Campaigning With Bernie, Then and Now
| May 27, 2015 | 8:38 pm | Bernie Sanders, political struggle | No comments
Why Labor Should Give Sanders Strong Primary Election Support

Campaigning With/ Bernie, Then and Now

Source: CounterPunch
5/27/15
by STEVE EARLY
When I first met Brooklyn-born Bernie Sanders, he was a pretty marginal figure in his adopted state of Vermont. It was 1976 and he was running, unsuccessfully and for the fourth time, as a candidate of the Liberty Union Party (LUP).
Never heard of it? Well that’s understandable because only Vermonters are still afflicted with its enduring flakiness. Liberty Union (LUP) was a radical third party spearheaded by opponents of the Vietnam War who had, like Bernie, washed up in the Green Mountain State as “the Sixties”
At its historic peak, the LUP garnered maybe 5 or 6 percent of the statewide vote for some of its more presentable candidates. In short, nothing like the winning margins racked up in recent years, in state legislative races, by the far more savvy and effective Vermont Progressive Party (VPP). The VPP now boasts a ten-member delegation in Montpelier, the state capital, and attracts growing union support.
During Bernie’s quixotic mid-70s bid to become governor, I accompanied him to a meeting of local granite cutters, teamsters, and electrical workers. This was not a “flatlander” crowd, nor one dominated by full-time union officials. His audience was native-Vermonters, some of them Republican, who were still punching a clock at local quarries, trucking companies, and machine tool factories in an era when the future home state of Ben & Jerry’s and Vermont Teddy Bear Co. still had impressive blue collar union density.
These local union delegates had come together to make candidate endorsements under the banner of the Vermont Labor Forum, a coalition of non-AFL-CIO unions. So Bernie delivered what is now known– due to its unchanging nature over the last four decades—as “The Speech.” (For one of its longer iterations, in hard copy form, see his 2011 book by the same name.) Sanders’ message to the Labor Forum was that corporations were too powerful, workers were getting screwed, and both major parties were beholden to “the bosses” (or, as Bernie might call them today, “the billionaire class,” a social category not yet invented forty years ago).
Lesser Evilism, Then and Now
Sanders’ appeal for working class support in 1976 seemed most persuasive to rank-and-file representatives of the United Electrical Workers (UE). They were, of course, members of a left-led national organization, which had long favored “independent political action.” However, in deference to their more cautious colleagues, the UE members politely went along with the Labor Forum majority, which, per usual, voted to endorse Vermont Democrats that year, despite Liberty Union’s far greater degree of union friendliness.
This labor tendency to gravitate, in conservative fashion, toward the least problematic of the two major parties is still with us today, of course. Every election cycle—in every part of the country—AFL-CIO unions and unaffiliated labor organizations make pragmatic calculations about who to endorse and spend money on. Rarely do they take a chance on third party candidates, no matter how ardent their support for labor causes. Even a union rank-and-filer who runs against a corporate Democrat (for example, Howie Hawkins, the blue-collar Green who challenged Andrew Cuomo for governor of New York last year) finds it hard to collect labor endorsements.
A few union leaders have issued recent threats to withhold future support from Democrats who back President Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership deal but Hillary Clinton certainly won’t be punished in that fashion. By the 2016 general election—and much sooner, in the case of some national unions—organized labor will be in full “lesser evil” mode once again. The only place in the nation next year where union members will have viable, pro-labor third party candidates to support, at least at the state and local level, is Vermont. And, for that, the U.S. labor movement has Bernie Sanders and other Vermont Progressives to thank.
When Sanders comes knocking on their door, looking for support in his presidential primary challenge, trade unionists in other states should remember his long history of helping Vermont workers get their act together, in politics, organizing, and contract strikes. It’s a track record that few “friends of labor” can match.
A Choice, Not An Echo
Bernie got his own electoral act together by “going local” in 1981. Instead of persisting as a fringe candidate in futile statewide races, he joined a four-way contest for mayor of Burlington, Vermont’s largest city. His successful campaign was backed by the Burlington Police Officers Association, which provided a key endorsement and funding after a contract dispute with the incumbent mayor, a five-term Democrat. Sanders won by ten votes.
As mayor, Bernie immediately hired a new human resources director for Burlington. This union-friendly lawyer worked to improve relations between city hall and local cops, firefighters, and other municipal workers represented by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). During his four terms in Burlington, Sanders continued to champion the cause of workers, tenants, the poor, and unemployed, while revitalizing the city.
“I was fighting for working families,” he recalled in a 2014 interview. “We were paying attention to low and moderate income neighborhoods rather than just downtown or the big-money interests. In fact, I went to war with virtually every part of the ruling class in Burlington during my years as mayor. “ The result, according to Sanders, was that  “large numbers of people who previously had not participated in the political process got involved.”  Sanders supporters won up to six seats on the city council and campaigned as the Progressive Coalition, forerunner of the statewide Progressive Party founded in 1999.
