyn, the MSNBC coverage was so slanted that an assessment from Glenn Greenwald appeared under the headline “MSNBC Yet Again Broadcasts Blatant Lies, This Time About Bernie Sanders...” Greenwald’s critique of MSNBC [below] focused on flagrantly inaccurate anti-Sanders commentary from a former Hillary Clinton aide that immediately followed the senator’s Brooklyn speech... The coverage prompted an email from FAIR founder (and my colleague) Jeff Cohen to an MSNBC vice president: “You have no trouble finding hardcore Clintonite Bernie-bashers; please offer some balance in your analysts. In today’s Democratic Party, there’s clearly more sympathy for Bernie than the Clintons—but not on MSNBC.”
It’s worth noting that the (Washington) Post is owned by the world’s richest person, Jeff Bezos, while MSNBC is owned by Comcast, “the world’s largest entertainment company.”
To counteract the media propaganda arsenal now in place, we should fully recognize that arsenal as the main weaponry that corporate power will deploy against the Bernie 2020 campaign. We must confront those corporate media forces while vastly strengthening independent progressive media work of all kinds.
- Norman Solomon, https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/03/04/big-obstacle-bernie-isnt-dnc-rigging-its-media-trashing The Big Obstacle for Bernie Isn't DNC "Rigging"—It's Media Trashing, Common Dreams] (4 March 2019)
- MSNBC... systematically and deliberately refuses to adopt a defining attribute of a news outlet: a willingness to acknowledge factual errors, correct them, and apologize. That they not only allow their lies to stand uncorrected but reward their employees who do it most frequently — especially when those lies are directed at adversaries of the Democratic Party — proves that they are, first and foremost, a political arm of the Democratic establishment... On Saturday in Brooklyn, Bernie Sanders delivered his first speech for his 2020 presidential campaign in front of thousands of people. MSNBC broadcast the speech live, and anyone can watch the full two-hour event, or just Sanders’s full 35-minute speech, on YouTube. As a result, there’s no confusion possible about what was said. Everyone can see it with their own eyes... As I’ve repeatedly documented, lying about adversaries of the Democratic establishment is not merely tolerated or permitted at MSNBC, but is encouraged and rewarded... They purposely had the very first person to comment on Sanders’s kickoff campaign speech be a paid Clinton 2016 campaign official highly embittered toward Sanders...
- The ferocity of media attacks on him often indicates that corporate power brokers are afraid his strong progressive populism is giving effective voice to majority views of the public... The overarching fear that defenders of oligarchy have about Bernie Sanders is not that he’s out of step with most Americans — it’s that he’s in step with them. For corporate elites determined to retain undemocratic power, a successful Bernie 2020 campaign would be the worst possible outcome of the election.
- Norman Solomon in Bernie 2020 Campaign Has Corporate Democrats Running Scared, CounterPunch (14 February 2019)
- Trump would have us believe that these are our only two choices: We can either have smash-and-grab capitalism, where so many hands in the cookie jar has resulted in so many government scandals, and where the top 1 percent have more wealth than the bottom 90 percent, or we can have what’s happening in Venezuela, where the economy has collapsed and humanitarian and political crises have ensued...
- Trump’s dig on socialism means he’s scared, Ocasio-Cortez said after his speech. What really scares the pro-plutocrats on both sides of the political aisle about her, [Bernie] Sanders and other democratic socialists is that they have become messengers for a compelling message with an actual vision — the simple idea that it’s up to government to intervene and equalize the playing field between the capital that owns the politicians, the system and the rewards, and the general public toiling to provide those rewards.
- Sanders' new 'For the 99.8% Act' is squarely aimed at preventing the children of today's billionaires from dominating our future democracy, economy, culture and philanthropy.... The Republicans can’t control their baser greed impulse, as revealed in their latest move to abolish the federal estate tax, our nation’s only levy on the inherited wealth of the super-rich. Congress should jump on board an improved estate tax introduced today by Senator Bernie Sanders, that would levy a top rate of 77 percent on inheritances over $1 billion. Sanders bill, The For 99.8% Act (summary), would also plug up loopholes and ban trusts that wealthy families use to hide and perpetuate wealth dynasties
- The estate tax, established by Congress a century ago to put a brake on the build-up of concentrated wealth and power, is paid only by a miniscule sliver of billionaires and multi-millionaires. At the time, Theodore Roosevelt supported the estate tax as a protection against the “tyranny of plutocracy.” Sanders estate tax proposal is a plutocracy prevention act, squarely aimed at preventing the children of today’s billionaires from dominating our future democracy, economy, culture and philanthropy.
