Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Saturday began a two-day, seven-stop weekend swing through New Hampshire with a midday town meeting at Nashua Community College.
More than 500 people came out to hear Sanders call for a jobs program to address African-American youth unemployment. The crowd applauded when he welcomed Friday’s Supreme Court ruling that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. And there were cheers when he praised Pope Francis for the pontiff’s encyclical this month making the moral case for dealing with the planetary crisis of global warming.
“When you talk about how black lives matter you’ve got to understand that unemployment among African-American young people is more than 50 percent,” Sanders said. “It makes more sense to invest in jobs than in jails,” he added. He called for a massive jobs program – an investment of $1 trillion – to create or sustain 13 million construction jobs rebuilding crumbling roads, bridges and water systems.
On the landmark ruling on marriage, Sanders said “a conservative court did the right thing” because “they live in the real world and they know times are changing.” Justices, he said, completed a movement that began at the grassroots level led by a gay rights movement that brought out “the decency of the American people.” It wasn’t so long ago, in 1996, when Congress passed a so-called Defense of Marriage Act to deny legally-married same sex couples federal benefits available to straight couples. “Not too many people voted against it. I did,” Sanders said.
On climate change, he said the pope had made the case that “we have a moral responsibility to our kids and our grandchildren.” In the United States, he added, one concrete way to take a stand on climate change is to oppose construction of the Keystone XL pipeline which would carry some of the dirtiest oil on the planet from the tar sands region of Canada to refineries in Texas along the Gulf Coast.