National Union Hesitancy
But even a left-wing independent with a laudable record of labor advocacy, at the municipal level, found it hard to attract national union backing for higher-level challenges to both major parties. In 1988, major unions ignored Sanders when he ran for Congress against a Democrat and Republican. The latter won, but two years later, Bernie ran again and ousted the GOP incumbent, with more union support this time. Only gradually and very slowly has the country’s longest serving independent in Congress received the kind of national union funding that he should have gotten from the very beginning. (For details and a useful comparison with Hillary Clinton’s top donors, see here.)
On Capitol Hill, Sanders blazed a trail not followed since Vito Marcantonio served six terms in Congress as the lonely tribune of the NYC-based American Labor Party in the 1940s. Fifty years later, Sanders helped create a left pole for mainstream labor’s soon-to-be-thwarted campaign to reform the National Labor Relations Act during the Clinton Administration. He introduced a “’Workplace Democracy Act’ to comprehensively reform and strengthen workers’ rights…to improve living standards for American workers, which have fallen precipitously.” Sanders also promoted the idea of “economic conversion”—converting Pentagon-dependent manufacturing firms into producers of socially useful goods–a cause since downplayed or abandoned by major industrial unions themselves.
Back in Vermont, Bernie used his Congressional office to help workers get better organized, in their workplaces and communities, even when the labor movement lagged behind in both areas. Sanders not only urged Vermonters to “Vote Yes” in union representation elections, he actually convened annual meetings of local labor activists to help them develop more successful organizing and bargaining strategies, in the private and public sector. To stimulate new rank-and-file thinking, Sanders and his staff invited out-of-state labor speakers who were part of national efforts to revitalize organized labor. He has been a staunch and longtime ally of the Vermont Workers Center, the statewide community-labor coalition that fights for single payer healthcare, immigrants’ rights, paid sick leave, and other working class causes in the Green Mountain State.
Which Side Are We On?
When Verizon workers that I represented in Vermont opposed the company’s sale of its northern New England landline operations in 2006, Bernie was campaigning for the U.S. Senate seat that he now holds. He held a public forum highlighting the reasons for our “Stop The Sale” campaign and brokered a meeting with the proposed buyer, FairPoint Communications, that enabled us to confront its top managers about their company’s record of anti-unionism elsewhere. More recently, as labor opponents of the sale predicted, Verizon’s successor has floundered financially and tried to impose contract concessions on its workforce of several thousand. During their four-month strike last year, FairPoint union members had no stronger political ally, in public and behind the scenes, than Bernie Sanders.
Bernie’s four decades of active engagement with workers’ struggles in Vermont has provided a model for the Vermont Progressive Party’s own strong labor orientation. The VPP’s elected steering committee now includes key union activists in Vermont; its public office holders–on the Burlington City Council and in the state legislature—regularly join union members at strike picket-lines, rallies, and press conferences where Democrats and Republicans are, of course, rarely to be found. Members of my own union and others have been recruited to run as candidates for what has become the country’s most successful state-level third party. (For more on this trend, see here.)
It’s an axiom of labor solidarity that help received, in a period of need, will be reciprocated, down the road, in similar fashion. Vermont union members learned long ago that the mutual benefit derived from their work with and for Bernie Sanders goes far beyond the results of labor’s usual (and sometimes tawdry) transactional relationships with public office holders. That’s why trade unionists in Vermont have turned out for Sanders as much as he’s been there for them over the years. Let’s hope that their union brothers and sisters, in other Democratic primary states, will be able to figure out which side they should be on, without the benefit of such long personal association.
It’s promising that many rank-and-file activists have already signed up to join the “Labor Campaign for Bernie“. And, of course, the Vermont State Labor Council is urging the national AFL-CIO to support him as “the strongest candidate articulating our issues.”
But, if the rest of organized labor just plays it cautious and safe, jumping on the Clinton bandwagon instead of rallying around Bernie, it will be one more sign of diminished union capacity for mounting any kind of worker self-defense, on the job or in politics.
Steve Early is a resident of the San Francisco Bay Area currently working on a book about progressive municipal policy making there and elsewhere. He is the author, most recently, of Save Our Unions (Monthly Review Press, 2013). He can be reached at Lsupport@aol.com
The Corporate Media Would Like You to Think Bernie Sanders Can’t Win
| May 27, 2015 | 8:35 pm | Bernie Sanders, political struggle | No comments

