You and I have great and powerful voices. Our voices are a bit rusty from disuse. But we are preparing to speak again, and as we do, the change we will see and the energy and passion this creates, will be inspiring.
Today, we are beginning to see this beautiful outgrowth from the negative repercussions of the divisive campaign that Donald Trump is running. As he openly discriminates against African-Americans, Latin and Central American immigrants, Muslims, and women, feeding on the fears of those who are feeling powerless and vulnerable because of the state of income inequality in America today, we, as Americans, are faced with an important question. Who has the power to make America great again?
Are we going to choose to give up our personal power to someone else who appears (to some) to be powerful? Are we going to allow someone who represents what Bernie Sanders calls “the billionaire class” to continue to divide and further dis-empower us? Are we going to allow Donald Trump to lower us to a mob mentality in which we attack one another, further diluting the power of the American people?
The goal of men who seek power such as Donald Trump is to distract and take power away from ordinary citizens. His goal is to attract ever more power, more money, and more attention to himself. We all want to be and feel powerful. But harming or undermining others more vulnerable than ourselves is not a way to true power.
Donald Trump has no desire to help people by creating jobs or by strengthening our economy to benefit ordinary working people. It is in his best interest and in the best interest of his fellow billionaires, Republicans, and corporate moguls to take away the vote and the voice of the most vulnerable. It is in the interest of the most wealthy to keep the people of the United States divided against one another, to prevent people from voting, to keep people uneducated and in prison, and to weaken the voice of the American people…so that he and his friends can continue to exploit us.
This exploitation means continued low wages, constantly dwindling benefits, continually rising costs of health care, food, housing, medications, education, and other necessities. This means the wealthy class continuing to exploit low-paid workers overseas and continuing to rape our environment and poison the people with pesticides, plastics, and foods full of antibiotics, hormones, and other toxins. Americans are suffering from extremely dangerous health conditions because of our toxic environment, thanks to our corporations which have bought the votes of “our” elected officials. How many young people do you know who are suffering from cancer and other chronic and often fatal diseases?
If you really want to live in a country which represents working people, ordinary citizens, then you must recognize that your voice and your vote have value. For the American people at large, who do not have the financial power of the billionaire class, the power lies in uniting our voices as one. By working together and realizing that we share common goals, we can restore true democracy to this country.
Bernie Sanders is the only presidential candidate in the 2016 race who is attempting to raise us up to our highest potential as citizens. He continues to repeat that he (nor any other candidate) can make the changes alone. We, the people, have the power. By speaking up, our voices add up, and we can create the changes we want to see realized in this country. We are not powerless, but if we continue to remain silent and passively accept what our corporate leadership imposes, we will remain victims. What we see today, is with the majority of states as “right to work states”, an employer can fire an employee for absolutely no reason. We see the majority of Americans with a lot of personal debt and with little to no health insurance, paid vacation time, paid holidays, sick leave, paid family leave, savings, access to free or affordable college tuition, guaranteed pension plans or other benefits that are common in the European Union and other industrialized nations. Sadly, we have allowed this to happen.
The people of the United States has allowed itself to be lulled to sleep for the last 40 years while all of our benefits for which previous generations fought and struggled have been stripped away. We have been puzzled and worried, working harder and harder and longer hours to try and maintain our dignity and a decent lifestyle. And the time has finally come where we have begun to realize that we have been duped and robbed. The time has come for us to wake up and to take back our voice and our power.
Bernie Sanders is the leader who has been stirring us from our deep sleep. He has been reminding us what democracy is, and what it takes to keep it alive. Without constant effort and vigilance, the wealthy and powerful will make every effort to divide us, to make us think we are powerless, and to do everything they can to keep us poor and without a united voice. Yes, we are all different, but we all want similar basic rights, and we all want and need to be treated with dignity and respect. For the last forty or so years, wealthy corporations and investment banks, their CEOs, and pseudo-think tanks and philanthropic foundations funded by the Koch brothers and other billionaire interest groups have manipulated our political system and financial system to benefit only the wealthy.
Tax payers are subsidizing the wealthy, and we have been brainwashed and manipulated into shaming the poor and the vulnerable. In several recent rally speeches in Virginia, Kansas, and South Carolina, Bernie explained how we, the American people, are subsidizing the wealthiest family in America, the Waltons – owners of WalMart. Because WalMart pays its workers starvation wages, its workers are forced to apply for food stamps, section 8 housing, Medicaid, and other welfare benefits. We, the taxpayers, pay taxes to provide these benefits for the most vulnerable members of our society – people who are unable to work or provide for themselves. Yet millions of Americans are working long hours with unpredictable schedules and no benefits for corporations that are raking in billions of dollars and not paying any taxes or decent wages and benefits to their workers. So, yes, we the American people, are subsidizing the top 1 % with our hard work. The Waltons should be paying their workers well, and instead we are bailing them out. Is that fair? Is that the kind of America we want to perpetuate for our children and grandchildren?
There are so many things that need repair in America today, but the most important is the restoration of human dignity and the punishment of greed. By taking our power back, we the people have a voice. We can not only use our voice to speak up, but as a united force and front, we can influence our elected officials instead of the billionaire lobbies and super-pacs. We can demand that jobs be created for Americans in America. We can buy American-made products. We can demand that our government invest in clean energy, that antibiotic use in farm animals be banned as it is in most industrial countries today. We can use our power to demand that smaller organic farms be subsidized around the nation to create real, clean food that is affordable for all people and which is kinder to farm animals. We can speak up so that all Americans receive fair pay and benefits, including the vacation time we need to rest. We can be an example to the rest of the world by becoming a leader in clean energy.
Americans today work more hours than the Japanese, who are very hardworking people. We can voice our need for a universal health care system eliminating expensive and unpredictable copays and deductibles and in which the costs of treatments and medication are affordable, even without insurance. We can use our voices so that targets of systemic racial, economic, and gender discrimination can contribute their talents proudly. Native Americans should be revered for their traditional wisdom and proximity to Nature. They can lead the way to healing our planet. We have so many talented people who are not getting the education and opportunities they deserve, and the greatness of this country is severely diminished by these talents that never reach their potential.
All of these changes are necessary and possible. There will be many consequences of these changes, some positive, some negative, with global repercussions. We will need to be thoughtful and caring in this process, thinking of the greater good each step of the way. These changes will take time to achieve, because many jobs need to be created in infrastructure, clean energy, universal health care, and other fields, to allow time to recover for people who have lost their jobs or who will lose their jobs because of these important changes. Working together, we have so many talented people who have not yet contributed their intelligence and passion to creating a country in which we can all be truly proud. A country in which we can hope and feel that our children will enjoy a future of true opportunities, get a great education, and be able to live a healthy lifestyle. We deserve dignity, and we have the power to achieve all of this and more.