Monday, September 17, 2012
Bernie's Message To Progressives
In the midst of all of the campaign hoopla, media superficiality, negativity and downright lies, it’s important for progressives not to forget what this election is all about.
Today we are confronted with a Republican Party which, in the last few years, has become a right-wing extremist party.This is a party which, as a result of the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, is significantly financed by a small number of extremely wealthy individuals. Billionaires like the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson have pledged to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to defeat President Obama -- and Senate and House candidates throughout the country who are fighting to protect middle-class and working families.
These billionaires own coal companies, oil companies, gambling casinos and much of Wall Street. Now, they want to own the United States government.
At a time when we have a grotesquely unfair distribution of wealth and income, these billionaires want more tax breaks for the rich. As we continue to suffer from this horrendous Wall Street caused recession, the billionaires want more de-regulation of the giant financial institutions. Despite the fact that we have lost over 50,000 factories in the last ten years and millions of good-paying jobs, these corporate tycoons want more unfettered free trade to send our jobs to China and other low-wage countries.
Today, 50 million Americans lack health insurance, and some 45,000 will die this year because they don’t get to a doctor when they should. The Republican response: convert Medicare into a voucher program and make huge cuts in Medicaid.
The simple truth is that today’s Republican Party wants to undo virtually every piece of legislation passed in the last 80 years that was designed to provide dignity and security to ordinary Americans. It’s not just that many of them want to destroy Social Security; it’s that some leading Republicans are so opposed to government serving the needs of working families that they actually believe that Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the minimum wage are “unconstitutional.”
In short, the Republican Party of today wants to move this country into an oligarchic form of society in which a handful of very wealthy people control the economic and political life of the nation.
WE MUST NOT ALLOW THAT TO HAPPEN!
But it’s not just economic issues. Take a hard look at their position on women’s issues. The recently passed Republican Party platform supports a constitutional amendment to prohibit abortion even in the case of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at risk. In other words, the Republican Party, the party of “freedom,” believes that a woman must have a rapist’s baby even at the cost of her own life. Talk about extremism!
And then there’s global warming. Some 98 percent of all scientists who have written peer-reviewed articles on climate change believe that global warming is real, that it is significantly caused by human activity, and that it is already causing severe damage to our planet. These scientists believe that if global warming is not reversed it could have a disastrous impact upon the lives of billions of people. What is the Republican Party’s position on global warming? Republican Senator Jim Inhofe, who will become Chairman of the Environmental Committee if the Republicans gain control of the Senate, has recently written a book in which he expresses the view that global warming is a hoax, perpetrated on the American people by Al Gore, the United Nations and the “Hollywood elite.” No kidding! That’s really his view.
So that is where we are today.
We have a Republican Party that is at war against the middle class, that looks out only for the wealthy, that denies both global warming and the rights of women to control their own bodies and is -- if you can believe this -- moving even further to the right. That same Republican Party despises equality, welcomes oligarchy, demeans democracy by preventing millions from exercising their right to vote, and panders more and more to its extreme right-wing base.
What about the Democrats? While President Obama and the Democrats can take pride in some important and positive accomplishments over the last four years, I recognize that many progressives are disappointed in some of what the President has done -- and in what he has not done. I share that disappointment.
Have the Democrats been as strong as they should be in opposing right-wing extremism and the reactionary Republican agenda? No, they haven’t. Have they been as strong as they should be in standing up to the Wall Street executives whose greed, recklessness and illegal behavior drove us into this horrendous recession? No, they haven’t. Have they been as strong as they should be in taking on the Big Money interests and making it clear that they will not do deficit reduction on the backs of the sick, the elderly, the children or the poor? No, they haven’t. Have they done all that they could to move forward on overturning the disastrous Citizens United decision? No, they haven’t. Are they much too heavily influenced by moneyed interests? Yes, they are.
In my view, the course of action now for progressives is pretty simple. First, we have to do everything we can to defeat right-wing extremism, re-elect President Obama and as many Democrats as possible to the House and Senate. (It would be an unmitigated disaster if the Republicans gained control of the Senate.) Second, the day after the election we must greatly accelerate our efforts in strengthening the kind of grass-roots progressive movement that has the capability of holding the Democrats accountable as we demand that they stand up vigorously for the middle class and working families of our country.
These are tough and frightening times for our country. Despair is not an option. The fight continues.
Thanks again for your support.
Senator Bernie Sanders