There are approximately 5,000 unaffiliated registered voters in Berlin, Connecticut in comparison to approximately 4,000 Democratic voters and 3,000 Republican voters. There must be reasons why voters did not register with either of the two major political parties.
Perhaps one of the reasons so many voters registered as unaffiliated was because of their disgust with major political parties. At the national level, our government has encountered gridlock on many important issues, leaving serious problems unresolved. Immigration, tax reform, money in politics, unfair trade agreements, invasion of privacy, are just some of the issues that a majority of American voters want addressed in this country.
On the Town Council in Berlin, Connecticut, we have witnessed voting by members on key important financial matters along strict party lines even though each election cycle we have been assured that they would reach across the aisle to work with those who belong to a different political party. The result, in my opinion, has been the party in power succeeding in promoting its party’s economic agenda, whether it be in the best interests of the citizens of Berlin.
Results of referendums have been largely ignored, if not dismissed entirely. Taxes this year have increased 4.7% over those of the previous year even though real disposable income of the majority of Berlin residents have not been increasing. Businesses have closed while it has been rumored that some new businesses have shunned Berlin, going to adjacent towns. Even some residents have voiced concerns over fear of being targeted by employees of the Town of Berlin, Connecticut. Do you recall the Berlin coaches who feared coming forward publicly to address their concerns with the Town’s School Board?
Are special interests controlling our two major political parties? Are small cliques of our citizens—who lead and/or control these two political parties—attempting to benefit from these two major political parties? Do governmental unions control one political party in Town? Do certain individuals control the other political party in Town, preventing the free expression of views and participation of all of its members?
If Berlin citizens support and vote for individuals running as independent candidates, perhaps we can change the political climate on our Town Council. For instance, if three Democrats and three Republicans need the vote of the independent candidate on the Town Council, perhaps then control of our Town can be wrested from the dominance of any one political party, which would ordinarily be in control of the Town Council by the mere fact that seven members serve on it.
Let’s consider electing an independent, unaffiliated voter to represent the majority of citizens living in the Town of Berlin. If you are interested in supporting this proposal, forming a committee to nominate a candidate, petitioning citizens to place an independent candidate on the ballot, or running for office on the Town Council in Berlin, please contact us: email@example.com.
Save your money folks and don’t contribute to Bernie Sanders’ campaign. You will be throwing good money away because Bernie Sanders is destined to lose. Why? Because he has been merely grandstanding, apparently only promoting his value as a politician by his continued refusal to fight the good fight for his supporters.
Although Bernie Sanders calls his campaign a political revolution, he is not a fighter. Yes, he gives speeches on issues; and he is an excellent gadfly; however, gadflies don’t fight but merely annoy. And to defeat an opponent with the backing of Wall Street, name recognition, an establishment of professionals in one’s campaign organization with a war chest of $2.5 billion, Bernie Sanders needs to fight and fight hard. After all, isn’t he calling for a political revolution? Giving speeches to an empty Senate chamber may make for great oratory, but elections involve calling out and legitimately attacking one’s opponent on one’s political positions and history. Bernie Sanders refuses to do so.
Bernie Sanders keeps saying that he has “enormous respect” for his opponent. But his opponent represents Wall Street, not Main Street, the very evil that he wishes to overthrow, and his opponent would continue the destructive policies of the economy for the middle class, the environment, the Bill of Rights, etc. How can one continue to say that one has enormous respect for someone who would continue the destruction of America for the 99%?
Yes, Bernie Sanders is destined to lose. Next April, the primary will be over and his opponent will win. Those who think otherwise are naive, gullible idealists, if not delusional Pollyannas. Never has a revolution been won solely by cheerleading and minuets; history is full of many involving countless bloodbaths. Permitting oneself and one’s supporters to criticize one’s opponent is not only ethical, but a necessity in order to prevail. It’s not as if substantive and legitimate criticism constitutes a bloodbath!
Of course, Bernie, as a Senator, has his pension with full benefits to fall back on, and will retire to his country estate and work on his $30 million book deal after his defeat. After all, he is not paying for his campaign, but rather his supporters are. Unfortunately, because of the unwillingness of him and his supporters to confront his opponent in thoughtful, substantive, legitimate, and critical attacks, his supporters will be doomed to another eight years of his blue-dog Democratic opponent representing the will of Wall Street and enriching the 1%.
In a democracy, the people get the government they deserve. And if the people are unwilling to fight the good fight against the tyranny of Wall Street, and the spokespeople of Wall Street, they deserve to lose.
Chuck Todd: Senator Sanders, welcome back to Meet the Press. And let me start with an issue you are going to be dealing with in a few hours, I know you will be flying back from Minneapolis to Washington for the special Senate session: the NSA, the Patriot Act, Section 215. I assume you are a supporter of the USA Freedom Act. Are you? Is that where you will be voting?
Bernie Sanders: I may well be voting for it. It doesn’t go as far as I would like it to go. I voted against the original Patriot Act. I voted against the reauthorization of the Patriot Act.
Look, we have got to be vigorous in fighting terrorism and protecting the American people, but we have to do it in a way that protects the constitutional rights of the American people. And I am very, very worried about the invasions of privacy right that we are seeing not only from the NSA and the government but from corporate America as well.
