In 2016, there were two candidates telling people their pain was legitimate and their rage was valid – that the system indeed had been rigged against them. They were Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.
Only one of them, however, wanted to do something about it. The other mainly sought to harness all that anger for his own political purposes.
So here we are.
The rage that people were feeling then is still felt today. Has the system improved economically in the last two years? In some ways, yes. But in fundamental ways, no. It’s now baked into the cake that our corrupted political system is at the service of the few, at the expense of the many. And it will not disrupt itself.
One in four Americans still live with medical debt. A third of America’s workforce work for less than $15 an hour; half can’t afford a one bedroom apartment. Half our seniors live on less than $25,000 a year. The United States has the highest poverty rate of any advanced democracy.
If you’re in the top 20 percent of American earners, the economy works well. And for that we can be grateful. But that 20 percent live on an island that is surrounded by a sea of economic despair. Within that sea, a myriad of personal and societal dysfunctions breed easily – from chronic anxiety and addiction to ideological capture by genuinely psychotic, even fascist elements of our society.
We must respond to this situation, for it represents an unsustainable disquiet.
Franklin Roosevelt said we wouldn’t have to worry about a fascist takeover in America so long as democracy delivered on its promises. Yes, there is a genuine fascist threat in America today. But we can’t just fight the disease; we must build up our societal immune system, as well. That means we must build up our people. We must provide a massive infusion of economic hope and opportunity to the over 70 percent of Americans who say they feel no economic hope, who simply do what they can to survive what they know is an inherently unjust economic system. Their dreams, and the dreams of their children, are limited. They are depressed and angry about it, and if those feelings are not assuaged – if their needs are not met – then America will be in even bigger trouble than we are now.
That is why I am running for president. I have had a forty year career working up close and personal with people whose lives are in trouble, and too many are in trouble now. Despair has become a feature, not a bug, of the American experience … yet our system continues to maintain injustices that make the suffering inevitable.
Our government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” has become a government “of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations.” Our public policies regularly do more to serve the goal of short-term profit maximization for corporate and billionaire donors, than to serve the goal of safety, health and well-being of the American people. The humanitarian values at the core of our Declaration of Independence have been replaced by a soulless economics as the governing principle of our civilization. The tentacles of hyper-capitalism, devoid of any ethical or moral consideration, now reach greedily into every corner of our society. A Second Gilded Age is upon us, income disparity as great as at any time in our history, and everything from climate catastrophe to AI catastrophe to nuclear catastrophe now loom as genuine threats to our civilization.
It is time to turn around.
In the words of President John F. Kennedy, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable.” In the years ahead of us, America is going to change. It is up to us to make the change a conscious, wise and responsible one. As president, I will make sure we do.
A corporate aristocracy – from insurance and pharmaceutical companies to Big Ag to Big Food to chemical companies to gun manufacturers to Big Oil to Big Tech to defense contractors – now tyrannize this country, and the days of their overreach and entitlement must end. No one thing is going to make that happen, but a president who is willing to use the power of the executive branch to stand up to what Roosevelt called the “economic royalists” is a good solid beginning. And I will be that.
As Americans, we need a season of repair, a new beginning, a renewed faith in what’s possible. Our political imaginations can flourish once more, if we allow the better angels of our nature to emerge among us. I dedicate this campaign to the people, to the spirit in our hearts, and to the possibility of fundamental change.
With your help, we can spread this message far and wide and set America on the path of a new beginning.