Thu May 21, 2015 at 06:01 PM PDT

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/05/22/1386790/-The-Corporate-Media-Would-Like-You-to-Think-Bernie-Sanders-Can-t-Win

byTh0rn

The corporate media would like you to think Bernie Sanders can’t win the Democratic primary against Hillary Clinton. And they’re doing their damnedest to make their own preference into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The Columbia Journalism Review looks at how the media is covering Bernie Sanders’ entry into the 2016 presidential race, and it isn’t pretty. They start with comparisons to the out-of-touch press coverage of the Truman-Dewey race (culminating in the humiliatingly wrong headline in the Chicago Tribune: “Dewey defeats Truman” ), and go from there:

[You] could not have been surprised by the reception Bernie Sanders got last month when he entered the race for the Democratic nomination for the presidency. Sanders…quaintly maintains that people and the planet are more important than profit. Not long ago such beliefs fell well within the waters of the main stream where politicians swam, but the current has since been rerouted, and Sanders now paddles hard against the left bank. For not going with the flow, and for challenging Hillary Clinton, the big fish many elites have tagged as their own, Sanders’s entry into the race was greeted with story after story whose message—stated or understated, depending on the decorum of the messenger—was “This crank can’t win.”The trouble with this consensus is the paucity of evidence to support it. “This crank actually could win” is nearer the mark. But having settled on a prophecy, the media went about covering Sanders so as to fulfill it. The Times, for example, buried his announcement on page A21, even though every other candidate who had declared before then had been put on the front page above the fold. Sanders’s straight-news story didn’t even crack 700 words, compared to the 1,100 to 1,500 that Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Hillary Clinton got. As for the content, the Times’ reporters declared high in Sanders’s piece that he was a long shot for the Democratic nomination and that Clinton was all but a lock. None of the Republican entrants got the long-shot treatment, even though Paul, Rubio, and Cruz were generally polling fifth, seventh, and eighth among Republicans before they announced.

Other coverage of Sanders ran to caricature, as in Paul Kane and Philip Rucker’s personality piece in the Washington Post, which opened, “He seems an unlikely presidential candidate—an ex-hippie, septuagenarian socialist from the liberal reaches of Vermont who rails, in his thick Brooklyn accent, rumpled suit and frizzy pile of white hair, against the ‘billionaire class’ taking over the country.” The Post’s pieces didn’t lead with Clinton’s hippie past or her age (she will be a septuagenarian in 2017) and didn’t say she rails when she discusses her more ardently held positions….

Other major news organizations ignored Sanders as nearly as they could a sitting U.S. senator who entered the presidential race. ABC’s World News Tonight gave his announcement all of 18 seconds, five of which were allotted to Clinton’s tweet welcoming him to the race. CBS Evening News fitted the announcement into a single sentence at the end of a two-minute report about Clinton.

The usual excuse for this sort of coverage is that Sanders is a long-shot. But that hasn’t stopped the media from covering other long-shot candidates in an even-handed way:

Ted Cruz, for example, received his serious, in-depth treatment in the Times’ news columns even as its analysts were writing pieces like “Why Ted Cruz Is Such A Long Shot.”

Why the difference in type of coverage for Sanders versus all the others, even the fringiest fringe candidates crowded onto the running boards of the Republican clown car?

The difference is that Cruz has not erected a platform whose planks present a boardwalk of horror to the corporate class atop the media.

As CJR points out, this narrative of he can’t win, while it might be convenient to the corporate owners of the media and of much of the political process, has no actual historical validity at all.

I’ll skip lightly over the conspicuous fact that any frontrunner can have a Chappaquiddick, a deceptively amplified “scream,” or a plane crash. Instead, let me dwell on the simple fact that over the last 40 years, out of seven races in which the Democratic nomination was up for grabs—races, that is, when a sitting Democrat president wasn’t seeking reelection—underdogs have won the nomination either three or four times (depending on your definition of an underdog) and have gone on to win the presidency more often than favored candidates.

Jimmy Carter wasn’t even on anyone’s radar at this point in the campaign and polled at 1 percent among Democratic voters. But he won, because the other candidates were insiders, and voters had had it up to here with insiders.

If you don’t see a parallel to the present moment—a discontented time of Occupy, Black Lives Matter, Moral Monday, Fight for $15, the People’s Climate March, Move to Amend, and other anti-establishmentarian agitation—you’re either asleep or a publisher.