We are losing our privacy rights. It is a huge issue.
Chuck Todd: And the government is going to be asking corporate America to keep this data under the USA Freedom Act. You’re comfortable with that?
Bernie Sanders: No, I am not. But we have to look at the best of bad situations. The question is whether the NSA keeps it. The question is whether it is transferred to the phone companies who by the way already keep records for an extended period of time.
Chuck Todd: You’ve served under two Democratic Presidents: Bill Clinton and Barack Obama which one has been a better progressive champion in your view?
Bernie Sanders: Well, neither one of them have gone as far as I would have liked them to go and that’s one of the reasons what we’re seeing the disappearance of the middle class in this country and a huge increase in income and wealth inequality.
That is why we are not dealing with the fact we have 45 million people living in poverty and why we are still the only major country on earth that doesn’t guarantee health care to all people.
Look, I have a lot of respect for President Obama. I consider him a friend. I disagree with him on issues like that TPP or the extension of tax breaks that Bush initiated. But I think history will judge President Obama a lot better than many other of his contemporaries, given the fact that he came into office at a time when this country was in terrible, terrible shape.
Chuck Todd: You singled out President Obama for praise but not President Clinton. Why?
Bernie Sanders: Look I think Bill Clinton did a very good job as well. I disagree with him strongly on NAFTA, permanent normal trade relations with China. I’m a strong opponent of these disastrous trade agreements which have cost us millions of decent paying jobs. I am helping to lead the opposition against the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
I also very strongly disagreed with President Clinton on the deregulation on Wall Street. I opposed that strenuously and I think the results prove that when you allow the greed and recklessness of Wall Street to go unchecked, you’re going to end up where we are today and where we were eight years ago.
Chuck Todd: You know it’s interesting when you watch chief primary opponent right now, Secretary Hillary Clinton, on some key issues she has changed her position to amore progressive view on same-sex marriage, on immigration (that is, over the last 10 years), on NAFTA, on trade, on the Iraq war, on Cuba. She has moved from a position basically in disagreement with you to a position that comes closer to your view.
So I guess is, do you take her at her word and do you think that rhetorically that’s enough?
Bernie Sanders: Look, I have known Hillary Clinton for twenty-five years. I have enormous respect for her and I like her.
And what I hope, Chuck, is that the media will allow us to have a serious debate in this campaign on the enormous issues facing the American people, which is why for the last forty years our middle class has been disappearing, why 99% of all new income generated today is going to the top 1%, and why we have this grotesque level of income and wealth inequality.
I have been–I know a lot of people criticize me in Vermont: they say, oh, Bernie, you have been saying the same thing for thirty years.
Well, it is kind of true. And maybe, you know, it is a badge of honor.
But I have been there. I think we need a political revolution in this country. I think we need to take on the greed of the billionaire class, a disastrous campaign finance system.
Chuck Todd: Do you trust these changes that Hillary Clinton has made or do you think she has been doing it just for primary politics.
Bernie Sanders: I think that is for the American people to decide. I know where I have been on trade agreements, I know where I have been on Walk Street, I know where I have been on the Keystone Pipeline, and Secretary Clinton will obviously explain her position to the American people.
Chuck Todd: This week you have found what it is like to become a nationally recognized candidate for President and potentially a threat to somebody. A leaking of an essay you wrote in the 1970s for an alternative weekly. Your campaign has described it as satire: I’ll be honest with you, Senator Sanders, it’s uncomfortable to read. The only excerpt I am going to put up is you wrote this in February 1972, it was sort of a fantasy of men and women. You said “A woman enjoys intercourse with her man–as she fantasizes being raped by three men simultaneously.” Your campaign described it as satire. Can you explain this essay?
Bernie Sanders: Sure. Look, this is a piece of fiction that I wrote in 1972, that was forty-three years ago. It was very poorly written. And if you read it, what it was dealing with gender stereotypes: why some men like to oppress women; why other women like to be submissive. You know, something like fifty shades of grey. Very poorly written, forty-three years ago.
What I am focusing on right now are the issues impacting the American people today. And that’s what I will continue to focus on and what I think the American people will want to hear.
And by the way, on broader issues, what I think when we talk about issues, Chuck, we need a lot more debates in this campaign. I hope very much that we can begin with the Democratic candidates debates as early as July and have some Republicans in those debates as well.
Chuck Todd: All right, there you go. Senator Sanders calling for July debates. We will go to Secretary Clinton. We are ready to host them right here on Meet the Press. Senator Sanders, stay safe on the trail, we’ll see you back in Washington.
SCHULTZ: Good to have you with us tonight folks. Thanks for watching. We start tonight with the Bernie bump. Bernie Sanders has been on the campaign trail for only two days and he`s already giving Hillary Clinton`s campaign some real headaches. During a campaign event in New Hampshire, his first stop since his official announcement. Senator Sanders spoke with clarity on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: I am helping right now as we speak to lead the opposition to this TransPacific
Partnership trade agreement.
Now, Hillary Clinton can be for the trade agreement the president is.
She can be against the trade agreement. I am, Elizabeth Warren and many others of us are.