- Chuck Collins in Bernie's Plutocracy Prevention Act, Common Dreams (31 January 2019)
- Sen. Bernie Sanders is introducing a bill to increase the estate tax on the nation's billionaires to a rate of 77 percent. Sanders would like to get back there: Under his plan, estates between $3.5 million and $10 million would be taxed at 45 percent; estates between $10 million and $50 million would be taxed at 50 percent; and estates between $50 million and $1 billion would be taxed at 55 percent. Estates of people with more than a billion dollars to their name would be taxed at 77 percent. Sanders said the bill would affect the richest 0.2 percent of earners. Sanders’ proposal also would get rid of some of the tax shelters and dodges that the wealthy use to get out of paying the estate tax. That move echoes policy proposals from Warren and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.). Each has included reforms to estate tax loopholes as funding mechanisms for other legislative proposals. Sanders said his act already has the approval of economists including Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Robert Reich.
- If Bernie Sanders had an ounce of [Michael] Avenatti’s fearlessness, he would’ve been the Democratic nominee, and we would have had a much tougher time beating him. Now, I don’t believe a professional politician is going to be there at the end of the day. I’ve always said it’s going to be someone like Oprah, or Avenatti, or somebody that’s more media-savvy that’s going to be there.
- Steve Bannon (in an interview with Bill Maher) as quoted by Langois, Shawn (30 September 2018). "Michael Avenatti, a legitimate candidate in 2020? Steve Bannon seems to think so". MarketWatch. Retrieved on 30 September 2018.
- In fairness, Sanders ran a surprisingly effective campaign tapping the same anti-establishment fury Donald Trump stirred. Although Sanders and Trump are very different, their campaigns were not. Each treated Hillary Clinton as a compromised, Wall Street–worshipping, Establishment sellout. Both demonized Washington insiders and free trade, rather than tackling the real structural problem: the United States deindustrialized because Americans refuse to pay what it costs to hire American workers and instead buy cheaper imported products. As a result, just as Ralph Nader siphoned tens of thousands of votes on Election Day 2000 in Florida from Al Gore, causing the deadlock and George W. Bush’s victory, Bernie Sanders’ similar vampire effect enfeebled Hillary Clinton.
- Gil Troy in And the 2016 Ralph Nader Award Goes to... Bernie Sanders (14 November 2016)
- This year replayed that Insurgent’s Vampire Effect. Clinton expected to inherit the nomination without serious opponents. Joe Biden and John Kerry, each of whom sees a potential president whenever he looks in the mirror, didn’t run, deferring to the Clintons’ power in the party and to Hillary Clinton’s claim that it was “our time” as women to win the presidency—an appeal that, surprisingly, bored younger women. As an independent, Sanders lacked such loyalty. His hip campaign addressed the displaced and disempowered, claiming Hillary Clinton was the problem not the solution. In response, Hillary Clinton channeled Walter Mondale in 1984, desperately appealing to different special interests.
- Gil Troy in And the 2016 Ralph Nader Award Goes to... Bernie Sanders (14 November 2016)
- Pressed by the Sanders Sensation, intimidated by Black Lives Matter, even Bill Clinton backpedaled, apologizing for fighting crime and his centrist legacy. With no one explaining how bad crime was in the 1990s, how dysfunctional the welfare system was, how two-thirds of blacks supported both initiatives, Clinton’s legislation seemed draconian. Hillary Clinton became a doughnut candidate, sprinkling sweets to particular groups but lacking any core. That distortion made her the perfect foil for Donald Trump’s demagoguery. Sanders liberals considered Clintonian centrism not liberal enough, not minority-sensitive enough, not pure enough. The result is a president-elect hostile to liberalism, unafraid of demonizing minorities and epitomizing a killer instinct that makes Clintonian triangulation look naïve. All this makes Bernie Sanders the Ralph Nader of 2016.
- Gil Troy in And the 2016 Ralph Nader Award Goes to... Bernie Sanders (14 November 2016)
- Bernie Sanders, a self-professed socialist who is almost as extreme in his own way as Trump is. I don't “feel the Bern” and I can't make common cause with those who do.
- Max Boot The Republican Party is dead. Los Angeles Times (8 May 2016).
