The following is a transcript of Bernie Sanders’ speech at the People’s Summit in Chicago.
Thank you! Thank you very much! It is an honor to be here. Let me begin by thanking the hundreds of thousands of Americans who are continuing the political revolution to transform America. That revolution, our revolution, continues!
Some of our fellow revolutionaries criticized President Trump’s recent speech at the Boy Scout Jamboree, saying it was like a Hitler Youth rally. I reject that characterization, but I also reject Donald Trump. Let me tell you why.
As I go here and there throughout the country, now simply as a public speaker, people from the middle class ask me why I believe our revolution is necessary, instead of working within the framework of the established political order and with the collaboration of the parties already in existence. Why must we have a new party, and especially why a new revolution?
Surely nobody will doubt that the eight years of the Obama Administration were of the most momentous character – it was as if a storm passed over America. Unfortunately, the storm broke before it could complete its transformative work.
Who can compare America today with that which existed on the 20th of January eight years ago? And yet there is much, much, more work to be done.
Our revolution is about ending the 40-year decline of our middle class. The reality that 47 million men, women and children today live in poverty. It is about understanding that if we do not transform our economy, our younger generation will likely have a lower standard of living than their parents.
It is not moral, it is not acceptable, and it is not sustainable that the top 1/10th of 1 percent now owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.
Our revolution is about understanding the real problems facing this country and finding real solutions.
The main plank of our revolution is to abolish the selfish and destructive concept of the individual, and to substitute a community that is bound together by our common humanity.
One of the causes of our current affairs can be attributed to the fact that the structure of our government is, and always has been, foreign to the American character, our historical development, and our community’s needs.
This critical situation cannot be remedied by collaborating with the causes of it, but only by a radical extermination of those causes. Under such conditions, the struggle must necessarily take the form of a political revolution.
It is out of the question to think that such a revolutionary reconstruction could be carried out by existing political organizations. We all know what happened to my campaign for president.
Nor would it be possible to bring this about by collaborating with these institutions, but only by establishing a new movement which will fight against them for the purpose of carrying through a radical reformation in political, cultural, and economic life.
I am speaking of a Democratic Socialist revolution. A revolution that must have a particularly American character and yet remain in the international revolutionary tradition. A revolution that will end the movement toward oligarchy that we are seeing in this country.
Our revolution will defend a woman’s right to choose, workers’ rights, the rights of the LGBT community, and the needs of minorities and immigrants and the government’s ability to protect our environment.
I do not know if there ever has been a revolution which is of such a profoundly moral character as ours and which, at the same time, will allow even many of our bitterest enemies, some of whom occupy the highest positions in the government, to follow their respective callings in private life peacefully and without worry.
This absence of destruction is possible only because we stand by the principle which not only guided our conduct in the past but which we shall also never forget in the future. This principle is that the purpose of a revolution cannot be to produce chaos but only to replace what is bad by substituting something better, guided by science.
Unlike the Republicans who reject science, we have and will continue to act boldly to transform our society because there will be more drought, more floods, more acidification of the oceans, more rising sea levels.
The reason climate change will cause unspeakable suffering and misery is because we lost our instinct for community. This loss was caused by a wrong and lopsided educational system which we are working hard to change. Fortunately, there are millions of people living today for whom the ancient law of social justice has become clear and intelligible. It has now become a subject of intense scientific research in America.
And I can confidently say that, just as the knowledge that the earth moves around the sun led to a revolutionary alternation in the general world-picture, so the social justice doctrine of the Democratic Socialist movement will bring about a revolutionary change in our knowledge and a radical reconstruction of the picture which human history gives us of the past and will also change the course of that history in the future.
Science can also light our way to see millions more Americans gain access to primary health care, dental care, mental health counseling, low-cost prescription drugs through a major expansion of community health centers.
And what is Donald Trump’s position on health care? Well, no surprise there, same old, same old Republican contempt for working families. He wants to abolish the Affordable Care Act, throw 20 million people off of health insurance, and cut Medicaid for lower-income Americans.
On the international stage, our emphasis on science and social justice will lead not to an estrangement between nations. On the contrary, it will bring about for the first time a real understanding of one another, because diversity is one of our greatest strengths.
Yes, we become stronger when black and whites, Latino, Asian American, Native American, when all of us stand together.
Yes, we become stronger when men and women, young and old, gay and straight, native-born and immigrant fight together to create the kind of country we all know we can become.
At the same time, social justice will prevent extremists from insinuating themselves as elements of internal disruption, under the mask of honest world-citizens, and thus gaining power over us.
If we are serious about transforming our country, if we are serious about rebuilding the middle class, if we are serious about reinvigorating our democracy, we need to develop a political movement which, once again, is prepared to take on and defeat a ruling class whose greed is destroying our nation.
But our revolution is different from those of the past. We know that we can use the entrepreneurial and managerial classes instead of destroying them. That the state can control without owning. And the economy can be planned and directed without completely dispossessing the propertied classes.
I am convinced that the consequences of this really revolutionizing vision of truth will bring about a radical transformation in American life. For the first time in our history, the American people can find a way to a higher unity than they ever had before; and that is due to the compelling attraction of this inner feeling. Innumerable prejudices have been broken down, many barriers have been overthrown as unreasonable, evil traditions have been wiped out and antiquated symbols shown to be meaningless.
From the chaos of disunion which had been caused by tribal, dynastic, philosophical, religious and political strife, America is still striving to form a more perfect union. For the eight years prior to this, American legislation upheld and enforced this idea.
Now our revolution needs to stop fascists from perpetrating physical violence, stop greedy billionaires from continuing their campaign of economic violence, stop the government from waging legal violence, and stop corporations from perpetuating environmental violence.
Our revolution continues!
Thank you. Thank you. God bless America!