But I just don`t know how you don`t have an opinion on this enormously important issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: This is the only sound bite that America wants to hear right now because this is the depressing issue. Now, that is speaking with clarity and that what campaigns are supposed to be about, to let people know exactly where you`re on key issues. Senator Sanders is leading the opposition against the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Meanwhile, we have no idea where Hillary stands on trade. We get a lot of parameters, but we don`t get absolutes. Clinton has said that she has some concerns about the TTP. But overall let’s be serious, this is her main taking point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I have said that I`m going to, you know, make up my mind. I`ve been for trade agreements, I`ve been against trade agreements, voted for some, voted against others. So, I want to judge this when I see what`s exactly is in it and whether or not I think it meets my standards.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Well, respectfully Mrs. Clinton. You were in the United States Senate. The United States Senate has already voted on the trade agreement. They`ve voted last week, and it was passing. No, question about it. Now, it`s up to the House and there`s a lot of Democrats in the House right now that want to know where the leading candidates stands on what is going to be a massive trade deal for this country.
Now, Hillary`s position on trade I think is anything but clear. She`s outlined what she wants in a deal. She`s outline what she wants in a trade deal. But she wants to see exactly what`s in it. Well, hasn`t the Senate seen what`s in it? She want`s to see it before she makes a decision. Give me break.
Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State when this deal was being negotiated. I find it hard to believe that the Secretary of State is so in the dark about the TTP. I agree with Senator Sanders. I find it hard to believe that Hillary Clinton can`t come to the some kind of conclusion on this an absolute, not a parameter of what she`s looking for.
The Clinton campaign is hoping that the House will vote on FastTrack ASAP so they don`t have to deal with this trade issue anymore. Clinton refusal to take a stand on certain issues starting to chip away at her lead in the polls as well, over the past month I know we`re long way away. But she`s going on the wrong direction. Hillary Clinton lost three points on
her lead. Bernie Sanders has jumped 7 points. He`s now at 15 percent. Is this a trend of a bump?
Now with the eight months to go until the first primarily Hillary Clinton shouldn`t be taking anything for granted. We`ve been down this road before.
POLITICO reported today that Hillary Clinton`s campaign is “Frightened of Sanders. Not that he would win the nomination, but he could damage her with the activist base by challenge her on core progressive positions in debates and make her look like a centrist of corporatist”.
Is that what campaigns were all about? Frightened, frightened about the truth. I find that hard to believe. It`s not just trade. Hillary Clinton has been silent on other issue like the Keystone XL pipeline. It`s important to point out Hillary Clinton`s campaign website. It does not have an issues page. I saw that today, you know, I just found that startling.
Senator Sanders`s website has had an issues tab from the start.
So, when do Democrats get to play fair with one another and say “OK, enough is enough, the House is getting ready to vote on this. The Senate has already voted on it. Let`s get an answer”. We`re coming down to the 11th hour on trade in this Congress. Democratic
voters deserve to know where Hillary Clinton`s stands on trade and the TransPacific
Partnership. It`s time for an absolute.
We`ve got an absolute from Bernie Sanders. We have not in fairness, we have not got an
absolute from Hillary Clinton and there`s a lot of people that want to know, if she was still on the Senate, how would you voted Mrs. Clinton.
Is this Bill Clinton`s influence on his wife? He was a free trader. He was for NAFTA. So, what`s going on here? Why can`t we get the absolute answer from Hillary Clinton? Is this loyalty to her former boss, President Obama? That`s a question in itself. When President Obama was in the United States Senate, he said that he was going to do something about currency manipulation.
Well, guess what. This trade deal doesn`t have anything in it about currency manipulation. It doesn`t have anything about investor`s state trade dispute or circumventing American law. Why the hell that we even have representatives in Washington, if we`re going to let International Tribunals tell us how we have to do trade. It`s wrong.
This should be a slam dunk from Hillary Clinton. It is going to be very hard for her and there`s going to be a lot of people who were going to remember that she didn`t take a complete stand on trade before the House voted.
Now, if this is causing political problems for Hillary Clinton. Why in the world would John Boehner bring it to the floor for a vote? Why not make sure Hillary Clinton takes a stand on this. I would venture to say that maybe the Republicans would rather go against Bernie Sanders than Hillary Clinton.
So there`s a lot of political calculations taking place right now. There`s only one sound bite that this broadcaster wants to hear from Hillary Clinton right now and that is where she stands absolutely, just like every union worker in this country stands absolutely oppose to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This should not be that hard.
Get your cellphones out. I want to know what you think. Tonight`s question, “Is the TTP going to cause political problems for Hillary Clinton?” Go to polls.msnbc.com/ed to cast your vote. We`ll bring you the result later on in the show.
So, what are they saying in the middle of county. Let bring in Wisconsin Congressman Mark Pocan who sits on the House Budget Committee, also with us tonight Scott Paul President of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, gentlemen great to have you with us tonight.
Congressman, I want to know what your constituents are saying in Wisconsin in the middle of the country. Are they even aware of FastTrack and TPP, and are they paying attention to it?
REP. MARK POCAN, (D) WISCONSIN: Ed, they`re very aware of it, just a couple weeks ago I had listening sessions in six counties. I think in every single listening session this came up as an issue.
