Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Sunday delivered a speech to a group of left-wing supporters in Louisville, Kentucky, where he contrasted the radical left’s vision for the country with the agenda presented by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), contending the country is currently drifting toward anarchy and authoritarianism while outlining the need for free college, amnesty, and an increased minimum wage.
Sanders laid out a dire state of affairs in a rally alongside former Kentucky State Representative Charles Booker, citing the fight against systemic racism, climate change, and the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.
“Will we create a government, an economy, and a society that works for all of us and not just the one percent?” Sanders asked.
“Or will we continue the drift towards oligarchy and authoritarianism in which a small number of incredibly wealthy and powerful billionaires own and control a significant part of the economy and exert enormous influence over the political life of our country?” Sanders said, calling it the “fundamental” question of our time and touting the American Rescue Plan.
Sanders said, blasting McConnell for not supporting raising the minimum wage to $15 and for standing against the radical left’s H.R. 1, or the “For the People Act,” which would nationalize U.S. elections:
But what I am not proud to tell you is that Mitch McConnell led the effort against that bill …. and was able to convince every Republican in the Senate and the House to oppose it. We passed that bill after 16 hours of debate at 5 o’clock in the morning, with Vice President Harris casting the tie-breaking vote.
He continued, per a readout of his prepared remarks:
But when we look at Senator McConnell and his Republican ideology, it’s not just what he’s doing now. It’s what he’s done in the recent past. Under Trump, he led the effort to try and take health care away from up to 32 million Americans and to substantially raise the premiums of older Americans by repealing the Affordable Care Act. Can you imagine that? We are the only major country on earth not to guarantee health care for all, and McConnell wanted to throw millions off the health care they had.
Over the course of his career, Senator McConnell has received huge campaign contributions from Wall Street banks like Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase – from health insurance companies like Blue Cross/Blue Shield, United Healthcare and Humana – from pharmaceutical companies like Eli Lilly and Pfizer – from fossil fuel companies like Koch Industries and Marathon Petroleum, and of course, from Walmart and the NRA.
Those “huge corporations” and special interest groups oppose key left-wing agenda items — such as raising the minimum wage and guaranteeing health care — and “so does Mitch,” Sanders continued, attempting to make a connection.
Those influential special interest groups include the National Rifle Association (NRA), Sanders said, using the opportunity to blast the Second Amendment organization from opposing the left’s gun-grabbing proposals.
In all, Sanders demanded that the U.S. raise the minimum wage, introduce guaranteed health care and paid family and medical leave, make “public colleges, universities, trade schools and HBCUs tuition-free,” cancel student debt for working families, introduce free universal childcare, make amnesty a reality, and pass legislation that would effectively make it more difficult for states to implement basic election safeguards, such as voter ID.
“It means that we must make it easier, not harder, to vote, and prevent billionaires from buying politicians by moving to the public funding of elections,” he said, according to the prepared remarks:
It means demanding that the wealthiest Americans and most profitable corporations start paying their fair share of taxes. No. We cannot continue to allow large profitable corporations like Nike and Federal Express to make billions of dollars in profits and pay nothing in net federal income taxes over the past three years. We cannot continue to allow billionaires to pay a lower effective tax rate than teachers, truck drivers or nurses. We need real tax reform.
It means humane immigration reform and a path to citizenship. We can no longer tolerate children in this country living in fear that one day their parents will no longer be there for them when they come home from school.
It means ending systemic racism, creating real criminal justice reform and ending the disastrous war on drugs. Yes. We must legalize marijuana and expunge marijuana arrest records. We must abolish private prisons and detention centers and end cash bail. No more profiting off of locking people up and throwing them in jail.
Sanders added that the difference between himself and McConnell, in terms of ideology, is not big government versus small government. Rather, it is “a question of whose interests the government represents.”
“The choice is very clear. If you believe in a vibrant democracy and not authoritarianism, if you believe that all Americans are entitled to economic security and that we must stand with the working families of this country, if you believe that all people, regardless of race, country of origin or sexual orientation are entitled to equal justice, if you believe in environmental sanity and combating climate change, the choice could not be clearer” Sanders said, according to his prepared remarks, calling for progressives to build on the movement.