In his address, Bernie decried the notion that his ideas were fringe or not mainstream, citing the 22 primary contests he won decisively plus 5 additional primary contests where he lost by less than two percent of the vote. He called out mainstream media’s determining that his campaign was not to be taken seriously.
Drawing attention to the “overwhelming majority” of voters aged 45 and under who supported his campaign, “sometimes by yooge numbers” as an unexpected result of the political revolution Sanders initiated, he referred to them as “the future of our country,” and laid out some impressive statistics:
- 1.5 million people attended rallies around the nation
- 75 million phone calls were made to voters by volunteers
- 5 million doors were knocked on by volunteer canvassers
- 74,000 meeting were hosted
Sanders used the above to bolster his claim that one needn’t rely on “big money interests” to run a national campaign for the presidency. He declared, “we took on virtually the entire political establishment: US Senators, members of Congress, governors, mayors, state legislators, and local party leaders.” Thanking the few elected officials who stood with him, he urged them to continue working together into the future.
Reiterating his conviction that his campaign isn’t about electing a single person but rather launching a political revolution to transform America, he continued raising the talking points of grotesque levels of income inequality, a corrupt campaign finance system, creating an economy that works for all, and fighting back against the greed of the super-wealthy and corporations that have destroyed the American working and middle classes.
Sanders enumerated a number of the issues he labeled as “disgraceful” that arose during his campaign:
- Native Americans (especially on the Pine Ridge, SD reservation) whose life expectancy is lower than that of third-world nations;
- youth dying at an earlier age than their parents due to the despair that low wages and unemployment bring, which lead them lead to drugs, alcohol, and suicide;
- having the highest rate of childhood poverty of any industrialized nation;
- the failure of inner-city public schools to educate our children, leading to mass incarceration;
- the exploitation of undocumented immigrants who work without any legal rights or recourse;
- the premature death of “tens of thousands of Americans” due to inadequate or nonexistent access to healthcare as well as needed prescription medications;
- the inability of intelligent students to attend college because their families can’t afford to send them;
- the struggle millions of college graduates face in repaying their student loans;
- the struggle of women to provide for their families on low wages;
- the poisoning of our children due to lead and other contaminants;
- the increasing homelessness of our veterans;
- the ever-increasing cost of housing outpacing families’ incomes, resulting in families paying more than half “of their limited incomes just to put a roof over their heads”;
- the continued ability of “corporations making billions of dollars in profits avoid paying a nickel in federal taxes” in a given year;
Sanders did not mention Hillary Clinton, saying instead, “the major political task we face in the next five months is to make certain that Donald Trump is defeated, and defeated badly.” He vowed to begin his role in that process “in a very short period of time” but cautioned that defeating Trump “cannot be our only goal,” calling for a continuation of the grassroots efforts “to create the America we know we can become” into the Democratic National Convention.
Sanders finally discussed his meeting with Clinton. He said they “discussed some of the very important issues facing our country and the Democratic Party...I look forward in the coming weeks to continued discussions between the two to make certain that your voices are heard and that the Democratic Party passes the most progressive platform in its history and the Democrats actually fight for that agenda.” He said he looks forward to working with Clinton to transforming the Democratic Party “so that it becomes a party of working people and young people and not just wealthy campaign contributors, a party that has the guts to take on Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry, the fossil fuel industry and the other powerful special interests that dominate so much of our political and economic life.”
