Dear Mr. Sanders,
I am a single mom, and like many of your supporters, I had to resign from my full-time library job because I was not making enough money to buy food. I was worried I would not be able to send my son to college, and I was starting to accumulate debt despite living extremely frugally. Unlike many Americans, I went to live in France by myself when I was 19. I went to art school and lived in France for nearly 18 years, experiencing the many differences in social values, healthcare, and culture that I learned to appreciate over the years. Because I love to read and learn every day, I have devoted much time to teaching myself about nutrition, public health, environmental issues, and social justice. I write my own blog to help share my growing awareness of the lack of balance we are currently experiencing globally and in particular in the United States, in large part due to corporate greed and a loss of grounding – being out of touch with nature and wisdom traditions (more feminine values as expressed in many aboriginal cultures.)
The point of my letter to you here is that I agree with all of the issues you are expressing in your campaign, but I would like to add two extremely important issues which, like all of the others, are linked…and which we have in our power to resolve to create a hopeful future for our children in America and around the world.
Mark Bittman’s book: A Bone to Pick explains very clearly explains the current public health crisis and how government subsidies to Big Agriculture (mostly corn and soy) as well as support of Big Pharma and pesticide manufacturers are basically an official sponsorship of the junk food diet which is causing the biggest public health crisis that has ever existed. There simply doesn’t seem to be any commitment by our government to solving these key issues. Children and adults are needlessly suffering from diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cancer, strokes, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses mostly due to our national junk food laden poor diet, exposures to plastics, chemicals, and pesticides in our food, water, and the environment. This costs our country nearly a trillion dollars each year, and this suffering is entirely preventable!!! Mr. Bittman explains how we can subsidize smaller farms to produce real food, and to teach people how to shop, eat, and cook. He also has many practical ideas about how to help exploited farm workers, how to clean up the environment, and reduce our exposure to dangerous antibiotic resistant bacteria.
We agree that corporate greed paying off our elected officials to promote legislation that benefits few is harming the people of America in so many ways. I am really worried about huge epidemics which are coming caused by the unregulated use of antibiotics on farm animals. Europe has banned the use of antibiotics in farm animals. Also, huge CAFOs are extremely cruel to animals and create enormous damage to the environment. If we could promote smaller farms in which animals are treated humanely (and where antibiotic use is not needed except if an animal is ill), and teach people to eat less meat, we could solve the global warming problem, as most greenhouse gases are caused by overproduction of animals raised for meat, their manure (which cannot be recycled, as it is full of drugs and harmful bacteria). We would also protect our water supply, as raising animals requires a huge amount of water. By simply increasing awareness of consumers and regulating these industries, we can collectively create a world where parents don’t have to worry so much about the shortened lifespans of their children and a bleak future for all of us.
Mr. Sanders, I am really worried about the future, and it terrifies me that Americans have been so passive, allowing greedy corporate CEOs, banks, and lobbyists to manipulate those in power and progressively strip us of our rights and benefits for which so many people fought so hard earlier in the 20th century. I believe that we, the people, are the government, but that we have to be responsible and speak up. I learned in France how people get out in the streets and make their voices heard when they feel they are not being represented accurately. I live in the state of Georgia, where workers have no rights, and where healthcare costs keep going up while coverage keeps decreasing. In fact, healthcare in Georgia is more expensive than in any other state in the south, even though our salaries are just as low as those of our neighboring states. I have trouble sleeping at night. But I want to make a difference, and I work hard to learn about the issues and to speak up. I don’t like the feeling that America is a land of opportunism rather than opportunity. Since I have returned to the States, I have been robbed and conned so many times, and I know we are teaching children the message that to be free is to do whatever you like without being held accountable. Few are the parents who teach their children boundaries and how to behave in public places… how to respect others and how to respect themselves. I believe that with freedom comes great responsibility. Ours is a very individualistic society, but living in a group means we need to take care of one another, all while contributing and accepting to do our part. I find that most Americans have trouble understanding this concept, and many feel that “Socialism” is a form of irresponsible behavior. Perhaps you could help people to understand that we all need dignity and we all want and need to share our skills and to be appreciated?
You seem to be one of few people of integrity in our government, and I feel very much encouraged by your voice. I have contributed to your campaign, and I continue to make a modest contribution each month because I believe that a single payer healthcare system, support of Social Security, raising the minimum wage, supporting Planned Parenthood, making higher education of quality available to all, and supporting labor unions are all extremely important issues.
Thank you for the work that you do!