Thank you all very much for being here today and thank you for being part of a political revolution which will transform America.
Thank you for being part of a campaign which is not only going to win the Democratic nomination, which is not only going to defeat Donald Trump, the most dangerous president in modern American history, but with your help is going to transform this country and, finally, create an economy and government which works for all Americans, and not just the one percent.
Today, I want to welcome you to a campaign which says, loudly and clearly, that the underlying principles of our government will not be greed, hatred and lies. It will not be racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia and religious bigotry. That is going to end. The principles of our government will be based on justice: economic justice, social justice, racial justice and environmental justice. Today, I want to welcome you to a campaign which tells the powerful special interests who control so much of our economic and political life that we will no longer tolerate the greed of corporate America and the billionaire class — greed which has resulted in this country having more income and wealth inequality than any other major country on earth.
No, we will no longer stand idly by and allow 3 people in this country to own more wealth than the bottom half of America while, at the same time, over 20 percent of our children live in poverty, veterans sleep out on the streets and seniors cannot afford their prescription drugs. We will no longer accept 46 percent of all new income going to the top 1 percent, while millions of Americans are forced to work 2 or 3 jobs just to survive and over half of our people live paycheck to paycheck, frightened to death about what happens to them financially if their car breaks down or their child becomes sick. Today, we fight for a political revolution.
We say to the private health insurance companies, whether you like it or not, the United States will join every other major country on earth and guarantee healthcare to all people as a right. All Americans are entitled to go to the doctor when they’re sick and not go bankrupt after staying in the hospital.
Yes, we will pass a Medicare for all single-payer program.
Today, we say to the pharmaceutical industry, that you will no longer charge the American people the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, the result being that one out of five Americans cannot afford the prescriptions their doctors prescribe. The outrageous greed of the pharmaceutical industry is going to end. We are going to lower prescription drug prices in this country.
Today, we say to WalMart, the fast food industry and other low wage employers: Stop paying your employees starvation wages… Yes. We are going to raise the federal minimum wage to a living wage — $15 an hour. Nobody who works 40 hours a week in this country should live in poverty. And yes, we’re going to make it easier for people to join unions, not harder.
And by the way, today we say to corporate America that artificial intelligence and robotics are not going to be used just to throw workers out on the street. This exploding technology must serve human needs, not just corporate profits.
Today, we say to the American people that we will rebuild our crumbling infrastructure: our roads, our bridges, our rail system and subways, our water systems and wastewater plants and our airports — and when we do that we create up to 13 million good paying jobs.
Today, we say to the parents in this country that you and your kids deserve quality, affordable childcare. The children are our future, and they deserve the best possible head start in life with a high quality, universal pre-K program.
Today, we say to our young people that we want you to get the best education that you can, regardless of the income of your family. Good jobs require a good education. That is why we are going to make public colleges and universities tuition free, and substantially lower the outrageous level of student debt that currently exists. America once had the best educated workforce in the world, and we are going to make that happen again.
Today, we say to our senior citizens, that we understand that you cannot live in dignity when you are trying to survive on $13,000 or $14,000 a year in Social Security benefits. My Republican colleagues want to cut Social Security but we have some bad news for them. We’re not going to cut Social Security benefits. We’re going to expand them.
Today, we say to Donald Trump and the fossil fuel industry that climate change is not a hoax but is an existential threat to our country and the entire planet — and we intend to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy and, in the process, create millions of good paying jobs. All of us have a moral responsibility to make certain that the planet we leave to our children and grandchildren is healthy and habitable.
Today, we say to the prison-industrial-complex that we are going to bring about real criminal justice reform. We are going to end the international embarrassment of having more people in jail than any other country on earth. Instead of spending $80 billion a year on jails and incarceration, we are going to invest in jobs and education for our young people. No more private prisons and detention centres. No more profiteering from locking people up. No more “war on drugs.” No more keeping people in jail because they’re too poor to afford cash bail.
And by the way, when we talk about criminal justice reform, we’re going to change a system in which tens of thousands of Americans every year get criminal records for possessing marijuana, but not one major Wall Street executive went to jail for destroying our economy in 2008 as a result of their greed, recklessness and illegal behaviour. No, they didn’t go to jail. They got a trillion-dollar bailout.
Today, we say to the American people that instead of demonising the undocumented immigrants in this country, we’re going to pass comprehensive immigration reform and provide a path toward citizenship. We’re going to provide legal status to the 1.8 million young people eligible for the DACA program, and develop a humane border policy for those who seek asylum. No more snatching babies from the arms of their mothers.
Today, we say to the top 1 percent and the large profitable corporations in this country — people who have never had it so good — that under a Bernie Sanders administration we’re going to end the massive tax breaks and loopholes that you currently enjoy.
We will no longer accept the absurd situation where large corporations like Amazon, Netflix and General Motors pay nothing in federal income taxes after raking in billions in profits. We will no longer tolerate the situation in which the wealthy and large corporations stash billions in tax havens throughout the world.
Yes, the wealthy and multi-national corporations in this country will start paying their fair share of taxes. We are going to end austerity for working families, and provide some austerity for large, multi-national corporations.
Today, we say to the military-industrial-complex that we will not continue to spend $700 billion a year on the military — more than the next ten nations combined. We’re going to invest in affordable housing, we’re going to invest in public education, we’re going to invest in rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure — not more nuclear weapons and never-ending wars.
Brothers and sisters: We’re going to win this election not because we have a super PAC funded by billionaires. We’re going to win this election because we will put together the strongest grassroots coalition in the history of American politics.
