Thank you for inviting me to be with you today, and thank you for the hard work that all of you do every day in trying to make our country a better place in which to live and raise a family.
I understand that there are Republicans who proclaim how much they love America, but how much they hate the people who work in our government or who participate in the political process. I disagree. In my view, participating in the political process and strengthening democracy — as you do — is one of the most patriotic things we can do as American citizens, and I thank you all for your efforts.
I only have a few minutes, so let me jump to the points I want to make:
When I announced my candidacy less than four months ago, I think that it’s fair to say that few took our campaign seriously. But a lot has changed in these last few months.
All across the country we have drawn some the largest crowds of this campaign, including many 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 are already hitting the streets and phones.
We have, I believe, received more individual campaign contributions than any other presidential campaign, some 400,000. And in this day of super-PACs and huge campaign contributions I am proud to tell you that our average contribution is $31.20.
Most importantly, few would deny that the issues I am running on are generating a great deal of energy and enthusiasm in our grassroots campaign, a campaign that is calling for a political revolution.
The Republicans did not win the mid-term election in November. The Democrats 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 huge voter turnout.
With all due respect, and I do not mean to insult anyone here, that will not happen with politics as usual. The same old, same old will not be successful.
The people of our country understand that — given the collapse of the American middle class and the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality we are experiencing — we do not need more establishment politics or establishment economics.
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 corporate America 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 you will start paying your fair share of taxes.
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.
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.
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 un-American 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 bomb, 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 Statehouses all across the country because we are going to create an unprecedented grassroots movement which taps into the American people’s desire for real change in this country.