Bernie Sanders photo

Remarks at the New Hampshire Democratic Party Convention in Manchester

September 19, 2015

New Hampshire plays a unique role in the American political process, and I want to thank all of you for inviting me to be with you today. Your hard work not only makes New Hampshire a better place in which to live and work, but impacts all of America.

When I announced my candidacy 4 1/2 months ago, I think that it's fair to say that few people took our campaign seriously. But a lot has changed in these last few months.

All across the country we have drawn some of the largest turnouts of this campaign, and what I am particularly excited about is that many of those getting involved are young people who have not previously been involved in the political process.

Hundreds of thousands of people have signed on with our campaign as volunteers and, as we speak, our volunteers are knocking on doors across the country, are on the phone and are actively engaged in social media for the campaign.

We have, I believe, received more individual campaign contributions than any other presidential campaign, well over 400,000. And in this day of super-PACs and huge campaign contributions I am proud to tell you that our average contribution is somewhere around $31.20. I do not represent the corporate agenda or the billionaire class — and I do not want their money and I do not and will not have a Super-PAC. This is a people's campaign and we will win or lose based on the support we get from working people and the middle class.

I come from a family which did not have a lot of money. My dad came here from Poland at the age of 17 without a nickel in his pocket and we grew up without money in a 3 1/2 room rent controlled apartment in Brooklyn, NY. Some of you may recall an old union song which asks: "Which side are you on?" Well, I know which side I am on. I am a proud progressive, prepared to stand with the working families of this country; prepared to take on powerful special interests which wield enormous power over the economic and political life of this country. That is what I did yesterday, that is what I do today and that is what I will do if elected president of the United States.

Now, let me suggest something that some of you will agree with and some of you may not. In my view, the Republicans did not win the mid-term election last November. We lost that election because voter-turnout was abysmally low, and millions of working people, minorities and young people gave up on "politics as usual" and stayed home.

Let me be very clear. In my view, Democrats will not retain the White House, will not regain the Senate, will not gain the House and will not be successful in dozens of governor's races unless we run a campaign which generates excitement and momentum and which produces a large voter turnout. Democrats win when the turnout is high. Republicans win when the turnout is low.

And how do we do that? How do we generate the excitement on the ground, how do we get those who are disillusioned back into the political process, how do we get young people involved, how do we get working class Republicans to stop voting against heir own best interests? With all due respect, that will not happen with politics as usual. The same old, same old will likely not be successful.

The people of our country understand that we are much better off economically today than we were 7 years ago when President Bush left office and we were hemorrhaging 800,000 jobs a month and the world's financial system was on the verge of collapse.

But they also understand that for the last 40 years the great middle class of this country has been disappearing and all over NH and VT and across the country millions of people are working 2 or 3 jobs to cobble together enough income and health care to sustain their families and we have more people living in poverty than almost any time in our history.

And they understand that while the very, very rich get richer, that while there has been a massive transfer of wealth from working families to the top one-tenth of of one percent, and while we have more income and wealth inequality now than at any time since 1928, we do not need more establishment politics or establishment economics.

The American people are catching on that we need a political movement which is prepared to take on the billionaire class and create a government which represents all Americans, and not just the people on top and wealthy campaign donors.

In other words, we need a movement which takes on the economic and political establishment, not one which is part of it.

We need a movement which tells corporate America and the wealthy that they will start paying their fair share of taxes. No. Multi- national corporations are not going to continue stashing their billions in profits in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens and, in a given year, pay not a nickel in federal taxes — while children in this America go hungry. No. The CEOs of large corporations are not going to continue getting huge compensation packages and incredible pensions, while they cuts the wages, health care and pensions of their workers. No. We're not going to continue disastrous trade policies which have cost us millions of decent paying jobs as companies shut down here and move to China and other low wage countries.

Corporate greed is destroying this country and, whether they like it or not, that. Greed and destructiveness is going to end.

We need a movement which tells Wall Street that when a bank is too big to fail, it is too big to exist. That we will reinstate Glass-Steagall and break up those huge banks which have a stranglehold over our economy. That we will create a financial system which provides affordable loans to small and medium size businesses, not maintain a financial system which is an island unto itself — designed to make huge profits for the few.

We need a movement which will work with the trade union movement to end our disastrous trade policies, and that includes defeating the disastrous TPP.

We need a movement which says that every worker in America deserves a living wage, and that we will raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next few years; that we will provide pay equity to women workers and that we will end the international disgrace of being the only major country on earth that does not provide at least 12 weeks of family and medical leave, not to mention paid sick time and vacation time.

We need a movement which says that, when real unemployment is over 10 percent and youth unemployment is off the charts, we need to create millions of decent paying jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure.

We need a movement which tells the Koch Brothers and the billionaire class that they will not be able to continue buying candidates and elections and that we will overturn this disastrous Citizen's United Supreme Court decision and move toward public funding of elections. And we will not allow Republican governors and legislatures to get away with Voter suppression

We need a movement which understands that climate change is real, is caused by human activity and that we need to lead the world in transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy. And that includes defeating the Keystone pipe line line.

We need a movement that says, in a highly competitive global economy, that all of our people who have the ability, the qualifications and the desire, will be able to get a college education regardless of the income of their families because we will make public colleges and universities tuition free — and we're going to pay for it through a tax on Wall Street speculation.

We need a movement which, once and for all, will end institutional racism in our country and reform a very, very broken criminal justice system. We must not continue being the country in the world with more people in jail than any other — disproportionately people of color. We must become the country in the world which invests in jobs and education, not in jails and incarceration.

And when we talk about bringing our country together, we cannot forget that there are 11 million people here who are undocumented. We must provide legal protections for them, we must pass comprehensive immigration reform and we must provide a path towards citizenship. And we must be clear that the racist and unAmerican idea that we are going to round up millions of people in the dead of night is unacceptable in this great country of ours.

You are looking at a former Congressman who did not believe George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld and who voted against the war in Iraq, one of the worst foreign policy blunders in modern American history. And you are looking at a senator who will stand with President Obama in preventing Iran from getting a nuclear, but will do it in a way that prevents another war.

Let me conclude by saying this: We will win in 2016, not just the White House, the U.S. Senate and U.S. House, but state houses all across the country because we are going to create an unprecedented grass-roots movement which taps into the American people's desire for real change in this country.

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Bernie Sanders, Remarks at the New Hampshire Democratic Party Convention in Manchester Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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