Likewise Michael Dukakis, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama were dark horses who came out of nowhere, polling-wise, this early in the game, to win their respective races.So, don’t be so quick to swallow what your corporate media overlords are trying to feed you. Don’t brush off a Sanders run as some sort of ridiculous impossibility.

As Sanders says, “Don’t underestimate me.” He’s in it to win, and the history might be more on his side than the corporate media would like you to know.

Bernie gives ‘em hell on CNBC
| May 27, 2015 | 8:32 pm | Bernie Sanders, political struggle | No comments

Tue May 26, 2015 at 09:38 AM PDT

byquince

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/05/26/1387851/-Bernie-gives-em-hell-on-CNBC

Bernie Sanders continued bringing the truth to the media world on CNBC’s John Harwood.

“I think it’s sick, and I think these people are so greedy. They’re so out of touch with reality, and they think they own the world, and the idea that me or anybody else are challenging them and saying maybe, just maybe, there’s something wrong with 99% of all new income going to the top 1%. Oh, this is Hitlerism to suggest that? What a disgusting remark. If you’ve seen a massive transfer of wealth from the middle-class to the top one ten of one percent, in our view, you ought to transfer that back. When radical socialist Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, I think the highest marginal tax rate was ninety percent or something like that.”

Let me answer it this way, John. I think there is obviously an enormously important role for the free market and for entrepreneurial activity. I worry how free the free market is. In sector after sector, you have a small number of companies controlling a large part of the sector.Certainly, in my view, the major banks should be broken up. We want entrepreneurs and private businesses to create wealth. No problem. But what we’re living in now is what I would call—what Pope Francis calls—a casino-type capitalism, which is out of control, where the people on top have lost any sense of responsibility for the rest of the society. Where it’s just “It’s all me. It’s all me. And to heck with anybody else.” I want to see the result of that wealth go to the broad middle class of this country and not just to a handful of people.

Bernie Sanders blows Wolf Blitzer’s mind with a simple idea
| May 27, 2015 | 8:27 pm | Bernie Sanders, political struggle | No comments

Fri May 22, 2015 at 12:40 PM PDT

Bernie Sanders blows Wolf Blitzer’s mind with a simple idea ( guess it doesn’t take much)

bytvdude

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/05/22/1387025/-Bernie-Sanders-blows-Wolf-Blitzer-s-mind-with-a-simple-idea-guess-it-doesn-t-take-much?detail=email

Who says Bernie Sanders can’t win?  If he keeps coming up with simple mind blowing ideas like he did on CNN the other day , he is going to win a lot of votes!  Simple yes, mind blowing, only if you are an elite pundit like Wolf Blitzer who apparently doesn’t get out much…  More after the psychedlic squiggly…..

On a May 19 CNN broadcast with Blitzer, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders unveiled a plan to eliminate college tuition by taxing Wall Street speculation.
Sounds pretty simple and straight forward doesn’t it?  Yet, Blitzer just couldn’t wrap his mind around it…..  watch……https://www.youtube.com/…

Blitzer asked time and again, ” you mean you are going to tax Wall Street? as if he just heard that aliens had landed on the White House lawn.  Yes Sanders replied over and over again.  A small tax on transference of money that will in all likelihood raise about 300 billion dollars, more than enough to keep our college grads from starting out life deep in debt.

I confess I don’t know much about Wall Street operations ( I just know they are crooks)

but maybe another Kossack who knows about this can explain it.   I just know that it is a simple plan, and apparently would work.

It is so refreshing to hear a politician talk directly about how he or she would fix a problem. It is apparently so rare that it caught Wolf Blitzer off guard.  Thank God we have Bernie in the race! He is going to bring a breath of fresh air into the campaign that with Bush and Clinton on the horizon, so desperately needs it!

By the way, who says he can’t win??

