Bernie Sanders in Where We Go From Here, by Bernie Sanders

On Government Reform: Mainstream media focuses on gossip, lies, & personality

As a result of the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, billionaires are now able to spend hundreds of millions of dollars anonymously in ugly TV ads demonizing candidates who dare stand up to them.

The internet and social media now allow for the worldwide transmission of total lies, and the capability of targeting those lies to susceptible populations.

Further, recent studies show what the average American has long known. More and more mainstream media political coverage is devoted to gossip and issues of personality, and less and less to the major problems facing our country and the world. During the last presidential campaign, for example, there was almost no discussion devoted to climate change, the greatest environmental crisis facing our planet. There was hardly a mention that in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, 40 million Americans live in poverty, or that we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of nearly any major country.

Source: Where We Go From Here, by Bernie Sanders, p.6 Nov 27, 2018

On Jobs: Accompany minimum wage increase with pay equity for women

Why, in the wealthiest country in history, do we have a massive level of income and wealth inequality? Why are millions of us forced to work two or three jobs because we earn starvation wages? Why, at a time of record-breaking profits, does the federal minimum wage remain an unlivable $7.25 per hour?

Three years ago, a few brave Democrats in the Senate were advocating for a $12 federal minimum wage. Today, a majority of Americans support a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

We are making progress in creating a more just economy. And by the way, when we talk about a fair wage, we cannot forget that women still earn some 80 cents on the dollar compared with men. When we talk about a fair wage, we cannot forget that women still earn some 80 cents on the dollar compared with men. There is overwhelming support in this country for pay equity--equal pay for equal work--and that is the right thing to do. Every man in this country must stand with the women to win that fight.

Source: Where We Go From Here, by Bernie Sanders, p.253-4 Nov 27, 2018

On Principles & Values: All real change comes from grassroots activism

In 2016, I stated that the future of our country was dependent upon our willingness to make a political revolution. I stressed that real change never occurs from the top down. It always happens from the bottom up. No real change in American history--not the labor movement, the civil rights movement, the women's movement, the gay rights movement, the environmental movement, nor any other movement for social justice--has ever succeeded without grassroots activism, without millions of people engaged in the struggle for justice.

That's what I said when I ran for president. That's what I believe now. That's what I've been working to accomplish over the last several years. At a time of massive and growing income and wealth inequality, as our nation moves closer and closer to an oligarchic form of society, we need an unprecedented grassroots political movement to stand up to the greed of the billionaire class and the politicians they own. And the good news is, we're making progress.

Source: Where We Go From Here, by Bernie Sanders, p.1 Nov 27, 2018

On Government Reform: Unity Reform Commission: reduce power of superdelegates

During the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, it became clear to me that the elitist, top-down approach of the party needed to be reformed.

The Democratic National Committee had designated 716 political insiders as superdelegates--delegates to the national convention who could support any candidate they wanted, regardless of how the people of their state had voted in their primaries or caucuses.

In other words, the Democratic leadership had created the absurd and undemocratic situation that allowed 30 percent of the votes needed for the presidential nomination to come from the party elite. In 2016, this grossly unfair situation became very apparent when Secretary Clinton received the support of some 500 superdelegates BEFORE the first popular vote was cast in the Iowa caucuses.

[The Unity Reform Commission] in December 2017 unanimously passed a resolution that would significantly reduce the power of superdelegates.

Source: Where We Go From Here, by B. Sanders, p.248-50, on 2016 DNC Aug 25, 2018

On Crime: Bail reform: 65% of county & city inmates are "unconvicted"

In the middle of 2016, there were 740,700 inmates in city and county jails. Over 60 percent of these inmates were "unconvicted." If they had not been convicted of a crime, why were they in jail? Good question. Answer: Because a majority of them could not afford bail and were forced to remain imprisoned as they awaited trial. Nationally, nearly half of felony defendants cannot make bail, and they stay in jail until their case is heard.

Today, we have a two-tier criminal justice system. If you are wealthy or middle class, you post bail and prepare for your trial at home. If you are poor and cannot afford the $500 or $1000 for bail, you are forced to remain in jail while you await your trial.

Source: Where We Go From Here, by Bernie Sanders, p.195 May 4, 2018

On Drugs: Why is marijuana treated legally equal to heroin?