- It's very likely Hillary Clinton will still prevail in the Democratic Party. Bernie Sanders, though, has had a remarkable showing, particularly among young people.
- Jimmy Carter to the House of Lords, when asked about the 2016 United States presidential election. As quoted in Jimmy Carter: I would choose Donald Trump over Ted Cruz (February 3, 2016) by Stephanie Condon, CBS News
- Bernie Sanders [is] doing good and courageous things. He’s organizing a lot of people. That campaign ought to be directed to sustaining a popular movement that will use the election as a kind of an incentive and then go on, and unfortunately it’s not. When the election’s over, the movement is going to die. And that’s a serious error. ... The only thing that’s going to ever bring about any meaningful change is ongoing, dedicated, popular movements that don’t pay attention to the election cycle.
- Noam Chomsky, as reported in “Noam Chomsky’s First Campaign Contribution Was To Bernie Sanders,” Huffington Post, (22 January 2016)
- Well, Bernie Sanders is an extremely interesting phenomenon. He’s a decent, honest person. That’s pretty unusual in the political system. Maybe there are two of them in the world, you know. But he’s considered radical and extremist, which is a pretty interesting characterization, because he’s basically a mainstream New Deal Democrat. His positions would not have surprised President Eisenhower, who said, in fact, that anyone who does not accept New Deal programs doesn’t belong in the American political system. That’s now considered very radical.
- Noam Chomsky, as interviewed on Democracy Now, 28 April 2016
- Sanders ... has mobilized a large number of young people, these young people who are saying, "Look, we're not going to consent anymore." And if that turns into a continuing, organized, mobilized force, that could change the country.
- Noam Chomsky, as interviewed on Democracy Now, 28 April 2016, 3:56
- Sanders’ modus operandi and avowed lack of experience in the real world of profits, loss, and investment leaves him at something of a loss when it comes to talking about the economy. His plans for everything from reforming health care to boosting economic growth and providing free college tend to have an air of unreality about them. As a result, mainstream economists and business leaders aren’t feeling the Bern.
- Daniel Gross (28 February 2016) How Bernie Sanders, the Socialist, Quietly Entered the Top 4% of Earners, Fortune.com
- By winning white working-class voters and making inroads with minority voters, Sanders is moving beyond an elite and generational candidate, and forcing Clinton to address reform in a much bolder way, says Greenberg, who was the Clintons’ pollster in their first bid for the White House in 1992. Clinton says she’s a progressive who gets things done, and that she won’t make promises she can’t keep, a message while admirable is not inspirational. "This is not a practical election, this is a change election," says Greenberg. And so far it is Sanders who has capitalized on the hunger for change, while Clinton has relied on her long history of championing liberal causes to resonate with voters, many too young to appreciate what she fought for. Sanders began the way Gene McCarthy did in ’68 with support that was educated and young, and with a focus on the economy, the issue that matters most to these voters. The coming weeks will tell us whether Clinton can revamp her message to meet the moment, and whether she can continue to win minority voters with the same spirit of hopefulness that Robert Kennedy’s too short candidacy symbolized. Otherwise, she risks that mantle being grabbed by Sanders.
- Eleanor Clift in Is Hillary Clinton-Bernie Sanders The New RFK-Eugene McCarthy? (27 February 2016)
- I've been very concerned about his lack of knowledge.
- Madeleine Albright, as quoted in Madeleine Albright Slams Sanders on Foreign Policy While Supporting Clinton (6 February 2016)
- Bernie Sanders, who at least acknowledges our economic reality and refuses to accept corporate money for his presidential campaign, plays the role of the Democratic Party’s court jester. No doubt to remain a member of the court, he will not condemn the perfidy and collaboration with corporate power that define Obama, Hillary and Bill Clinton and the Democratic Party. He accepts that criticism of empire is taboo.
- He continues, even as the party elites rig the primaries against him, to make a mockery of democratic participation, to hold up the Democrats as a tool for change. He will soon be urging his supporters to vote for Hillary Clinton, actively working as an impediment to political mobilization and an advocate for political lethargy. Sanders, whose promise of a political revolution is as hollow as competing campaign slogans, will be rewarded for his duplicity. He will be allowed to keep his seniority in the Democratic caucus. The party will not mount a campaign in Vermont to unseat him from the U.S. Senate. He will not, as he has feared, end up a pariah like Ralph Nader. But he, like everyone else in the establishment, will have sold us out.
- Chris Hedges, "The Graveyard of the Elites," Truthdig, 28 February 2016
- The Clinton campaign just made a serious mistake. They sent Hillary and Bill Clinton’s daughter Chelsea out on behalf of her mother to bash Senator Bernie Sanders on the issue of health care. What’s so wrong with that? Don’t all candidates use family surrogates when and where they can? The Kennedys, for example, deployed a horde of kinfolk for Jack’s campaign for president, then Bobby’s, then Teddy’s. But when it’s the first time (as this was for Clinton the younger), the surrogate should be sure whereof she speaks, and had better stick to talking about her candidate, not the opponent. Unfortunately, Chelsea Clinton misrepresented Senator Sanders’ position, and her premiere performance on the stump backfired, producing a flood of political donations to Sanders.
- Bill Moyers & Michael Winship, Tell the Truth about Bernie’s Health Care Stand, Common Dreams, (16 January 2016)
- Rather than “strip” millions and millions of people of their health insurance, he wants to be sure millions and millions of people actually get health insurance. This was Sanders’ position as far back as 1993 when newly-elected President Bill Clinton put First Lady Hillary Clinton in charge of reforming our disheveled and unjust health care system. Her task force huffed and puffed in secret for months, calling in legions of experts and academics, ultimately producing a plan so complicated and impenetrable – not to mention unexplainable – that it would have collapsed of its own ponderous weight even if the Republicans had not propagandized it into a laughing stock of pretensions and inefficiencies that could only make matters worse.
- Bill Moyers & Michael Winship, Tell the Truth about Bernie’s Health Care Stand, Common Dreams, (16 January 2016)
- All these years later, Sanders is still fighting the battle for single payer, Medicare-like coverage for all, even as fellow Democrats capitulated to the siren songs of the health and insurance industries. President Obama, himself a one-time advocate of single payer coverage, buckled to the insurance companies and its lobbyists and minions in Congress and agreed to health care legislation (the Affordable Care Act) that would continue to treat healing the sick as a profit center instead of a basic human right.
- Bill Moyers & Michael Winship, Tell the Truth about Bernie’s Health Care Stand, Common Dreams, (16 January 2016)
- Markets are unsettled because of geopolitical risks, the slowdown in China, and because Bernie Sanders has become a viable candidate.
- Steve Schwarzman, interview with the The Wall Street Journal (24 January 2016). 
- I have been a conservative Republican my entire life. But the Republican Party as a whole has gotten so far out of touch with the American people. I switched my registration so that I could vote for Sanders in the primary, but the day the primary is over I'm going to register as an independent.
- Bryan Brown, as quoted in "The Lifelong Republicans Who Love Bernie Sanders: Some conservatives are defying expectation and backing the Vermont senator" (November 2015), by Clare Foran, The Atlantic
- Bernie Sanders finished Outsider in the House, the original 1997 edition of this book, with a chapter titled "Where Do We Go From Here?" He was serious about the "we" part, offering up a movement agenda that anticipated the message he would carry into the U.S. Senate and ultimately into presidential politics: "rid the country of any vestige of racism, sexism, and homophobia"; establish a "progressive tax policy" in order to close the "obscene and terrifying" gap between rich and poor; guarantee "health care for all through a single-payer system"; end "race-to-the-bottom" trade policies and assaults on workers; "rebuild America" with massive investments in communities and schools and job creation; begin "addressing forthrightly the problem of corporate control of the media"; and instigate sweeping reforms "to ensure that votes and not money determined which direction our leaders take." As for himself, however, Sanders simply wrote, "There is much to do, and for an Independent there is no established trail to follow"...Bernie Sanders knows a few things that more cautious politicians will never understand. Sometimes the outsiders win. Sometimes the left wing of the possible simply becomes the possible. Sometimes, political revolutions occur in cities, in states, and perhaps even nations.
- John Nichols Afterward in Outsider in the White House (2015)
- I hope Bernie Sanders is the destruction of the Democratic Party. It's time to break up the two party dictatorship.
- Jesse Ventura on CNN with Don Lemon, as quoted in Chris Enloe (7 October 2015), "Jesse Ventura Wants to Destroy the Political Establishment and He's Named Two Guys to Do It", IJ Review
- If Bernie Sanders wins he'll be the first socialist elected president since 2008.
- Jay Leno, monologue on NBC's The Tonight Show (6 October 2015)
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