In fact in Lafayette County, the biggest town in Lafayette County is 2,400 people. They just
lost a company with 36 jobs that`s going to Mexico and they`ve applied for trade adjustment assistance. So we`re still seeing that. If you think about that, that 36 jobs in Darlington is like losing 3,600 jobs in Madison also in my district.
So, this is a big issue people talk about everyone Democrats or Republican should be standing against a trade deal that we don`t know enough about and doesn`t have protections for labor environment had this tribunals, doesn`t have currency manipulation go on and list. There`s many reason to oppose this.
SCHULTZ: Congressman. Do your constituents in Wisconsin in the middle of country. Are they curious about President Obama`s reversal on this? Are they talking about it?
POCAN: I`ve got several times while we do the listing session again as an example, why does the White House support this? And, you know, I think this question was asked of the gentleman who did trade for President Reagan who now opposes these trade deals. He said everything they`re promised back then didn`t come to fruition.
And now, he thinks this is a bad route for Americans and his analysis was that the White House, no matter who`s President, often looks at this for geopolitical reasons and we have allies in the region and how do you give something to your allies in a region especially where China is such a dominate economic force?
The problem is that ignores what I care about most which is that we`re going to lose more jobs here in the United States and we`re going to have wages depress right here at home. To me that is exactly what happens every time we have a trade deal that doesn`t have the proper protections and that`s why anyone should oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership…
POCAN: … if it doesn`t have those things. And I can tell you it doesn`t right now.
SCHULTZ: You know, this isn`t about playing political favorites. I want the audience watching the Ed Show tonight to know. This isn`t about Bernie Sanders. It`s not about Hillary Clinton. It`s not about President Obama. It`s about those folks out there across American who are in this American economy and their future and their stability. That`s what this issue about.
It`s not about choosing of sides. This is an issue and it`s not a cheap shot nor is it negative to step up and say “OK, where does this candidate stand on something that is going to be so huge to our global economy. Where is American going with this?”
Now Scott Paul, you have recently written an oped and you wrote about President Obama when he was a Senator running for the White House. President Obama, Barack Obama said he didn`t get that he`d get tough on currency. But now with an opportunity to do something about it as President he`s change his tune. What do you make of that Mr. Paul?
SCOTT PAUL, ALLIANCE FOR AMERICAN MANUFACTURING: Well, I`d like to see more of the Barack Obama of 2007 and a little less of what we`re seeing today. If he was true to his words in 2007 and I would add if Senator Clinton is true to the words that she spoke back in 2007 as well. Could be no doubt that this process the TPA, the FastTrack
authority and the agreement the Trans-Pacific Partnership would look a lot different than
they are today and that they would represent the interest of working people.
The challenge has been that and I think Rep. Pocan pointed this out that this is become about geopolitics. I think that`s a flawed argument. It`s become about Wall Street. And it`s losing touch with working people across America.
Ed, I would just add that the clarity is simple to happen. I mean Rick Santorum who announce for president yesterday penned an oped.
PAUL: In March calling for dealing with currency manipulation and trade deals a very specifically. There`s an amended that narrowly passed last week that could have a game changer on this. Ed, I would like to hear Senator Clinton talk in the way that she did during the 2007 campaign about this with greater clarity. And I`ll just say this…
PAUL: … I think voters in Iowa and New Hampshire expect an answer. I think they`ll be asking her consistently and I hope they receive one.
SCHULTZ: Well, the Clinton campaign, I`m getting a sense if they want this vote in the House to take place ASAP so they get say “Well, it`s already passed and this is the way it is so we`ll have to deal with it moving forward”. No, I mean this is not a slam dunk in the House right now. And Congressman the votes aren`t there right now.
And this is a huge vacation or should I say working vacation or recess that the Congress is taking right now because they`re getting input from folks back home and this is building. The votes aren`t there or are they Congressman?
POCAN: No, in fact they will pull a vote when the White House and the Republican leadership and Paul Ryan think they have the votes lined up. But I could tell on the House Democratic side, there are only maybe 20 people right now who`re at the yes and all of the rest of us are right no with a…
POCAN: … small number of undecided. And I can tell you that this is something that on the Republican side we think we might have at least 60 votes and growing who don`t want to give up our sovereignty through some of the provision. You talk about the tribunals and other issue.
So, this is not a slam dunk. We`re going to fight this to the last breathe we have. And I hope that are successful because we`re hearing it from our districts if people don`t want this. There are simply not real constituents who say “I think you should pass this”.
SCHULTZ: OK. Now back to currency manipulation for a moment. China and Japan are big players in this deal. Scott Paul, be very clear. They have a record of currency manipulation, correct? And also that Hillary Clinton has said that currency manipulation has to be address.
Well, in this trade deal it is not addressed. So, how much more information does Hillary Clinton have to have to take a definitive stance on this issue, your thought?
PAUL: Ed, it`s very clear and again this is the Democrats and Republicans largely agree on. We have American businesses and labor that agree on this point as well. And even if you don`t think that China and/or Japan are manipulating their currencies today, just as some smart people say “You don`t throw away you umbrella when it`s sunny outside because it`s going to rain again”.
They have a pattern on this, they have a history. We have sky high trade deficits with China and Japan. They cause American jobs all across Wisconsin and Iowa and New Hampshire there are factories that have shuttered form these unfair trade practices.