Remarks by Sen. Bernie Sanders at May 26 Kick off of his Presidential Campaign
| May 26, 2015 | 7:34 pm | Bernie Sanders, political struggle | No comments
Remarks by Sen. Bernie Sanders
May 26, 2015
Burlington, VT
“Thank you all very much for being here and for all the support that you have given me over the years: as the mayor of this great city, as Vermont’s only congressman and now as a U.S. senator. Thanks also to my longtime friends and fellow Vermonters Bill McKibben, Brenda Torpey, Donna Bailey, Mike O’Day and Ben and Jerry for all that you do – and for your very generous remarks. Thanks also to Jenny Nelson for moderating this event and for your leadership in Vermont agriculture.
I also want to thank my family: My wife Jane, my brother Larry, my children Levi, Heather, Carina and Dave for their love and support, and my seven beautiful grandchildren – Sonny, Cole, Ryleigh, Grayson, Ella, Tess and Dylan who provide so much joy in my life.
Today, here in our small state – a state that has led the nation in so many ways – I am proud to announce my candidacy for president of the United States of America.
Today, with your support and the support of millions of people throughout this country, we begin a political revolution to transform our country economically, politically, socially and environmentally.
Today, we stand here and say loudly and clearly that; “Enough is enough. This great nation and its government belong to all of the people, and not to a handful of billionaires, their Super-PACs and their lobbyists.”
Brothers and sisters: Now is not the time for thinking small. Now is not the time for the same old – same old establishment politics and stale inside-the-beltway ideas.
Now is the time for millions of working families to come together, to revitalize American democracy, to end the collapse of the American middle class and to make certain that our children and grandchildren are able to enjoy a quality of life that brings them health, prosperity, security and joy – and that once again makes the United States the leader in the world in the fight for economic and social justice, for environmental sanity and for a world of peace.
My fellow Americans: This country faces more serious problems today than at any time since the Great Depression and, if you include the planetary crisis of climate change, it may well be that the challenges we face now are direr than any time in our modern history.
Here is my promise to you for this campaign. Not only will I fight to protect the working families of this country, but we’re going to build a movement of millions of Americans who are prepared to stand up and fight back. We’re going to take this campaign directly to the people – in town meetings, door to door conversations, on street corners and in social media – and that’s BernieSanders.com by the way. This week we will be in New Hampshire, Iowa and Minnesota – and that’s just the start of a vigorous grassroots campaign.
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, and the ideas and proposals that effectively address those needs. 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. I hope other candidates agree, and I hope the media allows that to happen. Politics in a democratic society should not be treated like a baseball game, a game show or a soap opera. The times are too serious for that.
Let me take a minute to touch on some of the issues that I will be focusing on in the coming months, and then give you an outline of an Agenda for America which will, in fact, deal with these problems and lead us to a better future.
Income and Wealth Inequality: Today, we live in the wealthiest nation in the history of the world but that reality means very little for most of us because almost all of that wealth is owned and controlled by a tiny handful of individuals. In America we now have more income and wealth inequality than any other major country on earth, and the gap between the very rich and everyone is wider than at any time since the 1920s. The issue of wealth and income inequality is the great moral issue of our time, it is the great economic issue of our time and it is the great political issue of our time. And we will address it.
Let me be very clear. There is something profoundly wrong when, in recent years, we have seen a proliferation of millionaires and billionaires at the same time as millions of Americans work longer hours for lower wages and we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country on earth. There is something profoundly wrong when one family owns more wealth than the bottom 130 million Americans. This grotesque level of inequality is immoral. It is bad economics. It is unsustainable. This type of rigged economy is not what America is supposed to be about. This has got to change and, as your president, together we will change it.
Economics: But it is not just income and wealth inequality. It is the tragic reality that for the last 40 years the great middle class of our country – once the envy of the world – has been disappearing. Despite exploding technology and increased worker productivity, median family income is almost $5,000 less than it was in 1999. In Vermont and throughout this country it is not uncommon for people to be working two or three jobs just to cobble together enough income to survive on and some health care benefits.
The truth is that real unemployment is not the 5.4 percent you read in newspapers. It is close to 11 percent if you include those workers who have given up looking for jobs or who are working part time when they want to work full time. Youth unemployment is over 17 percent and African-American youth unemployment is much higher than that. Today, shamefully, we have 45 million people living in poverty, many of whom are working at low-wage jobs. These are the people who struggle every day to find the money to feed their kids, to pay their electric bills and to put gas in the car to get to work. This campaign is about those people and our struggling middle class. It is about creating an economy that works for all, and not just the one percent.