Donald Trump wants to divide us up by the colour of our skin, our country of origin, our gender, our religion and our sexual orientation. We are going to do exactly the opposite. We are going to bring our people together — black, white, Latino, Native American, Asian American, gay and straight, young and old, men and women, native born and immigrant.
We are going to bring our people together for an unprecedented grassroots effort, which, I am happy to tell you, already has over one million people signed up as volunteers.
If I might, as I return here to Brooklyn, let me take a moment to become personal.
As we launch this campaign for president, you deserve to know where I come from — because family history heavily influences the values that we adopt as adults.
I was born and raised a few miles away from here, in a three-and-a-half room rent-controlled apartment. My father was a paint salesman who worked hard his entire life, but never made much money. My mother raised my brother and me.
I learned a great deal about immigration as a child because my father came to this country from Poland at the age of 17, without a nickel in his pocket. He came to escape the crushing poverty that existed in his community, and to escape widespread anti-semitism. And, it was a good thing that he left Poland when he did because virtually his entire family there was wiped out by Nazi barbarism.
I am not going to tell you that I grew up in a home of desperate poverty. That would not be true. But what I will tell you is that coming from a lower middle class family I will never forget how money — or really lack of money — was always a point of stress in our home. My mother’s dream was that someday our family would move out of that rent-controlled apartment to a home of our own. That dream was never fulfilled. She died young while we were still living in that rent-controlled apartment.
My experience as a kid, living in a family that struggled economically, powerfully influenced my life and my values. Unlike Donald Trump, who shut down the government and left 800,000 federal employees without income to pay the bills, I know what it’s like to be in a family that lives paycheck to paycheck.
Now it’s true: I did not have a father who gave me millions of dollars to build luxury skyscrapers, casinos and country clubs. I did not come from a family that gave me a $200,000 allowance every year beginning at the age of 3. As I recall, my allowance was 25 cents a week.
But I had something more valuable: I had the role model of a father who had unbelievable courage in journeying across an ocean, with no money in his pocket, to start a new and better life.
I did not come from a family of privilege that prepared me to entertain people on television by telling workers: “You’re fired.” I came from a family who knew all too well the frightening power employers can have over everyday workers.
I did not come from a politically connected family whose multinational corporation got special tax breaks and subsidies. I came from a family where my parents paid their taxes and understood the important role that government plays in a democracy.
I did not come from a family that could afford to send my brother and me to an elite boarding school. In fact, I was educated in high quality public schools here in Brooklyn and began the first year of my college life on this very campus. I should also mention that my brother graduated from Brooklyn College.
Having attended an excellent public college that was then virtually tuition free and living in a rent-controlled apartment, I can assure you that my family believed that government in a democratic society had a very important role to play in protecting working families.
I did not come from a family that taught me to build a corporate empire through housing discrimination. I protested housing discrimination, was arrested for protesting school segregation, and attended Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King’s March on Washington for jobs and freedom.
Brothers and sisters, over the last two years, and before, you and I and millions of Americans have stood up and fought for justice in every part of our society. And we’ve had some successes.
Together, as billionaires and large corporations have attacked unions, destroyed pensions, deregulated the banks, and slashed wages, we have succeeded in raising the minimum wage to $15 in states and cities across the country. And forced large corporations like Amazon and Disney to do the same. And we have supported teachers who successfully stood up for their kids in strike after strike after strike.
Together, as the forces of militarism have kept us engaged in unending wars, we have stood arm-in-arm to fight back. For the first time in 45 years, we have utilised the War Powers Act to move us forward in ending the horrific Saudi-led war in Yemen.
Together, as so many of our young people have received criminal records for nonviolent offences, we have fought to end the war on drugs, and have seen state after state decriminalise marijuana, and have seen communities expunge the criminal records of those arrested on these charges.
Let’s be honest: while we have won some victories, our struggles have not always been successful. But I am here to tell you, that because of all the work we have done, we are now on the brink of winning not just an election, but transforming our country.
And let me tell you what that means.
When we are in the White House, we will enact a federal jobs guarantee, to ensure that everyone is guaranteed a stable job. There is more than enough work to be done in this country. Let’s do it.
When we are in the White House we will attack the problem of urban gentrification and build the affordable housing our nation desperately needs.
When we are in the White House we will end the decline of rural America, reopen those rural hospitals that have been closed, and make sure that our young people have decent jobs so they do not have to leave the towns they grew up in and love.
When we are in he White House, we will move aggressively to end the epidemic of gun violence in this country and pass the common sense gun safety legislation that the overwhelming majority of Americans want. People who should not have guns, will not have guns.
When we are in the White House, we are going to address not only the disparities of wealth and income that exist overall in our nation, but we will address the racial disparities of wealth and income. We are going to root out institutional racism wherever it exists. Not only will we end voter suppression, we are going to make it easier for people to vote — not harder.
When we are in the White House, we are going to protect a woman’s right to control her own body. That is her decision, not the government’s.
Make no mistake about it, this struggle is not just about defeating Donald Trump. This struggle is about taking on the incredibly powerful institutions that control the economic and political life of this country. And I’m talking about Wall Street, the insurance companies, the drug companies, the military-industrial complex, the prison-industrial complex, the fossil fuel industry and a corrupt campaign finance system that enables billionaires to buy elections.
Brothers and sisters: We have an enormous amount of work in front of us. And this what I believe. If we stand together, if we don’t allow Trump and his friends to divide us up, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.
This country has an extraordinary future. Let’s make it happen.