And if we truly want a trade agreement that represents 21st century interest in the interest of working people. It`s got to deal with currency manipulation. Right now in this country if you`re a hardworking business, if you`re worker and through no fault of your own you lost your job because of unfair trade practice like currency manipulation. You have…
PAUL: … absolutely no recourse, it just happens that`s why we need to this in trade deals and I would love to hear President Obama to use his position on this back to what it was on 2007. More importantly I think it`s important for Senator Clinton to speak out on this, very forcefully and also very specifically about what she expect.
SCHULTZ: OK, Congressman Mark Pocan, Scott Paul, President Alliance American Manufacturing, great to have both of you with us tonight.
You know folks this is what a campaign is about, to take a tough issue and yes, it is a hard choice. But there are absolutes. American jobs and the American economy is going to be injured if we go down this road. And if history be your guide there`s not one trade agreement that this country can turn to even under the Obama years that can say that it hasn`t added to our trade deficit and that`s American jobs.
Remember to answer tonight`s question at polls.msnbc.com/ed. We`ll have the results right after this break. Follow us on Facebook and you could watch my Facebook featured “Give me a minute” and of course you can get my video Podcast at WeGotEd.com.
Andrea Mitchell: Let’s talk about the democrats because to be counter-intuitive contrary to what has been written recently in the New York Times front page about Bernie Sanders and older folks, I am hearing more and more from young people who are really intrigued by Bernie Sanders.
Chuck Todd: That’s right, and I think it’s more of, you know, Hillary Clinton’s reputation is very cautious; okay, she’s risk-averse. When she finally takes a position, just watch her. And look at how she’s campaigned: everything’s been very risk-averse. You know, God forbid, she would ever take a question from you. You know, that type of thing. It is very risk averse.
Bernie and the young millenials, they’re not risk averse. And so I think they’re going to gravitate to a candidate that might be a little more rambunctious, and certainly Bernie Sanders is.
And I think the fascinating thing is three months ago the talk was, is Martin O’Malley going to be enough and how could he be the chief challenger. I’m wondering now how does Martin O’Malley get past Bernie Sanders. And I don’t know if he can. Will he ever be seen as a true blue progressive to those who really want a progressive to send a message. I don’t think they don’t necessarily think that a progressive would beat her in the primary but I think some progressives would like Bernie Sanders to force Hillary Clinton to answer to the left a little bit more.
Andrea Mitchell: And a couple of quick points about Hillary Clinton. They say that they want to raise a hundred million dollars this year for primary money only; [they say] the things that have been written about two billion dollars is crazy. [They say] It will be a hundred million–the same as Barack Obama in both cycles, that’s excluding super PACs. So that’s twenty seven hundred dollar contributions.
They say they have a fifty-state track strategy; they are serious about fighting in the primaries; they’re serious about Iowa; they are trying to lower expectations, saying that, well, nobody except Tom Harkin and the sitting president running has gotten more than 50 percent in the Iowa caucuses. They are trying to low-ball that when she came in third last time around.
And in South Carolina it is really interesting the way she tried to take on both the race and the gender issue. She was campaigning among African-American women and other women as well trying to fix what Bill Clinton messed up so badly in a race where he got accused by many including Jim Clayburn of playing the race card.
Chuck Todd: And this is to me the big gap for Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders in his announcement speech, you know, if you were somebody who cared about civil rights issues, cared about immigration, you didn’t hear much out of Bernie Sanders.
Part of that is he’s a Vermont politician, and he’s never really had to campaign for African-American vote, campaign for Hispanic vote. And this is probably easily like, if things go really bad with the progressive wing for Hillary Clinton on economics and all these things, you know, she still has this. And I think if you look at the way Sanders is running and you’re saying he can intellectually give her a run for her money with sort of liberal white elites but the rank-and-file where the Democratic primary voter is, he is not as disconnected yet to African-American voters or Hispanic voters, and I don’t know how he gets there.
“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.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders greets supporters after announcing he is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president at Waterfront Park in Burlington on Tuesday, May 26, 2015.
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 the top one-tenth of 1 percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent, and when 99 percent of all new income goes to the top 1 percent. 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.
Vermonters and non-Vermonters alike flocked to Burlington Tuesday for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ official announcement that he will run for president. We asked them why they came.
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?
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders officially announces his bid for presidency of the United States at Waterfront Park in Burlington on Tuesday, May 26, 2015. Produced by Channel 17 and Burlington Free Press
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.”
Have you ever observed the mating dance of the birds of paradise? The male moves dramatically, and in response, the female inches away, but ultimately the male conquers the female, and achieves the purpose of this ritualistic, instinctive dance.
Well, the Democrats and Republicans have been dancing ritualistically quite some time now like birds of paradise. The Republican Congress leaps dramatically to the right, and then the Democratic President and Congress inches to the right, and as a result, the fulcrum of the political balance between the two parties and the constituents that they represent, keeps moving ever so slightly and undetectably to the electorate to the right.
And this shifting to the political right has been occurring ever since 1969 with the election of Richard Nixon, but took giant steps with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and the obtainment of power in the Democratic Party in 1985 by the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), which argued against populism and the traditional left philosophy of the old Democratic party, and embraced corporate and 1% money in order to win elections.
So especially over the past 30 years, the Democratic Party has been moving dramatically to the right on economic issues, and camouflaging its collusion with Wall Street and Corporate America big money by hiding behind wedge issues—such as abortion, gay marriage, immigration, etc.—which are not financial and thus not any detriment or threat to the financial interests of Wall Street.
The elections of Bill Clinton as President in 1992 and 1996, and those of Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, proved the political viability of this schizophrenic approach of the Democratic Party of remaining liberal on social issues but selling out to Wall Street on financial issues.
And the election of Hillary Clinton in 2016 will all but put the final nail in the coffin for populism and signal the death of populist Democrats, like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and firmly establish the reign of corporate Democrats, like Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton.
So it is not surprising at all that Bernie Sanders is now being characterized as this “socialist” from out in far-left field. But, in truth, Bernie Sanders has not changed politically over the past 45 years; rather, the Democratic Party has been doing this hokey-pokey dance with Republicans for all these 45 years in order to woo the votes of working class Americans while continue to cash in on its share of the loot from Corporate America and Wall Street.
Do you remember that hokey-pokey dance that you would do at weddings as a child? That’s what Democrats have been doing with Republicans.
You put your left foot out,
You put your left foot in;
You put your right foot out,
And you shake it all about.
You do the Hokey-Pokey,
And you turn yourself around.
That’s what it’s all about!
Don’t believe me? Recall that Obama had talked about a single-payer healthcare bill in 2008. Recall that he failed to present this bill to Congress for a vote. Instead in response to the Republican cries of socialism, pink commie, and the like, he then inched over and presented the Romneycare version of fixing healthcare, the original Republican solution to our nation’s healthcare problem of the mid-1990s. Of course, now that the Republicans have leaped to the extreme right (the political right raised to the nth power of infinity), they have not truly proposed any viable solution at all to the prohibitive cost of healthcare except for holistically medically dumping the sick and old on a hill outside Sparta and letting nature take its course.
Still don’t believe me? Recall that Obama in 2008 originally proposed tax increases for those earning more than $250,000 annually, and tax cuts for those earning less. And how did the Republicans dance to that tune? In 2010 they counter-proposed tax cuts plus a huge estate tax cut largely benefiting the rich. See? President Obama put his left foot out and his left foot in, he put his right foot out, then shook it all about…hokey-pokeying the middle class and turning himself around, and that’s what it’s all about.
The problem with doing this dance of the hokey-pokey birds of paradise is someone gets screwed at the end of this dance, and guess who does? Always, inevitably, the middle class: no single-payer healthcare system to control costs, making the insurance, pharmaceuticals, and medical companies even richer; tax cuts for the rich, resulting in huge deficits, which are hidden, deferred taxes, later to be passed onto the middle class in customary subterfuge fashion; and ultimately the privatization of medicare and, doomed to follow, social security, eventually abandoning us all on that same Spartan hill after we become old and sick.
It’s too bad President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton never appeared on “Dancing with the Stars” because they do this dance oh so well, and would be shoo-ins to win that contest hands down with their hokey-pokey, birds of paradise dance. They are so good at it that I bet you didn’t even notice it, did you?
But do not fret: Hillary Clinton will win the night on “Dancing with the Stars” and the American Presidency doing the hokey-pokey dance of putting her left foot forward on the social issues of gay marriage, immigration, and feminism, but taking her left foot back on the economic issues of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Keystone XL Pipeline, and income and wealth inequality. So Wall Street and Corporate America has its winning dance partner in Hillary Clinton. Do you think she knows how to do the hustle?
Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, never even learned to hustle. Consequently, is it any surprise that he is being characterized as the guy who is not with it and who is out in far left field? Look at what this so-called “socialist” has been saying:
Control the ever increasing income and wealth inequality
Stop the outsourcing of jobs overseas
Raise the minimum wage out of a poverty wage
Require equal pay for both genders
Cut the $720 billion annual military budget: World War II ended 70 years ago, folks!
Make public college education free: virtually everyone needs a college degree to get a job today
Provide healthcare to all instead of letting people die in streets
Save our environment from total destruction
Get big money corruption out of politics
Break up those big banksters under the forgotten Sherman Antitrust Act
Stop giving tax breaks to the rich and corporations, and go after their stash on the Cayman Islands
Encourage free assembly in unions for workers
This is communism?! This is socialism?! Is there any mention of the State owning your property and your house? Of course, Wall Street owning your house with all of your debt, and owning your children with all of their student debt is perfectly acceptable: it is capitalism at its finest hour since the rich get richer and you continue to get screwed. Or is it a corporate totalitarian state reigned by oligarchs and monarchs?
Does the State dictate prices and wages? Or does Corporate America, by shipping all jobs to China and Vietnam, where the average hourly wage is $0.56 per hour?
Isn’t all of what Bernie Sanders has been saying is a call for equity and justice for all rather than merely the super rich, the 1%, the American aristocracy? His twelve steps forward remind me of those once highly regarded American ideals and proposals of our most popular President of all time—Franklin Delano Roosevelt—who endorsed them over 80 years ago!
Yes, Old Uncle Bernie Sanders may indeed be an anachronism from the 1960s and the 1930s. But he hasn’t moved to the far left; he has merely remained where he was in the late 1960s. The country, through corporate ownership of our elected officials and of the media, has shifted way to the right.
And we, the American people, have been hustled to this far right by the birds of paradise mating dances of both the Democratic and Republican parties. We just didn’t notice, however, that we were being hokey-pokeyed by these political parties. Why? Because it execution was, and is, kabuki theater at its finest!
Bernie Sanders: I’m not running against Hillary Clinton. I am running for the democratic nomination for president of the United States. Hillary Clinton is a candidate. I am a candidate. I suspect that there will be other candidates.
The people in this country will make their choice. I have known Eleizabeth Warren for many, many years. I think Elizabeth Warren is doing a great job in the Senate. She is a good friend of mine. And I think our views parallel on many, many issues.
But we are going to take our campaign to the American people. I think we are going to have the support of a whole lot of working people in this country, people in the middle class, people concerned about the environment, people concerned about women’s rights. And I think that we are going to do just fine.
I am not going to have a Super PAC in this campaign, We have up to this point—we have only been in for a couple of week—received over 100,000 individual donations. And you know what the average donation was? About $42 a piece. That’s the world I live in.
I don’t go to fund raisers where millionaires sit around rooms, saying here’s a million, here’s five million for your Super PAC. That’s not my life. That’s not my world.
And I think the American people are saying that is not what our politics should be about; that is not what our democracy should be about.
I think we have a message that resonates. It resonates in Vermont, and I think it is going to resonate all over this country. Don’t underestimate me.
Bernie Sanders does not have to win the Iowa primary; however, if the gets 35%, 40%, or 45% of the vote, that would set him up nicely for the New Hampshire primary, next door to his state of Vermont.
Steve Kornacki: There is news this week happening on the democratic side. You’re going to have two candidates. It looks like getting into the race running against Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, is going to do this in Vermont on Tuesday.
…I think there’s some real energy behind Sanders right now.
…There is an authenticity to him, of frustration with the system, I think there is something there that connects with [many people]….
Steve Kornacki: They know he is upset with the system, basically [wants to] blow up the system. Robert Costa, what do you think of that comparison between Bernie Sanders and Ron Paul?
Robert Costa: I think Sanders could actually be a more potent political figure than Ron Paul.
When I was in Cedar Falls, Iowa, this week following Secretary Clinton, there was a group of about a dozen college students outside all supporting Bernie Sanders. There was a group of labor organizers holding signs pressuring Clinton on the trade deal and very disappointed with her lack of a stance.
There is a movement, especially in a place like Iowa that even Clinton has now acknowledged that Bernie Sanders could get 35, 40, maybe even 45% if it becomes a grassroots movement. He doesn’t need to win Iowa but if he can show in Iowa, then he goes into his neighboring state of New Hampshire and he could become a problem.
Steve Kornacki: There it is. I mean, that’s the thing. It does set up. The first two states, Iowa with the populist grassroots, New Hampshire, right next door to Vermont, northern New Hampshire sharing the Burlington media market, starts to make you say what if, a little bit….
STELTER: Now, coming up here on RELIABLE SOURCES, attacking Hillary Clinton, we could call it a common sport for Republican presidential wannabes. But one non-Republican candidate says he thinks it’s the only way he can get airtime here on CNN and elsewhere. Hear what he says about that right after the break.
STELTER: We are back with more RELIABLE SOURCES. And this next segment is about something you probably noticed about
election coverage. Each week, a new presidential candidate jumps into an already crowded race, mostly on the Republican side. But there are also declared candidates besides Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side, including Bernie Sanders and soon Martin O’Malley.
Clinton has been taking a lot of heat from the media for ignoring the media, and I think that heat is perfectly appropriate. She did answer some questions from reporters early in the week and she says she’s now planning a big campaign event in mid-June.
Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders has appeared on multiple networks. He’s willing to answer almost any question, but it seems sometimes all anyone wants to talk about is Hillary.
What got me thinking about this is what Sanders said last Sunday here on CNN on “STATE OF THE UNION.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: The American people want to hear serious discussions why they’re working longer hours for lower wages. They want to know about why year after year, we have these disastrous trade agreements, why the rich get richer and everybody else gets poorer? Are you and the media prepared to allow us to engage in that serious debate, or do I have to make media attention by simply making reckless attacks on Hillary Clinton or anybody else? I don’t believe in that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: So, are journalists giving that campaign a fair shake?
Senator Bernie Sanders is here with me now on set to talk about that. Thanks for being here.
SANDERS: My pleasure.
STELTER: It’s rare to hear a candidate or any politician really talk about the systemic issues in the press the way you did last week. I kind of lit up when I heard it, and I wondered, is it a winning strategy for you to be going at the press?
SANDERS: Look, I don’t know if it’s a winning strategy or not, but this is what I do know: the middle class of this country is disappearing despite the fact that people are working longer hours and they’re earning lower wages. We have seen an explosion in technology and productivity and yet all of the increase in income and wealth is going to the top 1 percent. Do you think that that’s an important issue to discuss?
According to the scientific community, climate change is the great planetary crisis we now face. Do you think we might want to be discussing that issue?