Citizens United: My fellow Americans: Let me be as blunt as I can and tell you what you already know. As a result of the disastrous Supreme Court decision on Citizens United, the American political system has been totally corrupted, and the foundations of American democracy are being undermined. What the Supreme Court essentially said was that it was not good enough for the billionaire class to own much of our economy. They could now own the U.S. government as well. And that is precisely what they are trying to do.
American democracy is not about billionaires being able to buy candidates and elections. It is not about the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson and other incredibly wealthy individuals spending billions of dollars to elect candidates who will make the rich richer and everyone else poorer. According to media reports the Koch brothers alone, one family, will spend more money in this election cycle than either the Democratic or Republican parties. This is not democracy. This is oligarchy. In Vermont and at our town meetings we know what American democracy is supposed to be about. It is one person, one vote – with every citizen having an equal say – and no voter suppression. And that’s the kind of American political system we have to fight for and will fight for in this campaign.
Climate Change: When we talk about our responsibilities as human beings and as parents, there is nothing more important than leaving this country and the entire planet in a way that is habitable for our kids and grandchildren. The debate is over. The scientific community has spoken in a virtually unanimous voice. Climate change is real. It is caused by human activity and it is already causing devastating problems in the United States and around the world.
The scientists are telling us that if we do not boldly transform our energy system away from fossil fuels and into energy efficiency and sustainable energies, this planet could be five to ten degrees Fahrenheit warmer by the end of this century. This is catastrophic. It will mean more drought, more famine, more rising sea level, more floods, more ocean acidification, more extreme weather disturbances, more disease and more human suffering. We must not, we cannot, and we will not allow that to happen.
It is no secret that there is massive discontent with politics in America today. In the mid-term election in November, 63 percent of Americans did not vote, including 80 percent of young people. Poll after poll tells us that our citizens no longer have confidence in our political institutions and, given the power of Big Money in the political process, they have serious doubts about how much their vote actually matters and whether politicians have any clue as to what is going on in their lives.
Combatting this political alienation, this cynicism and this legitimate anger will not be easy. That’s for sure. But that is exactly what, together, we have to do if we are going to turn this country around – and that is what this campaign is all about.
And to bring people together we need a simple and straight-forward progressive agenda which speaks to the needs of our people, and which provides us with a vision of a very different America. And what is that agenda?
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs: It begins with jobs. If we are truly serious about reversing the decline of the middle class we need a major federal jobs program which puts millions of Americans back to work at decent paying jobs. At a time when our roads, bridges, water systems, rail and airports are decaying, the most effective way to rapidly create meaningful jobs is to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. That’s why I’ve introduced legislation which would invest $1 trillion over 5 years to modernize our country’s physical infrastructure. This legislation would create and maintain at least 13 million good-paying jobs, while making our country more productive, efficient and safe. And I promise you as president I will lead that legislation into law.
I will also continue to oppose our current trade policies. For decades, presidents from both parties have supported trade agreements which have cost us millions of decent paying jobs as corporate America shuts down plants here and moves to low-wage countries. As president, my trade policies will break that cycle of agreements which enrich at the expense of the working people of this country.
Raising Wages: Let us be honest and acknowledge that millions of Americans are now working for totally inadequate wages. The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is a starvation wage and must be raised. The minimum wage must become a living wage – which means raising it to $15 an hour over the next few years – which is exactly what Los Angeles recently did – and I applaud them for doing that. Our goal as a nation must be to ensure that no full-time worker lives in poverty. Further, we must establish pay equity for women workers. It’s unconscionable that women earn 78 cents on the dollar compared to men who perform the same work. We must also end the scandal in which millions of American employees, often earning less than $30,000 a year, work 50 or 60 hours a week – and earn no overtime. And we need paid sick leave and guaranteed vacation time for all.
Addressing Wealth and Income Inequality: This campaign is going to send a message to the billionaire class. And that is: you can’t have it all. You can’t get huge tax breaks while children in this country go hungry. You can’t continue sending our jobs to China while millions are looking for work. You can’t hide your profits in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens, while there are massive unmet needs on every corner of this nation. Your greed has got to end. You cannot take advantage of all the benefits of America, if you refuse to accept your responsibilities.
That is why we need a tax system which is fair and progressive, which makes wealthy individuals and profitable corporations begin to pay their fair share of taxes.
Reforming Wall Street: It is time to break up the largest financial institutions in the country. Wall Street cannot continue to be an island unto itself, gambling trillions in risky financial instruments while expecting the public to bail it out. If a bank is too big to fail it is too big to exist. We need a banking system which is part of the job creating productive economy, not a handful of huge banks on Wall Street which engage in reckless and illegal activities.
Campaign Finance Reform: If we are serious about creating jobs, about climate change and the needs of our children and the elderly, we must be deadly serious about campaign finance reform and the need for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. I have said it before and I’ll say it again. I will not nominate any justice to the Supreme Court who has not made it clear that he or she will move to overturn that disastrous decision which is undermining our democracy. Long term, we need to go further and establish public funding of elections.
Reversing Climate Change: The United States must lead the world in reversing climate change. We can do that if we transform our energy system away from fossil fuels, toward energy efficiency and such sustainable energies such as wind, solar, geo-thermal and bio-mass. Millions of homes and buildings need to be weatherized, our transportation system needs to be energy efficient, and we need a tax on carbon to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuel.
Health Care for All: The United States remains the only major country on earth that does not guarantee health care for all as a right. Despite the modest gains of the Affordable Care Act, 35 million Americans continue to lack health insurance and many more are under-insured. Yet, we continue paying far more per capita for health care than any other nation. The United States must join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee health care to all as a right by moving toward a Medicare-for-All single-payer system.
Protecting Our Most Vulnerable: At a time when millions of Americans are struggling to keep their heads above water economically, at a time when senior poverty is increasing, at a time when millions of kids are living in dire poverty, my Republican colleagues, as part of their recently-passed budget, are trying to make a terrible situation even worse. If you can believe it, the Republican budget throws 27 million Americans off health insurance, makes drastic cuts in Medicare, throws millions of low-income Americans, including pregnant women off of nutrition programs, and makes it harder for working-class families to afford college or put their kids in the Head Start program. And then, to add insult to injury, they provide huge tax breaks for the very wealthiest families in this country while they raise taxes on working families.
Well, let me tell my Republican colleagues that I respectfully disagree with their approach. Instead of cutting Social Security, we’re going to expand Social Security benefits. Instead of cutting Head Start and child care, we are going to move to a universal pre-K system for all the children of this country. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt reminded us, a nation’s greatness is judged not by what it provides to the most well-off, but how it treats the people most in need. And that’s the kind of nation we must become.
College for All: And when we talk about education, let me be very clear. In a highly competitive global economy, we need the best educated workforce we can create. It is insane and counter-productive to the best interests of our country, that hundreds of thousands of bright young people cannot afford to go to college, and that millions of others leave school with a mountain of debt that burdens them for decades. That must end. That is why, as president, I will fight to make tuition in public colleges and universities free, as well as substantially lower interest rates on student loans.
War and Peace: As everybody knows, we live in a difficult and dangerous world, and there are people out there who want to do us harm. As president, I will defend this nation – but I will do it responsibly. As a member of Congress I voted against the war in Iraq, and that was the right vote. I am vigorously opposed to an endless war in the Middle East – a war which is unwise and unnecessary. We must be vigorous in combatting terrorism and defeating ISIS, but we should not have to bear that burden alone. We must be part of an international coalition, led by Muslim nations, that can not only defeat ISIS but begin the process of creating conditions for a lasting peace.
As some of you know, I was born in a far-away land called Brooklyn, New York. My father came to this country from Poland without a penny in his pocket and without much of an education. My mother graduated high school in New York City. My father worked for almost his entire life as a paint salesman and we were solidly lower-middle class. My parents, brother and I lived in a small rent-controlled apartment. My mother’s dream was to move out of that small apartment into a home of our own. She died young and her dream was never fulfilled. As a kid I learned, in many, many ways, what lack of money means to a family. That’s a lesson I have never forgotten.
I have seen the promise of America in my own life. My parents would have never dreamed that their son would be a U.S. Senator, let alone run for president. But for too many of our fellow Americans, the dream of progress and opportunity is being denied by the grind of an economy that funnels all the wealth to the top.
And to those who say we cannot restore the dream, I say just look where we are standing. This beautiful place was once an unsightly rail yard that served no public purpose and was an eyesore. As mayor, I worked with the people of Burlington to help turn this waterfront into the beautiful people-oriented public space it is today. We took the fight to the courts, to the legislature and to the people. And we won.
The lesson to be learned is that when people stand together, and are prepared to fight back, there is nothing that can’t be accomplished.
We can live in a country:
  • Where every person has health care as a right, not a privilege;
  • Where every parent can have quality and affordable childcare and where all of our qualified young people, regardless of income, can go to college;