After almost fifty years of the war on drugs, we can conclude that this was has been a dismal failure and, as in many other wars, countless lives have been destroyed. In 2018, the Controlled Substances Act continues to treat both marijuana and heroin equally as Schedule 1 substances. You may like marijuana or you may not, but very few informed people believe that marijuana should be treated similarly to a killer drug like heroin.

And yet, in 2016, there were approximately 587,000 arrests for marijuana--roughly one per minute.

Many states and cities are taking action to undo the damage caused by the war on drugs. More and more states are moving to decriminalize or legalize the possession of marijuana, and some have passed legislation to expunge prior misdemeanor convictions. The prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s was a failed policy. The prohibition of marijuana has also failed.

Addiction is not a crime. It is an illnesses, and should be treated as such.

Source: Where We Go From Here, by Bernie Sanders, p.196-7 May 4, 2018

On Homeland Security: Undertake comprehensive audit of Department of Defense

On domestic policy, there are major differences between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. On foreign policy, not so much.

Several months ago, Democrats, with virtually no opposition, gave President Trump every nickel that he wanted in increased defense spending. At a time [of great domestic needs], there were very few Democrats opposed to Republican efforts to increase military spending by $165 billion over two years.

Democrats, for good reason, vehemently oppose almost everything Trump proposes, but when he asks for a huge increase in military spending, there are almost no voices in dissent. Why is that? Do we really have to spend more on the military than the next ten nations combined--most of which are our allies? Why do we dramatically increase funding when the Department of Defense remains the only government agency not to have undertaken a comprehensive audit? Why is there so little discussion about the billions in waste, fraud, and cost overruns at the Pentagon?

Source: Where We Go From Here, by Bernie Sanders, p.182-3 Apr 16, 2018

On Gun Control: Applaud students taking action to prevent school shootings

Shortly after the mass shooting that killed their friends and teachers, some brave students from Majority Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland came together to demand that government finally take action to prevent further shootings. Instead of simply grieving the loss of their fellow students, they decided to stand up and fight back. They wondered, as well as we all wonder, how a 19-year-old youngster who was known to be at risk for violence could have legally purchased at least ten guns, including a variant of an AK-47, the assault weapon he allegedly used.

While there may not be any guaranteed answers as to how we end mass shootings, that does not mean that we should not be doing everything possible to prevent them. We need action. While the American people are divided over various aspects of gun control, the more important truth is that there is now widespread & growing agreement on a variety of actions that would almost certainly lower the level of gun violence in this country.

Source: Where We Go From Here, by Bernie Sanders, p.143-4 Feb 16, 2018

On Welfare & Poverty: Puerto Rico nearly bankrupt after Great Recession

Since 2006, Puerto Rico had lost 20% of its jobs, and about 60% of Puerto Rico's adult population were unemployed. In other words, Puerto Rico remained in the midst of a major and prolonged depression.

As a result of its economic crisis, the Puerto Rican government was deep in debt and heading toward bankruptcy. Wall Street institutions, sensing the opportunity to make a killing at the expense of a weak and impoverished territory, were there to "help." They lent the government money at usurious interest rates.

In 2015, Puerto Rico owed over $70 billion and was paying, in some cases, a 34% interest rate on tax-exempt bonds that vulture capitalists purchased at 29 cents on the dollar. The people of Puerto Rico should not be forced to suffer even more in order that a handful of wealthy investors could make outrageous profits. I called on those investors to take a major "haircut" and understand that they could not make huge profits off a deeply impoverished and suffering island.

Source: Where We Go From Here, by Bernie Sanders, p.112-3 Oct 27, 2017

On Civil Rights: No ambiguity in condemning white supremacists

If we are going to expound the virtues of democracy and justice abroad, and be taken seriously, we need to practice those values here at home. That means continuing the struggle to end racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia here in the United States and making it clear that when people in America march on our streets as neo-nazis or white supremacists, we have no ambiguity in condemning everything they stand for. There are no two sides on that issue.
Source: Westminster College speech in Where We Go From Here, p. 93 Sep 21, 2017

On Energy & Oil: Climate change is issue for entire international community

At a time when climate change is causing devastating problems here in America and around the world, foreign policy is about whether we work with the international community--with China, Russia, India and countries around the world-- to transform our energy systems away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy. Sensible foreign policy understands that climate change is a real threat to every country on earth, that it is not a hoax, and that no country alone can effectively combat it. It is an issue for the entire international community, and an issue that the United States should be leading in, not ignoring or denying.
Source: Westminster College speech in Where We Go From Here, p. 94 Sep 21, 2017

On Foreign Policy: Development aid isn't charity; it avoids military later

Development aid is not charity, it advances our national security. It's worth noting that the U.S. military is a stalwart supporter of non-defense diplomacy and development aid. Starving diplomacy and aid now will result in greater defense needs later on.