You have the top 1/10th of 1 percent now owning more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. I’m the ranking member of the budget committee. I dealt with the Republican budget which throws 27 million people off of health insurance, cuts educational programs by tens of billions of dollars, gives tax breaks to billionaires. Do you know how much coverage that got, outside of the political gossip? Virtually nothing.
Last year, I had the president of CBS, NBC, ABC — and we talked to them. Why is it you’re not covering climate change significantly? OK?
STELTER: So, what happened in that meeting?
SANDERS: Well, actually, a couple weeks later, there was a lot of discussion about climate change. But the scientific community is virtually unanimous in telling us that climate change is real, already causing devastating problems and that we have to reverse course. Do you think we’re seeing that kind of discussion in the media?
STELTER: Some Republicans will hear about that meeting you had with the presidents of some of the networks and say — the news divisions of the networks — and say that sounds like some sort of inappropriate coordination between the government and the press.
SANDERS: Inappropriate coordination. To ask them, well, we’re not discussing the major planetary crisis facing us? I don’t think so.
STELTER: But the rebuttal would be, the press should make up its own mind collectively about what should be a priority to be covered.
SANDERS: The answer is, of course, the American people and elected officials can weigh in as well. No one is telling them, no one is forcing them.
But when the scientific community tells us something is enormously important, maybe, just maybe, we may want to be discussing it.
STELTER: With your campaign now a few weeks in, are you finding that the media is taking it seriously or are you finding they’re using you only as a foil to Hillary Clinton to get headlines?
SANDERS: I think we are doing pretty well. And I think the media — we have gotten more serious discussion on our issues than I might have thought about.
But this is what I worry about. In terms of campaign coverage…
SANDERS: … there is more coverage about the political gossip of a campaign, about raising money, about polling, about somebody saying something dumb, or some kid works for a campaign sends out something stupid on Facebook, right? We can expect that to be a major story.
But what your job is, what the media’s job is, is to say, look, these are the major issues facing the country. We’re a democracy. People have different points of view. Let’s argue it.
STELTER: Fundamentally, you’re describing what is the systemic issue in press, in the nation’s news media, which is an interesting spectacle over policy.
SANDERS: To me, it is astounding. And correct me if you think I’m wrong. When you have ABC, CBS, and NBC not devoting one minute to the most significant trade agreement in the history of the United States of America, help me out, help me out. Give me an explanation.
STELTER: They might say they’re covering it on the Web site.
STELTER: They might say there are niche outlets that can do a better job covering it in this day and age on the Internet.
SANDERS: Not a good answer.
SANDERS: I mean, television is an important medium. You cannot ignore that. You cannot ignore the reality of income and wealth inequality.
You cannot ignore the fact that Citizens United is undermining our democratic way of life. Now, there are two sides to the story. I’m not saying everybody has got to agree with me, but have that issue, have that debate. That’s what elections should be about.
STELTER: Some people might say, how do you do that in a way that keeps people watching, that gets people stay tuned and not turn the channel?
SANDERS: Oh, all right, good question, good question. All right.
So, let me back it up. About a year ago, there was a poll out there. Pollsters asked the American people, tell me which political party controls the U.S. Senate and controls the U.S. House? That was a year ago, when the Democrats controlled the Senate.
STELTER: It’s always disappointing to see how many people are wrong with their answers.
SANDERS: Sixty-three percent of the people in this country did not know that answer.
Who bears responsibility for that? Does the media bear any responsibility? How do you have a serious discussion? If you don’t like what’s going on in Washington, which nobody does, who are you going to Plame if you don’t know which party controls what? So I think that, instead of coming up with the next news of the
moment, breaking news, there was an automobile accident, a cat got run over, here is breaking news. For 40 years, the American middle class has been disappearing and the rich have been getting richer. Why?
STELTER: I have an idea for you.
STELTER: Bernie Sanders, cable news president.
SANDERS: All right. Are you offer — are you making me that offer on behalf of CNN?
STELTER: Oh, I don’t think I’m able to make that offer.
SANDERS: I accept it.
STELTER: But it sounds like you have got some ideas.
SANDERS: I just think that, as a nation, no matter what our political point of view is, I would hope that we are concerned about the state of American democracy. We need serious discussion about serious issues.
STELTER: I want to briefly go back to the issue about Hillary Clinton. I don’t want to become a parody of this conversation by focusing on it, because that would miss the point.
STELTER: But I wonder what it’s been like for the past few weeks, as you have officially declared? Do you wake up some mornings and think, well, the way I’m going to get attention today is to criticize Hillary Clinton?
SANDERS: Well, look…
STELTER: Are you leaning in to that reality of the media?
SANDERS: You’re looking — of course Hillary Clinton and anybody else deserves criticism. When you have different points of view, I guess that’s what criticism is about.
But I will tell you that I have never run a negative political ad in the state of Vermont in my life. People of Vermont know that. I just don’t think that that’s what politics is about. So, will I criticize Hillary Clinton on her position of TPP, or the lack of position? Will I criticize her on her views of Wall Street? Will I criticize her on foreign policy?
That’s what democracy is about. But taking cheap shots at people, making it personal, I don’t think that’s what politics should be about.
STELTER: Senator Sanders, thank you for being here this morning.