What a year it was!
Yes. We all know that we have seen a president take office who is the most dishonest, bigoted, divisive and reactionary president in the modern history of our country.
We have also seen a right-wing extremist, Republican Congress attempt to throw up to 32 million Americans off of the health care they have, give hundreds of billions in tax breaks to the richest people in our country and the largest corporations, destroy environmental legislation and work overtime to deny women the right to control their own bodies.
Yes. We have seen all of that and much more. But we are also seeing something else that, from an historical perspective, is far more important. We are seeing the American people come together, fight back and win important victories all across the country.
During my campaign for president in 2016, I stated over and over again that the future of our country was dependent upon our willingness to make a political revolution. I stressed that real change never occurs from the top on down. It always happens from the bottom on up. No real change in American history, not the labor movement, the civil rights movement, the women's movement, the gay rights movement, the environmental movement or any other movement has ever had success without grassroots activism, without millions of people engaged in the struggle for justice.
That's what I said when I ran for president. That's what I believe now and that's what millions of us have been working to accomplish over the last several years. At a time of massive and growing income and wealth inequality, when our nation moves closer and closer to an oligarchic form of society, we are working hard and effectively to create an unprecedented grassroots political movement to defeat the greed of the billionaire class and the politicians they own.
And the good news is that we're making progress. In state after state ordinary Americans are successfully taking on establishment politicians who are more concerned about protecting their wealthy campaign contributors than the needs of the middle class or working people they are supposed to represent.
In 2017 we made progress when millions of people, in every state in the country, took to the streets for the Women's March in opposition to Trump's reactionary agenda. We made progress when an unprecedented grassroots movement elected a young African-American as mayor of Birmingham, Alabama. We made progress when tens of thousands of Americans turned out in rallies and town meetings to successfully oppose the Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and we're making progress when more and more Americans are joining the fight for a Medicare-for-all, single-payer program.
We're making progress when governors and local officials in every part of the country announce, in response to student demands, tuition-free public colleges and universities. We're making progress when states and communities from coast to coast adopt legislation which provides a minimum wage of $15 an hour.
We're making progress when, on Election Day, Nov. 7, 2017, in local and state elections all across the country, Trumpism suffered a major defeat as hundreds of progressive first time candidates from every conceivable background ran for school board, city council, state legislature and other local offices -- and many of them won.
We're making progress when, on Dec. 10, 2017, a strong Democrat was elected to the U.S. Senate from Alabama, one of the most conservative states in the country.
The truth is that the American people are far more united than the media allows us to believe. They get it. They know that over the last 40 years, despite a huge increase in worker productivity, the middle class has continued to shrink while the very rich have become much richer. They know that, for the first time in the modern history of the United States, our kids will likely have a lower standard of living than their parents.
Our job, in 2018 and beyond, for the sake of our kids and grandchildren, is to bring our people together around a progressive agenda.
Are the people of our country deeply concerned about the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality that we are experiencing? You bet they are. Do they believe that our campaign finance system is corrupt and enables the rich to buy elections? By overwhelming numbers.
Do they want to raise the minimum wage to a living wage and provide pay equity for women workers? Yes they do. Do they think the very rich and large corporations should pay more in taxes so that all of our kids can have free tuition at public colleges and universities? Yup. Do they believe that the United States should join every other major country and guarantee health care as a right? Yes, again. Do they believe climate change is real? You've got to be kidding. Are they tired of the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, having a crumbling infrastructure with roads, bridges, water systems, wastewater plants, airports, rail, levees and dams falling apart? Who isn't?