US foreign aid should be accompanied by stronger emphasis on helping people gain their political and civil rights to hold oppressive governments accountable to the people. Ultimately, governments that are accountable to the needs of their people will make more dependable partners.

Here is the bottom line: In my view, the United States must seek partnerships not just between governments, but between peoples. A sensible and effective foreign policy recognizes that our safety and welfare is bound up with the safety and welfare of others around the world.

Source: Westminster College speech in Where We Go From Here, p. 109 Sep 21, 2017

On Foreign Policy: Foreign policy is directly related to military policy

Let me be clear: Foreign policy is directly related to military policy and has everything to do with almost seven thousand young Americans being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and tens of thousands coming home wounded in body and spirit from a war we should never have started. That's foreign policy. And foreign policy is about hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq and Afghanistan dying in that same war.

Foreign policy is about U.S. government budget priorities. At a time when we already spend more on defense than the next 12 nations combined, foreign policy is about authorizing a defense budget of some $700 billion.

Source: Westminster College speech in Where We Go From Here, p. 92 Sep 21, 2017

On Foreign Policy: UN is bureaucratic, but does enormously important work

One of the most important organizations for promoting a vision of a different world is the United Nations. It has become fashionable to bash the UN. And yes, the UN needs to be reformed. It can be ineffective, bureaucratic, too slow or unwilling to act, even in the face of massive atrocities, as we are seeing in Syria right now. But to see only its weaknesses is to overlook the enormously important work the UN does in promoting global health, aiding refugees, monitoring elections, and doing international peacekeeping missions, among other things. All of these activities contribute to reduced conflict, to wars that don't have to be ended because they never start.

At the end of the day, it is obvious that it makes far more sense to have a forum in which countries can debate their concerns, work out compromises and agreements. Dialogue and debate are far preferable to bombs, poison gas, and war.

Source: Westminster College speech in Where We Go From Here, p. 98-9 Sep 21, 2017

On Foreign Policy: 1991: We give $7B to feudalistic dictatorships in Mideast

As a freshman congressman in 1991, I voted against the first Persian Gulf War, which laid the groundwork for our future involvement in the Gulf. In one of my earliest speeches in Congress, I went to the house floor and said, "Despite the fact that we are now aligned with such Middle Eastern governments such as Syria, a terrorist dictatorship, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, a feudalistic dictatorships, and Egypt, a one-party state that receives $7 Billion in debt forgiveness to wage this war with us, I believe that, in the long run, the action unleashed last night will go strongly against our interests in the Middle East. Clearly, the United States and its allies will win this war, but the death and destruction caused will, in my opinion, not be forgotten by the poor people of the Third World and the people of the Middle East in particular... I fear that one day we will regret that decision and that we are in fact laying the groundwork for more and more wars in that region for years to come."
Source: Where We Go From Here, by Bernie Sanders, p.88-9 Sep 21, 2017

On Homeland Security: Global War on Terror has undermined our moral standards

Terrorism is a very real threat, as we learned so tragically on September 11, 2001, and many other countries knew already too well. But as an organizing framework, the Global War on Terror has been a disaster for the American people and for American leadership. Orienting US national security strategy around terrorism essentially allowed a few thousand violent extremists to dictate policy for the most powerful nation on earth. It responds to terrorists by giving them exactly what they want.

In addition to draining our resources and distorting our vision, the war on terror has caused us to undermine our own moral standards regarding torture, indefinite detention, and the use of force around the world, using drone strikes and other airstrikes that often result in high civilian casualties.

A heavy-handed military approach, with little transparency or accountability, doesn't enhance our security. It makes the problem worse.

