Nov. 19, 2018 - State Sen. Richard Ojeda (D-WV) Launch Rally

• Ojeda announced his candidacy via video a week earlier on Nov. 12, 2018.

State Sen. Richard Ojeda (D-WV)
Launch Rally
Teamsters 783
Louisville, KY
Nov. 19, 2018

[DEMOCRACY IN ACTION Transcript  |  Video]

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

For those of you that traveled long distances, this truly means the world to me.

For 24 years. I served in the United States military.

I deployed. and we did things because we believed that we were going to give those countries a sliver of the greatness that we have here in the United States military, in the United States of America.

I lived in a bubble.  Everybody that my children played with were military brats, everybody that my wife dealt with was a military spouse, and everybody that I dealt with was a light airborne sapper.

And then I returned home from Afghanistan.  And I found myself right back home, where I was raised.  And I was devastated.

I was devastated what I saw, because I realized that it was all a lie.

I come home and I saw children that had worse than the children that I saw in Iraq and Afghanistan in my backyard.

And then I asked myself, what did my brothers die for?  Because they didn't die for this.

I caught a lot of flack a few months ago because I was on a documentary., and I said, I'm tired of people saying America is the greatest country because we can whip your butt.

We've got serious problems in this country.  And we have to address those problems.

We have an opioid epidemic that has ripped apart our communities  It has killed thousands upon thousands of our citizens.  You crash planes into our towers, and we will spend the next 17 years at war with you.  But Big Pharma has killed more people than all the lives lost during the Vietnam War, for the last two years, and we sit silent and do nothing.  We do nothing.

We have elderly that are cutting their meds in half and are trying to survive on Social Security.  Let me give you a statistic.  In Wyoming County in West Virginia over 80% of the grandparents are raising their grandchildren.  Think about that. And we do nothing, nothing to help those people out.

I spent four years in the classroom when I retired from the military, and I saw children go to school hungry.  I saw children walk down the hallways with inadequate footwear and holes in their clothes.

I remember the first day that I started teaching at Chapmanville Regional High School, and it was lunchtime and the cafeteria ladies walked out with these two metal trays of corn dogs.  And they said, we've got extra corn dogs.  And I watched young girls jump over tables to grab handfuls of corn dogs and stick them in their purses, and it dawned on me.  They're doing that because they know they, they need food at home.  Think about that.

We have a lack of jobs in this country.  I know that you hear President Trump saying, the job numbers, they're the highest ever.  That's right.  But they're not real jobs that you can raise a family on.

Right now, today—that's right, that's right.

Today you have to have three jobs to be able to be able to survive.  Unacceptable.  We deserve better.  You are worth it.  Fact.

But in the meantime, our politicians don't seem to give a damn.

But I still feel that America is not too far gone, and that we can fix this.

In America today politicians are legislating themselves into wealth.

I'm going to tell you this. Right now, staff sergeants in the United States Army, that are in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, that have children, qualify for food stamps.  That ladies and gentlemen, is sacrifice.  They're willing to give their lives, and it's not for the pay.

And then we have elected officials that run for office and they say, "I'm here to support you.  I want to fight for you.  I want to serve you." But in reality they're self serving.  A person runs for Congress, they run for Senate, after one term they're worth millions upon millions of dollars.

They run for office and they claim to fight for you, but they're not really.  Really, they're supporting the lobbyists.  Lobbyists write the bills in Congress, and then they hand them to their representation, the representatives, and then they reward those who push those bills, and get them passed.

I believe it's time for us to have transparency in our government.

Right now, police officers have to wear body cameras.  Why do not lobbyists wear body cameras?

I believe we should call for all lobbyists to wear body cameras.  They're not allowed to dilly-dally in the hallways any more.  They're only allowed to go to the capitols after they have set up their meetings, and you, the citizen, can go and you can type in the name of your representative, and see the meetings he has for the day.  And when you look and see, oh that's big pharma talking to my representative.  I'm going to watch what they say.  And then, that ladies and gentlemen is how we stop the backdoor deals.  No more fancy theaters hosted by Big Cnergy, no more retreats hosted by Big Pharma, Wall Street and organizations like ALEC.

We need real leaders.  Never ask someone to do something that you yourself are not willing to do, Where I come from, you don't eat until your troops are fed.

You will be surprised at how fast we can fix the healthcare system in America if the members of Congress, and Senate, and our President of the United States has to fall under the exact same system.  No more golden plan for you.  You get the bronze package like every one of us and make no mistake about it, when they cast a vote, when they make a decision, and they know that that is going to absolutely affect their families. we will fix health care in this country.

You're gonna be surprised at how fast we can fix the public school system when the elected officials have to send their children to public school.  Maybe then they'll respect our teachers and school service personnel.

And you would be surprised at how fast you will see diplomacy start to work when the very people that beat the war drums and want to send your sons and daughters to fight their battles have to ante up their fighting age children first.  Bone spurs don't count.

Right now members of Congress vote on legislation that deals with the housing industry, the banking industry and, and more, with little to no regard of how those decisions impact us.  They can't represent us, because they're not one of us.  While our families have been torn apart by the opioid epidemic, politicians have been raking in big money from the vey companies responsible.

That is why it's time to check Big Pharma and their influence on our government.  And this is how we do it, ladies and gentlemen, listen up.

Legalize cannabis.  I want to open up our jails and let every single person out that is in there due to simple possession.  Get them out of there.  Let's take that money, let's take that money that we would spend on that and let's put that into real recovery.

It's time to give real relief and recovery to communities that have been devastated by opioids, and not on the backs of the American taxpayers, but on the backs of those who caused this problem.

Gone, gone are the days where those companies can make millions by creating an opioid crisis, and then make more millions trying to solve it.

Addiction recovery needs to be a part of every American healthcare system, because every American deserves a chance to overcome this disease.

That is why Medicare for all is the right idea for America.  Medicare for all.  It's time for America to join the modern world that says healthcare is a right, not a privilege.

And finally, it's no secret that we need jobs.  Wages in America have remained stagnant, and that's due to our attack on unions.

My focus will be creating a plan that will create millions of union jobs.  They pay good wages and strengthen our middle class, and give working families the ability to collectively bargain and have a seat at the table.

I believe that the American Dream still exists and I will not stop until we can make it a reality.

in 1999 I gave an oath.

I, Richard Ojeda, do solemnly swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic and bear true faith and allegiance to the same.  I will obey the orders of the President of the United States, and the orders of the officers appointed over me according to the regulations in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, so help me God.

I now give an oath to you.  My oath to you is that I will never sell you out.

I will not take corporate money.  I don't want it.  I'll do everything in my power to make sure that Americans who are sick not only have access to healthcare as a basic human right, but that every American who hs found themselves struggling with addiction will finally get access to the help that they deserve.

I will strengthen our unions and our middle class families, so that no longer will they be pushed around by employers, but will finally have a seat at the table.

These are my promises that I give to you, and I'm asking for you to give me a chance.

[Audience Member: You've got it!]

I'm not a typical lifetime politician that you're used to seeing, but my leadership comes from somewhere else.  I come from a system that believes in values: loyalty, duty, respect selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage.  That's what is lacking in Washington DC, and that's what I'm going to bring to Washington DC, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I am running for the president of the United States of America.  You are worthy.

Sappers clear the way.  Airborne all the way.

[Cheering.  Chants: Ojeda, Ojeda].


[13 minutes]