The Speech Bernie Sanders Should Have Given on Democratic Socialism
My friends, we’re almost there.
The Democratic primary is almost over. It’s been a long and tough fight. We’ve had to swim against the tidal wave of the Democratic establishment and big donor money.
Nobody can deny that we won big. But we have to accept that the other guy won bigger. We’ve reached a turning point, up against the ropes, with little time left to turn things around.
But make no mistake. We will not bow out of this fight. However treacherous the road may be, whatever the pundits on television say about the state of our campaign, we press on. Because our fight is one for the future of America.
My friends, I invite you to think back to the greatest moments of our history as a nation. The moments that have come to define our character as Americans. What comes to mind? Abolishing slavery. Defeating fascism in Europe. Lifting millions out of poverty with a New Deal. Putting the first man on the moon.
What do these achievements have in common? Let me tell ya’: They were born out of a single, bold idea.
Today, America is suffering from a crisis of ideas. We see it right now with the coronavirus. The scariest thing about this epidemic is that those in charge have no idea what they’re doing. Over the last three-and-a-half years, the White House has basically become an idea-free zone.
We used to come up with bold ideas by putting our morals and our character first. We would first imagine what was right, who we wanted to be as a nation, and then look at what needed to be done to get us there. No idea was too big for us to achieve, as long as we worked together.
But now, it’s the other way around. While the great ideas of the past have driven us toward unprecedented economic growth, now, instead of valuing the ideas, we’ve come to value the growth itself. Our obsession for wealth has created a record-breaking divide between the haves and the have-nots; between the handful of powerful billionaires and the overwhelming majority of the American people.
Well, I’m sorry, but that’s not my vision for America. That’s not who I want us to be. I’m running for President because I don’t accept the America I see today. I don’t accept that the top 0.1% owns more of this country than the bottom 50%. I don’t accept that over 27 million people in America have no health insurance. I don’t accept that even among those who do, half a million people go bankrupt every year because of medical debt.
Our campaign has always been about putting ideas first. At its core, America is country of compassion. We believe that all individuals are created equal and should enjoy the same fundamental human rights. We believe that healthcare is one of those human rights, and that as long as people are dying because they couldn’t afford proper care, we are failing as a nation.
But we’re told by the elites of this country that Medicare for All would be too expensive. That it would cost too many dollars.
It would be expensive, that’s true, but if every other developed country on the planet can find a way to make it work, we can too. In fact, as the richest country on Earth, if we put our minds to it, we could make it work more efficiently than anywhere else.
So yeah, the price of Medicare for All may be high, but not too high. More importantly, it’s a price that’s measured in dollars. Whereas the price of not having Medicare for All is measured in human lives. The lives of the most vulnerable among us: our poor, our working class, our minorities, those among us with pre-existing conditions.
Our failure to take care of us who need it is why I don’t believe in the billionaire class. Not because they’re bad people — many of them are probably lovely. But because as a society, we have yet to guarantee that every one of us has access to affordable healthcare, housing, education and employment. We shouldn’t be allowing — through low taxes, loopholes and poor regulation — a few individuals to suck out the wealth of this nation while so many are still suffering.
That’s why I’m a democratic socialist. I do not believe that everybody should be paid exactly the same and that government should own all property, that’s just fearmongering from the right. What I believe is that our greatest priority as a nation is to guarantee that every single person in this country has a decent living, and then, once we get there, we can have free and fair competition over what’s left over.
It seems like such a simple and common-sense idea, right? Get rid of suffering first, and only then let people compete for wealth or fame or whatever makes you happy. Yet somehow, I’ve been labelled as a radical. I guess it’s no coincidence that those who gave me that label are the people who benefit the most from this unfair system.
My ideas are not radical. They’re bold. They’re the kind of bold leadership and vision that America needs to bring our society into the future.
My opponent is a good man, who also believes that the working class of America deserves more support. The difference is in where our priorities lie. He believes money and growth should come first. He wants to keep the system going, just shaving a bit off the top so that those who need it can have a little bit more.
That may help for a few years, the way the Affordable Care Act has helped many Americans, but in the long run, it’s not going to be enough. We can’t keep going this way. We can’t keep prioritizing the stock market over the health and well-being of our people.
America is already the richest country on the face of the Earth. We did it. We got there. Now, let’s act like it. Let’s show the world what it means to be American. Show the world what it looks like to be a citizen of the most powerful nation that ever was.
Let’s stop using our wealth and power as a tool to make more wealth and power. Instead, let’s use it to bring people out of poverty, guarantee a life of decency for everyone, and become the gold standard for freedom and human rights around the world.
That’s what this election is about. We have the opportunity, as a movement, to put bold ideas back in the driving seat of the great American experience. To disprove those who tell us that realizing fundamental human rights is too radical, too ambitious, or can’t be done. To come together as a community and claim with one thunderous voice that human life comes before profit.
If you believe in this vision for America, chances are, you’re probably a democratic socialist too. Come join our movement. Whoever you may be, you’re welcome here. It’s not about Right versus Left, Democrat versus Republican. It’s not about me. It’s about us. All of us.
I don’t care what the establishment and the elites say. I don’t care how much money they throw at us. How much they smear us on television.
Together, we are the future of America.
Together, we are unstoppable.