Source: Westminster College speech in Where We Go From Here, p.105-6 Sep 21, 2017

On War & Peace: Protect Iranian nuke deal; without it, Iran is unlimited

For many years, leaders across the world had become increasingly concerned about the possibility of an Iranian nuclear weapon. What the Obama administration and our European allies were able to do was to get an agreement that froze and dismantled large parts of that nuclear program, put it under the most intensive inspections regime in history, and removed the prospect of an Iranian nuclear weapon from the list of global threats.

I call on my colleagues in the Congress, and all Americans: We must protect this deal. President Trump has signaled his intention to walk away from it, regardless of the evidence that it is working. That would be a mistake.

This would potentially free Iran from the limits placed on its nuclear program. If we are genuinely concerned with Iran's behavior in the region, as I am, the worst possible thing we could do is break the nuclear deal. It would make all of these other problems harder.

Source: Westminster College speech in Where We Go From Here, p. 107 Sep 21, 2017

On War & Peace: Why would anyone trust US if we abrogated Iran nuke treaty?

President Trump has signaled his intention to walk away from the [multinational Iranian nuclear deal negotiated by Obama]. Not only would this potentially free Iran from the limits placed on its nuclear program, it would irreparably harm America's ability to negotiate future nonproliferation agreements. Why would any country in the world sign such an agreement with the US if they knew that a reckless president and an irresponsible Congress might simply discard that agreement a few years later?
Source: Westminster College speech in Where We Go From Here, p. 107 Sep 21, 2017

On War & Peace: Iraq War discredited vision of benevolent global hegemony

Some in Washington continue to argue that "benevolent global hegemony" should be the goal of our foreign policy, that the US, by virtue of its extraordinary military power, should stand astride the world and reshape it to its liking. I would argue that the events of the past two decades--particularly the disastrous Iraq war and the instability and destruction it has brought to the region--have utterly discredited that vision.

The goal is not for the US to dominate the world. Nor, on the other hand, is our goal to withdraw from the international community and shirk our responsibilities under the banner of "America First." Our goal should be global engagement based on partnership, rather than dominance. This is better for our security, better for global stability, and better for facilitating international cooperation.

Far too often, American intervention and the use of American military power has produced unintended consequences which have caused incalculable harm.

Source: Westminster College speech in Where We Go From Here, p.100-1 Sep 21, 2017

On War & Peace: 1990s Iraq invasion laid groundwork for more wars in region

I had as a young man strongly opposed the disastrous war in Vietnam, one of the worst foreign policy blunders in the history of our country. I had also spoken out against U.S. coups and invasions that overthrew democratically elected governments in Chile, Guatemala, the Congo, Brazil, Iran, and elsewhere.

As a freshman congressman in 1991, I voted against the first Persian Gulf War, [saying], "I fear that one day we will regret that decision and that we are in fact laying the groundwork for more and more wars in that region for years to come.". Not a bad analysis for a freshman congressman.

In 2003, I did everything I could to prevent George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq--a war that Hillary Clinton supported. In one debate, when Hillary Clinton cited Henry Kissinger as a friend and mentor, I suggested that he was a terrible secretary of state, a war criminal, and would play no role in a Sanders administration.

Source: Where We Go From Here, by Bernie Sanders, p.88-9 Sep 21, 2017

On Jobs: Fight for $15: worker wages so low they need food stamps!

[The movement labeled "Fight for $15" involved] raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour; [that] may have been a fringe idea a few years ago, but now it is a mainstream idea whose time has come.

This legislation would also end an outrageous aspect of corporate welfare. Today, many workers in large and profitable corporations, some of which are owned by multibillionaires, earn wages that are so low that they are forced to rely on publicly funded programs like Medicaid, food stamps, and public housing in order to survive. In my view, it is totally absurd for the taxpayers of this country to have to subsidize people like Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and the wealthiest person in the world, worth over $150 billion. He should be paying his employees a living wage, and a $15-an-hour federal minimum wage would be a step in the right direction toward making that happen.

Source: Where We Go From Here, by Bernie Sanders, p.80-1 Apr 26, 2017

On Technology: Fake news comes from multinational media conglomerates

When we talk about the political revolution, we are not only talking about a progressive agenda and a grassroots political movement. We are talking about the necessity of finding a new way of communicating with the American people.

Unlike Trump, I do not believe that mainstream media is "fake news" or an "enemy of the people". I don't believe that most reporters carry a grudge or intentionally try to destroy politicians. I do believe, however, as I have said many times, that for a variety of obvious reasons, multinational conglomerates that own our media are not interested in analyzing the power of big-money interests, or the needs of working families.

