Opinion

Opinion | Bernie Sanders

Here’s what I’ll do the day after the election

Bernie Sanders speaks during a rally in Santa Monica, Calif., in May.
RINGO CHIU/AFP/Getty Images
Bernie Sanders speaks during a rally in Santa Monica, Calif., in May.

I am currently working as hard as I can to see that Donald Trump is defeated, that Hillary Clinton is elected president, and that Democrats gain control of the US House and Senate. The day after the election, working with millions of grass-roots activists, I intend to do everything possible to make certain that the new president and Congress implement the Democratic platform, the most progressive agenda of any major political party in the history of the United States.

That agenda includes overturning the disastrous Supreme Court decision on Citizens United, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, expanding Social Security, breaking up “too-big-to-fail banks,” making public colleges and universities tuition-free for the middle class, and rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. It also includes pay equity for women, a new approach toward trade, aggressive action to combat climate change, raising taxes on the wealthy and large corporations, lowering prescription drug prices, a significant movement toward universal health care, and major reforms in our criminal justice and immigration systems.

If this election has taught us anything, it is that the American people are sick and tired of the economic, political, and media status quo. They are tired of a rigged economy in which millions work longer hours for lower wages while 52 percent of all new income goes to the top 1 percent. They are tired of billionaires like Trump and large profitable corporations not paying a nickel in federal income taxes while the middle class pays their fair share to support governmental services. They are tired of a corrupt campaign finance system that allows billionaires like the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson, and others to spend hundreds of millions to elect candidates who will represent the wealthy and the powerful. They are tired of corporate media that focus on political gossip and look at elections as personality contests, rather than provide for a serious discussion of the major crises facing our country.

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The anger and frustration of the American people, all across the political spectrum, is palpable. They want a government that represents the needs of working families and not just billionaires. They want bold action to rebuild the shrinking middle class, not inside-the-beltway palliatives written by corporate lobbyists.

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At a time of massive political discontent, when millions not only are contemptuous of the major political parties but also are actually giving up on democracy, we need a new administration that has both vision and courage. We need vision from the top to point the way toward a new America that is more inclusive and egalitarian — which boldly addresses income and wealth inequality, poverty, and the needs of the uninsured. We need an administration that has the courage to take on the powerful special interests — corporate America, Wall Street, the insurance and drug companies, the fossil fuel industry — who stand in the way of real change and whose greed is destroying this country.

There is no moral excuse for the top one-tenth of 1 percent owning as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent, for one family (the Waltons) having more wealth than the bottom 42 percent of our population, for the number of billionaires increasing by ten-fold since 2000 while we continue to have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any industrialized country on earth.

There is no rational reason why we remain the only major country not to guarantee health care to all as a right or provide paid family and medical leave, or why we have more people in jail than any other country on earth at the same time as we have outrageously high levels of youth unemployment in minority communities.

Too many Americans are living in despair and hopelessness. Too many of our brothers and sisters are turning to drugs, alcohol and suicide to avoid the painful economic realities of their lives. Too many others are turning to rage and bigotry as they try to make sense of their declining standard of living.

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At a time of hateful political division, a new president can bring our people together by leading and appointing an administration that will fight for working people. We need a secretary of treasury who is prepared to take on the greed and illegal behavior of Wall Street, not someone who comes from Wall Street or will leave office to go to Wall Street. We need a trade representative who understands that our current trade policies have failed, and that we must adopt a trade approach that represents workers and not the CEOs of large corporations. We need an attorney general who is prepared to vigorously enforce antitrust laws and prosecute bankers and corporate leaders who break the law.

This is a historic and pivotal moment in American history. Now is the time for our next president to rally the American people against Wall Street and corporate greed and stand up vigorously for the declining middle class.

Bernie Sanders is a US senator from Vermont. He was a candidate for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.