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April 1, 2019 - U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders declared, "We're going to bring our country together to fight for an agenda that works for all of us, and not just the people on top." Sanders was the only candidate to use the podium. 
Bernie Sanders—Transcript of Opening Remarks

Thank you.  It is an honor and a pleasure to be here with you. And I will tell you why. Because you guys are doing exactly what has to be done in this country. You are organizing at the grassroots level, you are standing up and fighting back against Trump's racism and sexism and homophobia and religious bigotry, you are fighting for a government that represents all of us, and not just the 1%. Thank you very much for what you're doing.

The crisis that we are facing today, it's not complicated. It has everything to do that we have a government that ignores the needs of working people, ignores the needs of minorities, ignores the needs of women, yet works overtime for wealthy campaign contributors and the 1%.

And what our job is is not radical. It's what the American people want. They want a government which represents all of us, not just the people on top. So thank you for helping to lead that fight.

Now in the midst of a lot of bad news that comes from the White House, I want to give you some good news.

And that is, we have come a long way over the last four years and you guys are part of the progress that we have made. Let me give you, let me give you some examples.

Four years ago when I ran for president, some of us were talking about raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. We were told we were crazy. It was a radical idea. Remember that?

Imagine doubling the federal minimum wage. Well guess what's happened, six states have already voted to raise that minimum wage, and a few weeks ago the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor voted out of committee a bill to raise the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour.

A few years ago, we were saying you know we live in a competitive global economy, and if this economy is going to be successful for working people, everybody in this country, regardless of income, has the right to get a higher education.

People said oh my God that's just too radical; can't be done. In the last four years, all over this country, cities and states are moving to making public colleges and universities tuition free. And to substantially—and this is what our job is—we are going to substantially if not completely end the outrage of millions of Americans dealing with student debt in this country.

Four years ago, we had a real, you really want to hear a really radical and crazy idea. I mean this is so radical I hesitate to bring it forward. Imagine— the establishment went crazy, media went nuts, still is. Imagine the United States joining the rest of the industrialized world and guaranteeing health care to all people, as a right not a privilege.

Well we've come a really long way. It was a radical idea four years ago. Poll after poll shows a majority of Americans support that idea as well. Alright.

Four years ago we were talking about the ugliness, vulgarity of the United States having more people in jail than any other country on Earth, disproportionately African American, Latino, and Native American, and we said that maybe instead of investing in jails and incarceration, we should invest in our young people in jobs and education.

Well, we are beginning to see, beginning—we've got a long way to go, all over the country—good
people standing up and saying, our goal is not to have more people in jail. It is to have fewer people in jail.

And when we talk about criminal justice reform, we have to talk about ending the war on drugs.
Four years ago it was a radical idea to say maybe we should legalize or decriminalize the possession of marijuana.

Well, four years have come and gone and guess what? State after state, including the state of Vermont, DC have done just that.

Four years ago there weren't many voices out there that were talking about a corrupt political system in which billionaires are able to buy elections, and that maybe we should move to overturn Citizens United and move to public funding of elections.

Four years ago there was not a whole lot of discussion about the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality in America, where three families today. Believe, listen to this. Three families own more wealth than the bottom half of the American people.

And at a time when millions of families, people are working two or three jobs, 46% of all new income is going to the top 1%. So what we said, and I think more and more people are saying it now, maybe instead of giving tax breaks to billionaires and large private corporations, maybe we should demand that the wealthy and profitable corporations start paying their fair share of taxes

The mantra of our campaign is, "Not me, but us." And the reason for that is not just that is sounds like a good bumper sticker. The reason for that is that's the simple truth.

No president, no matter how well-intentioned or honest he or she may be, can do it alone. So I'm going to tell you what very few people will tell you. Is that the power of Wall Street, the power of the fossil fuel industry who lies to us every day about climate change, the power of the insurance companies, of the pharmaceutical companies, of the military industrial complex—that power is so great that the only way we defeat it is when millions of people, black and white and Latino, Native American, Asian American, gay and straight, immigrant and native born, unless we come together and say to Trump that those days of hatred and divisiveness is over. We're going to bring our country together to fight for an agenda that works for all of us, and not just the people on top.

Thank you very much.

Ebony Wiggins, a Planned Parenthood patient advocate and supporter from Nashville, Tennessee: "...If you become president what sort of reform measures would you take to restore legitimacy to our federal courts along with allowing elected officials to govern successfully, and most importantly, ensure that fair-minded, unbiased nonpolitical people serve on the bench?"

Lauren Poteat, from southern Virginia, currently serves as the Chair for Women in NAACP-DC Chapter: "...If you do become president in the 2020 elections, during your first 100 days in office what plans of action do you plan to address when you're talking about voter suppression, making it [inaud.?] for everyone to get to the polling offices and to kind of stop this ongoing attack on people of color's voting rights?"

Pam Rall-Johnston is a janitor at the University of Pittsburgh, where she’s worked for the past 28 years. She’s a public sector member of 32BJ SEIU: "...The question I have for you is, if there are two workers. And the union employee has good wages, benefits and retirement. The non-union worker is in a right to work state, where they can't even get the right to join a union. So what would you do as president to make sure that worker's rights in the workplace are stood up for?"

Ebony Wiggins.
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