Rarely in history has a U.S. Senator spoken so much truth is such blunt language as did Bernie Sanders when the Vermont independent on Monday warned in a remarkable speech on the Senate floor that: “Unless the American people by the millions tell the President not to yield one inch to Republican demands to destroy Medicare and Medicaid, while continuing to provide tax breaks to the wealthy and the powerful, I am afraid that is exactly what will happen.”
Speaking not just to the Senate — and the president — but the great mass of Americans, Sanders offered a new narrative with regard to addressing debt ceilings, debts and deficits. Rejecting the absurd claims of Republican legislators and their amen corner in the media, Sanders urged Obama and his fellow Democrats to draw a political line in the sand and declare that some compromises need not be made — and will not be made.
“In my view, the President of the United States of America needs to stand with the American people and say to the Republican leadership that enough is enough. No, we will not balance the budget on the backs of working families, the elderly, the sick, the children, and the poor, who have already sacrificed enough in terms of lost jobs, lost wages, lost homes, and lost pensions,” declared Sanders. “Yes, we will demand that millionaires and billionaires and the largest corporations in America contribute to deficit reduction as a matter of shared sacrifice. Yes, we will reduce unnecessary and wasteful spending at the Pentagon. And, no we will not be blackmailed once again by the Republican leadership in Washington, who are threatening to destroy the full faith and credit of the United States government for the first time in our nation’s history unless they get everything they want.”
As with the filibuster-style speech last December, in which he decried compromises with Republicans on tax policy (especially maintaining Bush-era tax breaks for billionaires), Sanders framed his remarks Monday not just in a political context but in human terms.
He quoted at length, and often in poignant language, from Americans — particularly Vermonters — who have seen their economic security threatened as federal priorities have shifted away from defending the Middle Class and toward the structuring of tax, trade and regulatory policies to serve multinational corporations and the CEO class.
While Sanders called on Obama to do the right thing, the senator was realistic. Clearly conscious of the president’s penchant for compromise, Sanders urged working Americans to join him in demanding that the White House and congressional Democrats stand firm against the agenda of Wall Street and a military-industrial complex that always finds money for wars but rarely finds resources to secure the homes, health and happiness of the great mass of citizens.
“I am asking the American people who may be listening today that if you believe that deficit reduction should be about shared sacrifice, if you believe that it is time for the wealthy and large corporations to pay their fair share,” Sanders said, “if you believe that we need to reduce unnecessary defense spending, and if you believe that the middle class has already sacrificed enough due to the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street, the President needs to hear your voice, and he needs to hear it now.”
There was a “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” tenor to Monday’s speech, as there was to the speech Sanders gave last December.
He spoke in the language of Main Street, urging the people to join him in challenging the economic and political “schoolyard bullies” who would pressure a Democratic president and Congress to bend to the will of the elites.
But the sincerity of the senator’s remarks ought not be mistaken for naivete. A veteran organizer, he knows the power that the people still have to influence even the most corroded and corrupted of political processes. And he is asking them to use that power now — for their own good and for that of their nation.
And he is not afraid to lead the charge.
At Sanders’ urging, more than 16,000 Americans have signed a letter he had written to President Obama.
Today, President Barack Obama officially announced his re-election campaign had begun.
What he needs to be aware of is that he is NOT going to receive automatic approval simply because he’s Barack Obama.
For many of us, we will not give a single penny to his campaign until…
1) Guantanamo Bay prisons in Cuba are shut down, as promised.
2) All the troops are troops are home from Iraq and Afghanistan.
3) At least ONE, if not a couple of hundred of the Wall Street bankers responsible for the economic mess are sent to jail.
4) American citizens need to have guaranteed access to affordable health care. We wanted the the public option, and we certainly didn’t want a “mandate” if the costs remain sky-high as set by the various profit-driven HMOs.
Demanding that every citizen has a “mandate to pay for health insurance” is like “asking homeless people to own homes.” Kinda hard to do when the money is tight, ya know?
Eventually, I’ll write more about our president, but for now I’ll just recycle a few things every now and then…
ts a bird! Its a plane! No, he’s Barack Obama and he’s come to save the day! JibJab puts the rock in Barack with a new, over-the-top satire that debuted in front of the President himself this Friday at the Radio & Television Correspondents Dinner!
I just discoverered a documentary about Barack Obama’s road to the White House.
The film, titled ‘Barack Obama: People’s President’, is written, produced and directed by Danny Schechter, who was involved in ‘Weapons of Mass Deception’ and ‘Viva Madiba: A Hero For All Seasons’, which told the tale of Nelson Mandela.
Danny Schechter is a journalist, author, television producer and independent filmmaker who also writes and speaks about economic and media issues. He is the executive editor of MediaChannel.org, the world’s largest online media issues online network, and recipient of many awards including the Society of Professional Journalists’ 2001 Award for Excellence in Documentary Journalism. His latest films are Barack Obama, People s President (2009), an examination of how Obama won and IN DEBT WE TRUST: America Before The Bubble Bursts, (2007) an investigation of the impact of credit and debt on American society. The film was one of the first to expose subprime lending and warn of an economic crisis. He was a Director on Viva Madiba, a feature-length biopic tribute to Nelson Mandela on his 90th Birthday. (2008).
I just watched the movie, and it’s a solid overview of the Obama campaign.
My favorite moment: An archival moment of Barack Obama giving a speech in 1989. Who would have thought that this guy would be president?
Here’s an Amazon link for this DVD. If you click on this link and buy this, you not only get a cool DVD, but you also provide a modest donation to the creator of this website.
UPDATE JULY 2011: AMAZON HATES CALIFORNIA and is refusing to pay California affiliates.
I will no longer provide advertising for Amazon and would encourage folks to find other sources.