By Paul Krehbiel
The economy is rigged and meant to benefit those on top, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said to a cheering crowd that packed the LA Sport Arena on Mon., Aug. 10. Almost all the wealth created since the great recession went to the top 1%. We have more billionaires, and also the highest rate of child poverty. There’s something profoundly wrong. We’re going to do something about that. The day after the LA rally Sanders out polled Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, 44-37, the first primary state.
Symone Sanders, no relation to Bernie, is his newly appointed press spokesperson and was MC of the rally. She began with an attack on the rampant killings of unarmed African Americans by white police officers and vigilantes. She said that protests continue to rock Ferguson, MO one year after the killing of unarmed Michael Brown. A young African American woman and supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, she told the crowd, No candidate is going to fight harder for criminal justice reform and racial justice issues than Senator Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders has a long history of support for African American rights beginning with his active participation in the civil rights movement in the 1960s. He has developed a plan for his presidential campaign to combat physical, political, legal, and economic violence against people of color. When Bernie took the stage he allied himself with the goals of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Sanders, independent US Senator from VT, has stunned the political establishment after drawing huge crowds at his rallies. There were 27,000 people in LA, and a few days earlier 28,000 in Portland, and 15,000 in Seattle. Over 10,000 people attended an earlier rally in Madison, WI, and 9,000 in Portland, ME. His message and program is striking a chord with voters. ìIn the last 30 years there’s been a huge distribution of wealth from the middle class and working families to the top 1/10 of 1%,î Sanders has explained. Our goal is to reverse that, redistribute wealth back into the hands of working families. Sanders is picking up important support, from National Nurses United, United Electrical Workers (UE), and many local unions and community organizations.
What this campaign is all about, he told the crowd in Madison, is creating a political revolution, that involves millions of people in a grassroots campaign.
Here’s his 13 point election platform for economic, social and political justice.
1. Rebuild crumbling infrastructure. Invest $1 trillion to repair roads, bridges, water systems, schools, and other public facilities, which would create 13 million good paying jobs.
2. Racial justice. Demilitarize the police, prosecute police crimes, and establish community control of the police. Stop disenfranchisement of people of color voters, and fund a $5.5 billion federal jobs program for youth, with a special focus on those suffering most ñ Black and brown youth.
3. Reverse climate change. The US should be a world leader in transitioning away from polluting fossil fuels and into energy efficient wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass to create millions of green jobs.
4. Create worker co-ops. Create businesses that workers own and operate, increasing quality and worker contentment, instead of giving huge tax breaks to corporations who ship jobs overseas.
5. Grow the union movement. Union workers bargain for and have won higher wages and benefits than non-union workers. Pass a law that will give workers a union when a majority sign union authorization cards.
6. Raise the current minimum wage. Double the national minimum wage of $7.25. No one who works 40 hours a week should live in poverty.
7. Pay equity for women. Women earn 78 percent of men for comparable work. We need equal pay for equal work.
8. Fair trade. Since 2001 we have lost more than 60,000 factories and nearly 5 million manufacturing job to overseas low wage countries. End disastrous trade policies (NAFTA, CAFTA and others) and stop the Trans Pacific Partnership to save jobs.
9. Make college affordable for all. Free tuition at public colleges and reduce massive student debt so students are trained for good jobs without facing financial burdens.
10. Take on Wall Street. Six huge financial institutions have assets equal to 61% of our gross domestic product ñ over $9.8 trillion. They plunged our country into the Great Recession of 2008. Too-big-to-fail banks need to be broken up.
11. Health care for All. 40,000,000 Americans have no health insurance, yet we spend twice as much per capita as any other country. We need an improved Medicare for All, single-payer system.
12. Protect the most vulnerable. Millions of seniors and children live in poverty. We must protect and expand Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and nutrition programs.
13. Real Tax reform. With massive income and wealth inequality, we need a progressive tax system based on ability to pay. Some major corporations pay nothing in federal income taxes, and many stash cash in offshore tax havens, costing our country $100 billion a year. This must be stopped, and everyone must pay their fair share.
To learn more and to get involved go to: berniesanders.com.
Paul Krehbiel is a volunteer for Sanders for President. He is a long time trade unionist, and was active with United Electrical workers (UE) and Service Employees Intl. Union (SEIU).