Sen. Bernie Sanders Speaks at 2019 National Action Network Conference Watch Sen. Bernie Sanders' full remarks at the 2019 National Action Network Conference.
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I think a lot when I'm doing yard work. Perhaps the mindless manual labor relaxes my brain. As I rake and shovel, thoughts tumble around in my head in what seems like the random action of the numbered balls in a bingo caller's canister - the news of the day, a passage from a book I read, a lecture from the great Noam Chomsky all colliding and connecting, and then BINGO! They will all converge to form a collective truth. And today, that truth was the full realization of why we need Bernie Sanders as our President.
With the field of Democratic candidates expanding every week, and the advocates of any given candidate already prepared to attack the other, I need to say this clearly and unequivocally. Bernie Sanders understands something that no other candidate seems to grasp. He understands, truly understands, the power we the people possess - and he is ready to be the vessel through which we exercise that power.
Bernie understands capitalism far better than many of those who advocate for it. He understands its history. He understands its exploitation. He understands its greed. He understands its capacity for ruthlessness. I think to sum it up I could borrow a phrase used by Trump earlier this week and just change the word "immigrant" to "corporations": Corporations are not people, they are animals.
When I got my dog, who is now 5, I wanted to train him to sit and stay and be well behaved. But I didn't want to be burdened with the time consuming task of training. So I just sat him down and looked into his little puppy face and said, "Now Kairo, I need you to understand that people who don't have dogs may not like dogs and so you must be well behaved. You must learn to sit and stay and to not bark all day lest I get complaints from the neighbors. And you have to do your business outside and please don't chew things. And you must not bite people because that is just not nice." Of course this is a laughable scenario and no one trains their dog this way because it simply would not work.
The dog is an instinctual animal. It can be trained but one has to understand what motivates the dog. Long philosophical conversations about how his behavior represents the way people will see dogs will not do the trick. Neither will shaming him. Neither will guilting him. You have to do the training in a way that utilizes the dog's instincts. Dogs understand fear and food.
So I hold out a treat and the dog, now alert and desperate for the treat is watching for the cue. What do I want him to do to get that treat? The dog will figure out very quickly what I want and he will do it. I understand what he wants. I have to use that to make him understand what I want.
We need Bernie Sanders because he understands corporate America. He knows the treat that it wants is profit. He understands that throughout history corporations have demonstrated that they have no moral compass, no empathy, no higher thought function that can be swayed through compassionate appeal. In fact, those who have tried to do so have been demonized, thrown in jail, beaten and killed.
Dogs also have an instinct for hierarchy. Dogs in a group will quickly determine who is in charge and they will fall in line. When corporations have the upper hand they know it. But there have been times when workers rose up and challenged them. After fighting what amounted to be a labor war, workers proved that they were capable of taking charge.
Bernie knows the only time concessions were ever made is when workers took control and threatened the profits of their masters. He knows that the working class having a voice, having control, making demands is terrifying to corporations and he knows that with every attempt to repress them, they only drift further towards socialist principles.
We need Bernie for the same reason coal miners needed Mother Jones. We need someone who is unapologetic. Someone who can reaffirm this truth to us, that WE are the workforce and there is no profit for them that does not originate with us. They are wealth managers. They are profiteers. We are the creators, we are the providers and we are the builders. Reminding us of this causes great fear in the corporations.
We need someone who won't defend CEO's who make 271 times the average worker salary saying "Well they deserve it because they work really hard and they make it all happen" I've worked at corporations where the "top man" at the company left or was fired and it took weeks to months to fill his position. Let me ask you this, if there were no line workers at a business for weeks or months, would that business survive? Would the company tolerate a complete absence of its workers for weeks or months? No because that would hurt profit. But, the longer they wait to replace "important" people in the company the more they save on payroll. So it does beg the question, "How badly were they needed if their position could remain vacant that long?"
I've worked at companies where a Director of a Department was not replaced for over a year. Now this individual was making a very good wage, allegedly because his position was "vital" but the company managed to survive for an entire year without him because they were saving money by not replacing him. And for those who would argue that in the interim the Director's duties were merely being done by others until a new Director was hired, I would argue that if the other Directors can absorb that work for a year, why not eliminate the position? That's sure what they do at the line level. Managers often eliminate positions and shift the workload to other workers so save payroll. Sometimes one worker will be doing two or three other people's job duties all so the company can reduce staff.
We need someone who doesn't accept big pharma's excuses for charging thousands for life saving medicines. We need someone who is not ok with those same people dying because they simply can't afford it.
For all the complaints people have lodged against socialists, the improvements in work safety and standards, the reduction in workplace discrimination, higher wages, and social safety nets like unemployment compensation wouldn't have existed without them. Those courageous, unapologetic socialists won battles not through negotiating but in taking a stand and refusing to back down.
The only counter balance the right has ever had to offer in the face of socialism's popular appeal is fear mongering, red-baiting and age old inaccurate stereotypes about Socialists. Those tactics worked in days gone by, but these lies fall on deaf ears with millennials and those whose real life experience is desperate enough, fearful enough, that such propaganda is a weak weapon. We have a chance to reclaim our seat at the table - and Bernie is offering it to us. The only question now is, will we have the courage to take it.