  • Where every senior can live in dignity and security, and not be forced to choose between their medicine or their food;
  • Where every veteran who defends this nation gets the quality health care and benefits they have earned and receives the respect they deserve;
  • Where every person, no matter their race, their religion, their disability or their sexual orientation realizes the full promise of equality that is our birthright as Americans.
That is the nation we can build together, and I ask you to join me in this campaign to build a future that works for all of us, and not just the few on top.
Thank you, and on this beautiful day on the shore of Lake Champlain, I welcome you aboard.”
Response to “Bernie’s Big Day almost here: A guide to the event”
| May 25, 2015 | 8:58 pm | Bernie Sanders, political struggle | No comments
By A. Shaw
There are signs that the bourgeois media plans to downplay their coverage of Bernie Sanders’ big rally Tuesday, May 26 at Waterfront Park in Burlington, VT while this media exaggerates their coverage of the every frivolous events in the campaigns of the GOPs.
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If the coverage is unreasonably sparse, Bernie should order campaign staff in charge of volunteers to activate the campaign-generated mass movement to protest unfair media coverage aimed at Bernie Sanders.
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Bernie’s Big Day almost here: A guide to the event
| May 25, 2015 | 8:56 pm | Bernie Sanders, political struggle | No comments
Source: Burlington Free Press
May 25, 2015
By April  Burbank
Tuesday’s big Bernie Sanders presidential campaign event will be equal parts homecoming and political spectacle.
The independent senator has pulled together plenty of Burlington symbolism: Sanders expects to stand on public land he fought for in the 1980s as he announces his presidential ambitions — while spectators munch Ben & Jerry’s ice cream at the free, non-ticketed event in Waterfront Park.
Burlington-based band Mango Jam will play in the park. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, of ice-cream fame, and Bill McKibben, the Vermont environmentalist and author, are expected to speak.
Plans for the event came together less than week before the big day, as Sanders campaign staffers unpacked a national campaign headquarters on Church Street. Volunteers on Friday had begun to call New Hampshire residents. The workers were surrounded by cardboard boxes and “Join the political revolution today” T-shirts.
The Vermonty kickoff is likely to draw people from across the state and beyond for the start of what Sanders and staff have described as a grassroots campaign for the Democratic nomination.
Richard and Margy Gerber of New York state plan to drive five hours to catch Sanders’ hometown announcement. They also want to visit family in Burlington.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been at a campaign announcement event in my life,” Richard Gerber said.
Gerber remembers marching into Sanders’ office during a visit to Burlington several years ago and telling a staffer that Sanders should run for president. Elevator doors opened, and Gerber suddenly found an opportunity to share the same message face-to-face with the senator himself.
“He sort of looked at me like I was crazy, I think, and just sort of thanked me for my support and got off of the elevator and went into his office,” Gerber said, adding that he’d like to think his encouragement had something to do with the senator’s decision.
Does Sanders have a shot at the presidency? “I’m realistic that it’s not likely to happen,” Gerber said, “but it’d be nice if it did.”
The campaign kickoff is set for 5 p.m. Tuesday in Waterfront Park, with music and ice cream starting at 4:30 p.m. A separate “people’s assembly” is planning to rally starting at 2 p.m. in City Hall Park before walking to the waterfront.
Burlington last experienced a presidential announcement in 2003, when Democratic candidate and former Gov. Howard Dean spoke to a crowd on Church Street Marketplace.
The Burlington waterfront can accommodate thousands of Sanders fans, ice cream eaters and curious onlookers, but the location was the campaign’s second choice.
“The original conversation was around using Contois, which is the auditorium in City Hall,” said Jesse Bridges, who oversees city parks and buildings as director of Burlington’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Waterfront.
Contois Auditorium can hold about 300 people.
“It became pretty clear pretty quick that there was going to be a few more people wanting to attend,” Bridges said.
Plan B was Waterfront Park, looking out over Lake Champlain.
When Sanders was mayor of Burlington, his administration supported an effort in the late 1980s to preserve waterfront land for public use, a fight that went to the Vermont Supreme Court.
“It’s something that he’s very proud of,” said Sanders campaign spokesman Michael Briggs, “and people in Burlington, I think, appreciate that.”
In a contract with the city signed less than a week before the event, the Sanders campaign agreed to pay a $3,100 fee to hold the kickoff in Waterfront Park, plus an additional $800 to hold Memorial Auditorium on Main Street in case of rain.
“The park can handle it very well space-wise,” Bridges said. The campaign had yet to announce an expected crowd size, but Bridges guesses at least 2,000. The event is free and open to the public, though the campaign has asked people to RSVP. The bad-weather alternative at Memorial Auditorium can hold 2,500 people.
Glass containers are banned from the park, and city ordinances prohibit alcohol consumption. Burlington discourages dogs at events with large crowds.
Like any other event, the rally will be subject to the city’s decibel limits for amplified sound. The contract with the city requires amplified sound to end at 7 p.m. Parks and Recreation staff will be on hand monitoring noise.
Parking could become a challenge: The city encourages people to use the Burlington Bike Path, take the free College Street shuttle bus or walk from downtown parking garages. No parking is available on-site.
“We are always proponents of biking and walking to our parks, and using public transportation,” Bridges said.