Calling for a new Democratic Party platform, Sanders laid out a number of his campaign issues that should be included:
- a $15 national minimum wage
- creation of millions of jobs rebuilding our national infrastructure
- pay equity
- women's rights, including the right of women to choose what to do with their own bodies
- LGBTQ rights, including marriage equality in all 50 states
- banning assault weapons (referencing the recent tragedy in Orlando) and other gun control measures (instant background checks, closing the gun show loophole),
- defeat of the TPP and other “bad trade deals”
- expansion of Social Security benefits
- a modern-day Glass-Steagall act
- break up the too-big-to-fail financial institutions
- aggressively combating climate change
- transforming our energy system to sustainable energy
- Increase energy efficiency
- carbon tax
- protection of water supplies by banning fracking
- tuition-free public education
- substantial reduction of student debt
- healthcare for all as a right
- real reformation of the criminal justice system
- comprehensive immigration reform with a path toward citizenship
- reduce waste and cost overruns in every branch of government
- ensure our troops are not engaged in perpetual warfare
The political revolution means much more than fighting for our ideals at the Democratic National Convention and defeating Donald Trump. It means that at every level we continue to fight to make our society a nation of economic, social, racial, and environmental justice. It means that we can no longer ignore the fact that sadly, the current Democratic Party leadership has turned its back on dozens of states and has allowed rightwing politicians to win elections in some states with virtually no opposition, including some of the poorest states in our country.He demanded the Democratic Party create a 50-state strategy, stating that the only way to win in the future is to develop organizations that can effectively compete against the right wing, which will require providing resources to states that have been ignored and neglected. Sanders said that the Democratic party’s leadership “needs to open its doors and welcome into its ranks working people and young people,” which he described as the people who have the energy and willingness to transform our country.
Sanders turned to the failure of current Democratic Party leadership: 900 legislative seats lost to Republicans since 2009, resulting in Republican control of 31 state legislatures, with 23 states having both the executive and legislative branches under Republican control. He cited these facts as unacceptable.
He also provided a solution to the party’s problems; “We need to start engaging at the local and the state level in an unprecedented way.” Sanders explains that the hundreds of thousands of volunteers who helped make history and who are deeply concerned about the future of our nation need to run for office. He emphasized that state & local governments make enormously important decisions and as such we cannot allow right-wing governments to control them. Sanders hopes many of those watching his live address are prepared to engage at that level and offers a tool to help them on their journey: A segment of his web site at http://BernieSanders.com/win will provide information to his supporters on how to get involved in politics at the local/state level and continue the political revolution.
Sands holds no doubt a significant number of local/state elections can be won by his supporters if they are prepared to become involved and further hopes people will give serious thought to running for statewide office, as well as for Congress. He chronicles a need for new blood in the political process, telling his supporters, "You are that new blood."
Rounding back to the political revolution, Sanders describes "Transforming America" as not just being about the elections. Sanders states his belief that the Republicans believe in eliminating government and private most if not all aspects of it, a belief with which he strongly disagrees:
In a democratic, civilized society, government must play an enormously important role in protecting all of us and our planet. But in order for government to work efficiently and effectively, we need to attract great and dedicated people from all walks of life. We need people who are dedicated to public service and who can provide the services we need in a high quality and efficient way. When we talk about a Medicare for all health program … it means that we need tens of thousands of new doctors, nurses, dentists, psychologists, and other medical personnel who are prepared to practice in areas where people today lack access to that care. It means that we need hundreds of thousands of people to become childcare workers and teachers so that our young people will get the best education available in the world. It means that as we combat climate change and transform our energy system away from fossil fuels, we need scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs who will help us make energy efficiency, solar energy, wind energy, geothermal, and other developing technologies as efficient and cost-effective as possible. It means that as we rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, we need millions of skilled and well-trained construction workers of all kinds. It means that when we talk about growing our economy and creating jobs, we need need great business people who can produce and distribute the products and services that we need in a way that respects their employees and the environment. In other words, we need a new generation of people actively involved in public service who are prepared to provide the quality of life the American people deserve.Sanders ends by thanking everyone involved in his campaign, "We have begun the long and arduous process of transforming America," a process he describes that will continue well into the future. He offers his hope that historians will view the beginnings of the reversal of America’s drift toward oligarchy in the political revolution of 2016 and that we can move forward in creating a government that represents all of the people and not just the few.
Watch his speech in its entirety: