Bernie Sanders

Remarks at a Campaign Rally in Carson, California

May 17, 2016

Hello! Thank you! Thank you, Carson! [applause]

Let me -- let me begin by thanking all of you. What a fantastic turnout. Thank you so much. [applause]

And let me thank Jim Sobel, and Nick Zano, and Francis Fisher, and Hollis Longwear, and Adriana Aravalo, and Gil Sedilio, Kendrick Sampson -- and let me give a special thanks to a very good friend of mine and one of the great actors in our country, Danny Glover. [applause]

Danny is not only an extraordinary actor but, as many of you know, he has spent his entire adult life fighting for economic justice, social justice, racial justice. Danny, thank you for all that you have done. [applause]

Let me also take this opportunity to say a word of thanks to the people of Kentucky. In a closed primary -- something I am not all that enthusiastic about where independents are not allowed to vote... [boos] ... where Secretary Clinton defeated Barack Obama by 250,000 votes in 2008, it ends up tonight we're going to end up with about half of the delegates from Kentucky. [applause]

I want to thank you all for coming out because this is, in a sense, the beginning of the final push to win California. [applause]

When we -- and by the way, I should tell you that there are a lot of people out there -- many of the pundits and politicians -- they say "Bernie Sanders should drop out." [boos]

"The people of California should not have the right to determine who the next president will be." [boos]

Well, let me be as clear as I can be. I agree with you. We are in until the last ballot is cast. [applause]

You know, when we began this campaign a little over a year ago, we were 60 points behind Secretary Clinton in the polls. We had no political organization, no money, very little name recognition. The media and the pundits determined that we were a fringe candidacy. [boos]

And nobody -- nobody thought that this campaign was going anywhere. And on top of all of that, we were taking on the most powerful political organization in the country; an organization that elected Bill Clinton twice and ran a strong campaign for Hillary Clinton in 2008. [boos]

Well, a lot has changed in the last year. [applause]

As of today, we have won 19 state primaries and caucuses and over 9 million votes. [applause]

No one can predict the future, but I think we have a real shot to win primaries in a number of the states that will be coming up. [applause]

And don't tell Secretary Clinton; she might get nervous. I think we're going to win here in California. [applause]

And as all of you know, California has 475 pledged delegates. [applause]

And let me mention something else. I am especially proud that in, I believe, every primary and caucus, those we won and those we lost, we have received a significant majority of the votes of young people. [applause]

And by the way -- and by the way, one -- you know one of the things about getting older, the older you get, you know -- well, yeah -- people who are older appear to be younger. That's what it is. So, we are winning people 45 years of age or younger and what that tells me is that our vision, a vision of social justice, economic justice, racial justice, and environmental justice, that is the future of this country. [applause]

As of today, I am proud to tell you that taking on virtually the entire democratic establishment, almost all of the Senators, the Members of the House, mayors, governors -- we have won over 45% of the pledged delegates. [applause]

And in a couple of weeks if we can win big in New Jersey, New Mexico, North and South Dakota, Montana, California, we have the possibility. It will be a steep climb. I recognize that. But we have the possibility of going to Philadelphia with the majority of the pledged delegates. [applause]

Now, some people say that we've got a steep hill to climb to do that, and that is absolutely true. But you know what? Together we have been climbing that steep hill from day one in this campaign, and we're going to continue to fight for every last vote until June 14, and then we're going to take our fight into the convention. [applause]

You know, there is -- there is a lot of discussion about the role of super-PACs. [boos]

And I am very proud to tell you I am the only candidate running for president who does not have a super-PAC. We made a decision when we began this campaign that we were not going to beg Wall Street, or corporate America, or billionaires for campaign contributions. And as of today, without a super-PAC, we have received almost 8 million individual campaign contributions. Anybody know what that average contribution is? That's right, $27. And what that shows the world, in a time when big money is dominating our political process, is that you can run a strong, winning national campaign without begging billionaires for campaign contributions. [applause]

Let me -- let me also mention something that a lot of people may not be aware of and that is that virtually every national and state poll taken in the last six weeks -- in all of those polls, we are defeating Donald Trump. [applause]

And not only are we defeating Trump, in most cases by double digits, in almost every case, whether -- in almost every case, whether it is a national poll or state poll, we do much better against Trump then does Secretary Clinton. [applause]

A poll just came out -- I think it was yesterday in the state of Georgia -- not a very good state for us -- Trump was beating Secretary Clinton by four points, and we were beating him by five points.

If the Democratic -- if the Democratic Party wants to be certain that Donald Trump is defeated -- and that we must do -- we, together, are the campaign to do that. And it is not just -- it is not just the polls -- the polls go up, the polls go down. What it is, is that our campaign has the energy and the enthusiasm and the grassroots capability. [applause]

The grassroots capability to make certain that in November, in the general election, we have a huge voter turnout. Here is a political truism: when the voter turnout is low, and people are demoralized and don't come out to vote, Republicans win. When there is excitement, and energy, and people are prepared to stand up and fight back, progressives and Democrats win -- that is our campaign. [applause]

I don't have to explain to anybody here that the American people will not elect a candidate like Donald Trump who insults Mexicans and Latinos. [boos]

Who insults Muslims; who insults women and veterans; and who is a leader of the so-called birther movement, tries to delegitimize the presidency of our first African-American president. [boos]

We will not accept as President a man who wants to give hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to billionaire families like his, but who has told us that we do not have to worry about raising the starvation minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. We will not accept a President who recklessly talks about using nuclear weapons and who changes his mind every day on every issue. [boos]

Let me also say a word to the leadership of the Democratic Party. And that is -- that is -- that the Democratic Party is going to have to make a very, very profound and important decision. It can do the right thing and open its doors and welcome into the party people who are prepared to fight for real economic and social change. [applause]

That is the Democratic Party I want to see, bringing in people who are willing to take on Wall Street; to take on corporate greed; and to take on a fossil fuel industry which is destroying this planet. So I say to the leadership of the Democratic Party, open the door, let the people in.

Or, the other option -- the other option for the Democratic Party, which I see as a very sad and tragic option, is the truce to maintain its status quo structure, remain dependent on big money campaign contributions, and be a party with limited participation and limited energy; and a party which, incredibly, is allowing a right- wing extremist Republican Party to capture the votes of a majority of working people in this country. Now, I come from the working class of this country, and I will be damned -- I will be damned if we will allow the Republican Party, whose job is to represent the rich and the powerful, to win the votes of working-class Americans. Let me say a word about why I think this campaign is doing so well. You know why? Because we are doing something very unusual. We are telling the American people the truth. [applause]

And here is a very important truth. If we as a nation do not get our act together, this great nation is going to slip into in oligarchic form of society, where a handful of billionaires control our political and economic life. Let me tell you how absurd it is. It was just announced the other day, the Koch brothers -- the second wealthiest family in America, a family worth tens of billions of dollars, extremely right-wing -- are contributing over $40 million to try and make the United States Senate stay Republican; $40 million. And here is what is even crazier -- a guy named Sheldon Adelson, also one of the wealthiest people in America -- this is a billionaire who is prepared to contribute huge sums of money to another billionaire, named Donald Trump. The American people are sick and tired of billionaires running our economy and our political lives. [applause]

Together, we are going to overturn this disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, and we are going to move toward public funding of elections. I want this country to be a vibrant democracy, and that means whether you're progressive, conservative, or moderate, if you want to run for office, you should not have to beg millionaires for campaign contributions. [applause]

I want this country to have one of the highest voter turnout rates in the world, not one of the lowest. But before we will have the opportunity to defeat Donald Trump, we are going to have to defeat Secretary Clinton. [applause]

A campaign is about issues and ideas, and let me very briefly and straight-forwardly tell you some of the differences between Secretary Clinton and myself:

Number one, I am proud to tell you I don't have a super-PAC and I don't get money from Wall Street. Secretary Clinton has a number of super-PACs, and in the last filing period, reported receiving $15 million from Wall Street. Our job is to take on Wall Street, not take their money. [applause]

Federal minimum wage of $7.25 is a starvation wage. Secretary Clinton wants to raise that to $12 an hour. That is OK. but it is not good enough.

Hold that sign up, let everybody see it. We are talking about a fight for $15 an hour. I am proud to tell you, I have been on the picket line with those workers. They are standing up and fighting for a living wage, and all of us will stand with them. [applause]

My wife just tells me that CNN has called Oregon for Bernie Sanders. [applause]

We won. You know, we won a great victory in the state of Washington a few months ago. We just won Oregon. [applause]

And we are going to win California. [applause]

I am getting to like the West Coast. [applause]

This campaign -- when we talk about equitable wages, it is not just that -- you know, raising the minimum wage to a living wage. It is also ending the disgrace of women making $.79 on the dollar compared to men. And together, I know that every man here will stand with the women in the fight for pay equity. [applause]

I am a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Environment and I will tell you what all of you know, and that is that climate change is real. It is caused by human activity and, as everybody in California knows, it is already causing devastating problems. You in California have witnessed the devastating impact of climate change with your own eyes. You have seen historic wildfires, which scorched 118,000 acres of land here in California in 2014. You have seen massive mudslides; you have seen rising sea levels; you experienced a massive heatwave in 2006. We have a moral obligation -- a moral obligation to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels... [applause] ... to energy efficiency and sustainable energy. [applause]

In my view, if we are prepared to be aggressive in transforming our energy system, we need a tax on carbon. We cannot allow, with impunity, the fossil fuel industry to destroy our planet. I believe in a tax on carbon because I see climate change as one of the great global crises that we face. Secretary Clinton does not support a tax on carbon. [boos]

One of the great crises that we are beginning to see unfold is whether or not, in our country and around the world, we will have the clean drinking water that our people need. And that is why I believe we should move for a ban on fracking. [applause]

That is my view. Unfortunately, it is not Secretary Clinton's view. In fact -- in fact, when she was Secretary of State, she pushed fracking technology onto countries around the world. [boos]

The great -- the great foreign policy debate -- the most important debate that we have had in the modern history of our country centered around Iraq, and whether to go into Iraq. I listened very carefully to what President Bush, and Dick Cheney, and the others had to say. I voted against that war. [applause]

Secretary Clinton voted for that war. [boos]

I believe that when you have a handful of large financial institutions on Wall Street -- institutions who have a business model of fraud; institutions which through their illegal behavior and their greed drove this country into the worst economic downturn since the great depression -- I believe that now is the time to break them up! [applause]

That is my view. That is not Secretary Clinton's view. [boos]

One of the reasons that the middle class of this country has been in decline for the last 35 years has to do with a disastrous trade policy which has ended up shutting down thousands of factories in America, as companies shut down here -- the workers out on the street -- and move to China and other low-wage countries. [boos]

I voted against every one of those disastrous trade agreements. [applause]

Secretary Clinton supported almost all of them. [boos]

What this campaign is about is whether or not we are going to create an economy that works for all of us, or an economy that continues to work for the 1 percent. [boos]

It is not acceptable to me that in America today we have more income and wealth inequality than any other major country on Earth. It is worse now than at any time since 1928. It is not acceptable that the top one-tenth of 1 percent now owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. It is not acceptable to me that in my state of Vermont, and here in California, and all over this country, we have millions of people who are working not one job, but two jobs and three jobs to cobble together the income and health care they need. And yet, when mom works, dad works, and the kids work, it adds up that 58 percent of all new income goes to the top 1 percent. That is not acceptable. [boos]

This campaign is listening to the American people, and not just to wealthy campaign contributors. [applause]

This campaign is listening to young people. [applause]

And young people are asking me "how does it happen that when they do the right thing, when they go out and get the best education they can, they end up $30,000, $50,000, $70,000 in debt?" [boos]

We should not be punishing people for getting an education; we should reward them. [applause]

Forty or 50 years ago, if you had a high school degree, you were in pretty good shape. You could go out and get yourself a good job. Those days, by and large, are gone. We have a changing economy, changing technology, and a changing global economy. We need to have the best educated workforce in the world. [applause]

And that means that when we think about public education, it is not good enough now just to think about first grade through 12th grade. We need to make public colleges and universities tuition free. [applause]

I want every kid in California in the fourth grade, and in sixth grade -- kids in Vermont -- to understand that if they study hard and take school seriously, no matter what the income their family is, they will be able to get a college education. [applause]

How many people here are carrying student debt right now? [applause]

I have talked to people all over this country -- people $50,000, 100,000 -- $100,000 in debt. For what crime did they commit? That they went out and got a decent education? That is crazy stuff. So we are going to give people with student debt the right to refinance their loans at the lowest interest rate they can find. [applause]

And people say -- you know, my critics say "Well, Bernie, you're Santa Claus. You're giving away free tuition; you're going to lower student debt; how are going to you pay for it? I will tell you exactly how we will pay for it. In 2009, Congress, against my vote, bailed out the crooks on Wall Street. Today, Wall Street is doing just fine, and I think it is appropriate to impose a tax on Wall Street speculations. [applause]

And that tax will more than pay for free tuition and public colleges and universities and in lowering student debt. [applause]

Now, Wall Street does not like that idea, and I say, so what?

If we win this election, Wall Street and the other people who now run this country, are going to learn a very profound lesson. And that is, they will not continue to get it all. [applause]

I am sick and tired of the greed of corporate America and the greed of Wall Street. We need a new moral compass in this country. [applause]

You know, Pope Francis talks about a moral economy -- a moral economy, and I agree with him. That is what we need. [applause]

This campaign is listening to our Latino brothers and sisters. [applause]

My father -- my father came to this country at the age of 17 without a nickel in his pocket, so I know a little bit about the immigrant experience. [applause]

There are 11 million undocumented people in this country today. Many of them are being exploited on the job because when you don't have legal rights -- when you don't have legal rights, you can't stand up and protect yourself. And that is why I believe we must pass comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship. [applause]

And that is why I believe we must stop, immediately, the current deportation policy. And if Congress does not do its job, I will use the executive powers of the presidency to do it right. [applause]

This campaign is listening to our brothers and sisters in the African-American community. [applause]

And they are asking me a very simple but important question; how does it happen that this country has trillions of dollars to spend on a war in Iraq we never should have gotten into, but, somehow, we don't have the available funds to rebuild our inner cities? [applause]

I have been to Flint, Michigan and visited with parents whose children have been poisoned by lead in the water. [boos]

I have been to Detroit, Michigan where their public school system is on the verge of a physical collapse. [boos]

I have been to Baltimore, Maryland where tens of thousands of people are addicted to drugs and do not have the treatment available to get them off that heroin. [boos]

We, as a nation, together, are going to change our national priorities. [applause]

We are going to rebuild our inner cities, build affordable housing, and create decent schools for our children. [applause]

And this campaign is listening to people whose pain is almost never heard, and that is our Native American brothers and sisters. [applause]

We owe the first Americans a debt of gratitude that we can never repay. They have taught us so much, including the very important lesson that as human beings -- all of us are part of nature. We must live with nature. [applause]

And, we cannot continue to destroy nature, because if we destroy nature, we are destroying ourselves. [applause]

Together, this campaign, and our presidency are going to reform a broken criminal justice system. [applause]

It is not acceptable, I believe, to any of us, that we have 2.2 million people in jail today, more than any other country on Earth. [boos]

Instead of seeing kids around this country in inner cities or rural America, experiencing 40 percent, 50 percent unemployment rates, we are going to put those kids to work in good jobs. And we are going to invest in education for them, not jail or incarceration. [applause]

We want this country to be the best-educated country on Earth, not the country with more people in jail. [applause]

What this campaign is about is thinking outside of the box, outside of the status quo. Every other major country on Earth, whether it's the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Scandinavia, Canada -- every major country guarantees health care to all of their people as a right. [applause]

The Affordable Care Act has done some very good things, but we have a lot more to do. I believe, from the deepest part of my soul, that health care is a right, not a privilege. [applause]

Today, we have 29 million peoples with no insurance, even more who are underinsured, with large deductibles and copayments. And every one of us is getting ripped off by the greed of the drug companies. [boos]

Pharmaceutical industries charge us by far the highest prices in the world for the medicine we need. By the way, on the ballot in November here in California, you are going to have a proposition making sure that California can control the outrageously high cost of prescription drugs. [applause]

I congratulate those people who put that item on the ballot -- let's pass it. [applause]

Together, we will end the fact that we are the only country -- major country without health care for all -- that we pay far more per capita for health care than any other country. We are going to end that by passing a Medicare-for-all health care system. [applause]

Now, the insurance companies may not like it; the drug companies may not like it. But the American people do like it, and that's what we've got to do. [applause]

This campaign understands a very, very important historical lesson. That lesson is that no real change has ever occurred in our country from the top on down. It has always been from the bottom on up. [applause]

Think back -- think back 120 years ago, when workers in this country were forced to work seven days a week, 14 hours a day. They had no rights on the job. Think about the children -- 10, 11 years of age, losing fingers in factories, and what the working people of this country said. Sorry, we are human beings, we are not beasts of burden. We are going to form trade unions and negotiate contracts. [applause]

And I thank the trade union movement for creating the American middle class. [applause]

Think about 150 years ago, in the midst of the abomination of slavery. There were African Americans and their allies who were prepared to go to jail to get beaten, to get lynched, who stood up and said that they will come in this country when we will end racism, and bigotry, and segregation. [applause]

And over the years, millions of people were engaged in that struggle. Think about where we were as a country 100 years ago -- not such a long time ago. 100 years ago, women in America did not have the right to vote. They could not get the education or the job they wanted. But women stood up and fought back. [applause]

Women stood up to the establishment, which said to them "Your job is to stay home and have babies." [boos]

But women said "You will not define us. We will define ourselves." [applause]

And women and their male allies said loudly and clearly "Women in America will not be second-class citizens." [applause]

If we were here ten years ago -- no time at all -- somebody jumps up and says "You know Bernie, I think that, say, by the year 2015, gay marriage will be legal in every state in this country." [applause]

If somebody said that, the person next to them would have said "You are nuts." What happened? But what happened is the gay community and their straight allies stood up against incredible bigotry. [applause]

Against all kinds of abuse. And they said together that in this country, people should have the right to love whoever they want, regardless of their gender. [applause]

And let me give you a more contemporary example. If five years ago, somebody here stood up and said "Bernie, this $7.25 minimum wage, that's really awful and terrible, we've got to raise it to 15 bucks an hour", the person next to him what have said "$15 an hour? You are nuts. You are thinking too radically. You are an extremist." But then, what happened? We've got some of them here -- workers in the fast food industry went out on strike.

Workers -- workers in McDonalds, and in Burger King, and in Wendy's and Subway, and in all these places, they told their community and they told the world they cannot live on $7.25 an hour. And you know what happened after the strikes and demonstrations in Seattle, here in Los Angeles, in San Francisco? Fifteen dollars an hour. [applause]

And if I have anything to say about it -- and I will as President -- $15 an hour in every state in this country. [applause]

What is my point? Here is my point. Throughout -- let me kick off my point, but I want to...[laughter]...I want you to think about this: throughout history -- throughout history, people looked around them. If they were a worker, working seven days a week with no power, they saw that as being unjust, unfair. They stood up and they fought back. In the days of terrible segregation and slavery, people said "America will not be racist." Women fought back. The gay community fought back. Low income workers fought back. That's what change is about.

And right now -- right now, from coast-to-coast -- and I have been from Maine to California -- I have seen millions of people looking around them, and they're saying "Wait a second, what is going on in our country where we have such a grotesque level of income and wealth inequality, and almost all new income and wealth is going to the top 1 percent? What is going on when the middle class continues to disappear, and we have more children -- we have a higher rate of childhood poverty that almost any country on Earth? What is going on when we are the only major country on Earth not to guarantee paid family and medical leave? Not to guarantee health care to all people? What is going on when women are making 79 cents on the dollar?" [boos]

And when young people are leaving school $50,000 in debt. [boos]

Though what the establishment wants you to believe is that real change effectively dealing with these issues is impossible -- it's too big, it's too radical. [boos]

The options they want to give you -- the media wants to give you, Congress wants to give you -- should we cut food stamps or should we cut education? [boos]

We do not accept those choices. We're going to ask... [applause]

At a time of massive income and wealth inequality -- yeah, we are going to tell the wealthiest people in largest corporations, they are going to start paying their fair share in taxes. [applause]

If the American people are prepared to reject the Donald Trumps of the world who want to divide us up -- they want to divide us up -- but if we stand together as black, and white, and Latino, and Asian American, and Native American; if we stand together as gay and straight, male and female...[applause]

If we stand together as people born in this country and people who come into this country. [applause]

If we stand together and have the courage to take on the billionaire class -- to demand a government which represents all of us and not just the 1 percent -- together there is nothing we cannot accomplish.

As all of you know, in a few weeks there is going to be of an enormously important primary here in California. [applause]

And what I have found throughout this campaign is that we win primaries and caucuses when the voter turnout is high. We lose when it is low. Let us have, in the California Democratic primary, the largest voter turnout in the history of the state. [applause]

And let this great state show the world that you are prepared to help lead our nation into the political revolution. Thank you very much. [applause]

Bernie Sanders, Remarks at a Campaign Rally in Carson, California Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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