Source: Where We Go From Here, by Bernie Sanders, p.71 Feb 28, 2017

On Health Care: ObamaCare insured 20 million, but didn't go far enough

My position on health care has been clear to the people of Vermont and America for a very long time. To me, health care is a human right, not a privilege. I believe our nation needs to end the international embarrassment of being the only major country on earth not to guarantee health care for all in a cost-effective way. That's why I have been a longtime supporter of Medicare for All, single-payer program.

I voted for the Affordable Care Act because, while it did not go anywhere near as far as I wanted, it did provide health insurance for about 20 million more Americans, ended the abomination of people being denied insurance coverage because of preexisting conditions, expanded primary health care, and significantly improved health care coverage for women.

Source: Where We Go From Here, by Bernie Sanders, p.57-8 Jan 15, 2017

On Health Care: No country except USA lets drug companies charge any price

Virtually every single day, my office hears from constituents in Vermont and people all over this country who are sick and tired of being ripped off by the pharmaceutical industry- an industry that charges Americans, by far, the highest for prescription drugs.

The reason we pay two times, five times, ten times more for medicine than any other countries do is pretty simple. No other country on earth allows drug companies to charge any price they want for any reason. Somebody in Burlington, Vermont, can walk into a pharmacy and find that the price they pay for the medicine they've been using for years has doubled or tripled. And in the United States, that is perfectly legal. Drug companies can and do raise prices, sometimes in outrageous ways, simply because they can, because the market will bear it.

Source: Where We Go From Here, by Bernie Sanders, p.43-4 Oct 17, 2016

On Budget & Economy: 2016 election is about ending decline of the middle class

The election is about--and must be about--the needs of the American people, and the kind of future we create for our children and grandchildren. This election is about ending the forty-year decline of our middle class and the reality that 47 million men, women, and children live in poverty. It is about understanding that if we do not transform our economy, our younger generation will likely have a lower of standard of living than their parents.

This election is about ending the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality that we currently experience, the worst it has been since 1928. It is not moral, not acceptable, and not sustainable that the top one-tenth of one percent now own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent, or that the top 1 percent in recent years has earned 85 percent of all new income. That is unacceptable. That must change.

Source: Where We Go From Here, by Bernie Sanders, p.25 Jul 26, 2016

On Corporations: Great Recession caused by Wall Street greed & recklessness

This election is about remembering where we were seven and a half years ago, when President Obama came into office after eight years of Republican trickle-down economics.

The Republicans want us to forget that as a a result of the greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior on Wall Street, our economy was in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Some 800,000 people a month were losing their jobs. We were running up a record-breaking deficit of $1.4 trillion, and the world's financial system was on the verge of collapse.

We have come a long way in the last seven and a half years, and I thank President Obama and Vice President Biden for their leadership in pulling us out of that terrible recession.

Source: Where We Go From Here, by Bernie Sanders, p.25 Jul 26, 2016

On Principles & Values: DNC tilted primary in favor of Hillary Clinton

On July 26, 2016, in a prime-time speech at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, I endorsed Hillary Clinton and urged my supporters and the American people to elect her as president.

The now-famous DNC emails that we later learned were stolen by hackers working for a Russian intelligence agency had been released at the start of the convention. The content of these emails, which were not a shock to me, showed that the leadership of the DNC had tilted the playing field during the primary in favor of Hillary Clinton's campaign. As a result, the chair of the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, was forced to resign. Many of my delegate, who were not great fans of Hillary Clinton or the democratic establishment to begin with, were further enraged.

Source: Where We Go From Here, by B.Sanders, p. 19-20, on 2016 DNC Jul 26, 2016

On Principles & Values: 8 million contributions to his campaign, averaging $27

Let me thank the two and a half million Americans who helped fund our campaign with an unprecedented 8 million individual campaign contributions--averaging $27 apiece. Let me thank the 13 million Americans who voted for the political revolution, giving us the 1,846 pledged delegates here tonight--46 percent of the total.
Source: Where We Go From Here, by Bernie Sanders, p. 23-4 Jul 26, 2016

On Corporations: Disallow stashing corporate profits overseas to avoid taxes

[At the 2016 convention preparation], we were victorious in including amendments in the platform that made it the policy of the Democratic Party to fight for: