Oct 5, 2020
Bernie Sanders Ann Arbor Campaign Speech for Joe Biden & Kamala Harris October 5
Bernie Sanders gave a speech at a campaign event for Joe Biden on October 5 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Read the full transcript of his speech here.
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Bernie Sanders: (00:01)
But if these were normal times, and we were one month away from the general election, as we are today, we would have even more people out for a rally. That’s kind of what I think. But as you know, these are not normal times. We are struggling with the worst pandemic to hit this country in 100 years, a pandemic that has already cost us over 200,000 lives, and over 7,000 right here in the state of Michigan. And for that reason, the city of Ann Arbor correctly has established strong guidelines as to how many people can come together for an event, and those are guidelines which makes sense to me in which I support. So the result of that is, instead of having 10,000 people or more out today, we have, I’m guessing, 25 people here, all of them wearing masks, all of them social distancing themselves. And this event is essentially a virtual rally being live streamed throughout the state and throughout the country. And that is the world we are living in today.
Bernie Sanders: (01:33)
What the last few days have told us is that if there was ever any doubt, it should now be clear that no one, no one is safe from this terrible pandemic. Doesn’t matter if you are a frontline worker in a hospital, and today we thank all of the doctors, and nurses, and medical personnel for the extraordinary sacrifices they have made, and in some cases given up their lives for us in this pandemic. And it doesn’t matter if you are an essential worker, critical worker at a supermarket helping us get the food that we need, or a bus driver, if you’re a worker in a meat packing plant. And it doesn’t matter if you are the President of the United States of America. Each and every one of us is vulnerable, and we will remain vulnerable until there is a vaccine or a perfected cure. That is the reality that we face, and there is no getting away from that.
Bernie Sanders: (02:54)
Now, there are some who say that we have to make a choice between having a strong economy on one hand, and protecting the American people from this terrible disease on the other hand. I disagree. The truth is that we will never have a strong economy so long as this pandemic continues to surge. We will never have a strong economy if people are afraid to go to work, if people are afraid to go to school, if people are afraid to shop or go out to a restaurant, or afraid to do all of the things that have always been done. We will never have a strong economy unless we get this pandemic under control. Is the solution to this crisis to shut down the economy and lock everyone in their homes? No, it is not. We can keep our country moving forward. If we do so in a way that is disciplined, not dangerous, that is responsible, not reckless, and if we listen to the science.
Bernie Sanders: (04:40)
And now, importantly, I want you to take a moment and to ask yourselves some very simple questions, and I really want you to think about your answers because there is probably no issue out there more important than this. Which candidate for president has shown that he will be disciplined, that he will be responsible, that he will do his best to protect the people around him as we deal with this pandemic? And the answer is Joe Biden. Which candidate for president has made it clear that he will develop policies which are based on science, not politics, and that he will seek the advice of the best scientists and doctors in our country and around the world in order to combat and defeat this pandemic? And the answer to that question is Joe Biden.
Bernie Sanders: (06:08)
Which candidate for president will develop strong national protocols and guidelines and model the behaviors we all need to engage in to keep our families, our coworkers, and our neighbors safe? And the answer is Joe Biden. Which candidate has the temperament to see us through this unprecedented moment, the worst public health crisis in over 100 years? Let me repeat that question. Which candidate has the temperament to see us through this difficult crisis? I don’t think there is any doubt that the answer to that question is Joe Biden. And my friends, that is why we need Joe Biden as our next president.
Bernie Sanders: (07:18)
And now let me say, if I might, a special word to the young people of our country. During the last year and a half, I have had the extraordinary opportunity to travel all across this country in almost every state in the union. And what I have learned is that the young generation in our country today, Black and white, Latino, Native American, Asian American, is an extraordinarily beautiful group of people. It is the most progressive, the most compassionate, the most open minded young generation in the history of our country. It is a generation that thinks big, not small, and is prepared for a new vision as to what our country can and must become. And that vision is based on the principles of justice, economic justice, racial justice, social justice, environmental justice.
Bernie Sanders: (08:55)
This is a generation that is leading the fight against systemic racism and police brutality. It is a generation that is leading the fight against xenophobia, a generation that is leading the fight against sexism. A generation that is leading the fight against religious bigotry. A generation that is leading the fight against never ending wars, and a bloated military budget. And this is a generation, unlike the current President of the United States, that knows that climate change is real, that it is imperative that we stand up to the fossil fuel industry, and that we are going to need bold action in order to create a planet-
Bernie Sanders: (10:03)
… in order to create a planet that will be healthy for our children and grandchildren. This generation, younger generation, understands all of that.
Bernie Sanders: (10:20)
But, and here is the but, as wonderful and idealistic as how a young generation is, it has one major political shortcoming. And that political shortcoming is that this young generation does not vote in large enough numbers. The voter turnout among young people has improved in the last few years, but it still has a very long way to go. So today, I say to the young people here in Michigan and around the country, if you are worried about the outrageous level of student debt that many of you are incurring, if you are upset about the high cost of college and graduate school, if you are concerned about the low paying jobs that many of you have, if you are concerned and worried about climate change, sexism, racism, homophobia, and religious bigotry, it is not enough to complain or to moan and groan. We’ve got to fight back and the first way is to vote. And not only to vote, but to vote in record breaking numbers. Let me say this again to the younger generation, that if you vote at the same percentages as older people in this country vote, not only will Biden win this election, we will transform this country. The future of America depends upon you. Now all over this country, as many of you know, in many Republican controlled states, and this makes me really very sad, officials in a variety of ways are trying to suppress the vote. They’re cowardly. They are trying to make it harder for working people, poor people, people of color, and young people to vote. They want a low voter turnout because they think that will help them politically.
Bernie Sanders: (12:55)
Fortunately, that is not the case here in Michigan. In Michigan, not only has early voting already begun in every township in the state, but you can still register to vote online until October 19th and in person until election day, same day registration. In other words, you can vote or register to vote right now, no matter where you live in the state. In addition, there are, opening today, new polling sites near three college campuses, East Lansing near MSU, as well as on campus at Western Michigan University and Northern Michigan University. Further, Detroit is opening 21 early voting sites across the city, which will be open seven days a week until election day.
Bernie Sanders: (14:20)
My friends, this is the most important election in the modern history of our country. It is imperative that Joe Biden wins, that we have a Democratic house, including Debbie Dingell, and that we have a Democratic Senate, including your Senator Gary Peters, who must be reelected.
Bernie Sanders: (14:50)
Now, I don’t have to remind anyone here or in Michigan that in 2016, Donald Trump won this state and its 16 electoral votes by two tenths of 1%. Two tenths of 1%. The stakes are just too high. We cannot allow that to happen again. So if anybody has doubts about whether their vote matters, remember what happened in 2016. 10,000 votes in Michigan. So your vote matters. In fact, it can be decisive in determining the future, not only here in Michigan, but because you are a major battleground state, what happens here can well determine the future of the entire United States of America.
Bernie Sanders: (15:56)
Now let me say a word as to why this election is so, so very important. And I don’t have to tell anyone that the young people in our country have been dealt some extraordinarily odd blows throughout their young lives. In fact, young Americans have now lived through the two worst economic crises since the Great Depression of the 1930s. 12 years ago, young people all over this country had to deal with the Wall Street crash that caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs, lose their homes, and lose their life savings. And many have never fully recovered from that crash of 12 years ago.
Bernie Sanders: (16:49)
And today, right now, young people are being hit by the massive economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. During this pandemic right now, 54% of young Americans under the age of 29, have either lost a job or had to take a pay cut more than any other age group. 52% of young Americans have been forced to move back home with their parents. 35% of young Americans have had problems finding enough money to pay for rent, medical bills, or other expenses. Unless we reverse course, everything being equal, the younger generation will for the first time in the modern history of our country have a lower standard of living than their parents because this country right now is experiencing massive downward mobility. We want to go up, not down.
Bernie Sanders: (18:09)
Young Americans today are making less money than their parents did when they entered the workforce. They have smaller savings accounts. They are less likely to own their own homes as the cost of housing has gone up and up and up. They are drowning in student debt for what reason? That they chose to do the right thing and get a college education. And even though young workers are more likely than ever to have a college degree, the jobs they have are not paying them the wages or salaries they need to have an adequate standard of living. And many of the jobs that they have have been hard hit by the pandemic. A majority of bartenders in America are young, half of all restaurant workers in America are young. A huge percentage of the retail sector is filled with young people. And these are precisely the industries that have been hit the hardest by the economic downturn.
Bernie Sanders: (19:22)
In other words, while many millions of young people are struggling to pay off outrageous high levels of student debt, many of them are forced to work for wages that are much too low if they are lucky enough to have a job at all. And if we do not get our act together soon, this very bad situation will become even worse because according to the Department of Labor, the occupations that will create the most jobs in America over the next decade are home healthcare aids, fast food work-
Bernie Sanders: (20:03)
… decade, are home health care aides, fast food workers and cooks, jobs that pay low wages and don’t require a college degree. Let me be as clear as I can possibly be and that is, that in the richest country in the history of the world, we have got to do better than that. We need to create an economy and a government that work for all of us, not just the 1% and wealthy campaign contributors.
Bernie Sanders: (20:39)
Now it is no secret, no great secret at all, that Joe Biden and I have differences of opinion. And as a United States Senator, make no mistake about it, I will continue to fight for the principles that I have advocated for a very long time, I ain’t going away. But I also want to tell you that in fairness to Joe, if his campaign proposals were to be implemented they would significantly improve the lives of tens of millions of working families and would make Joe Biden the most progressive president of the United States since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. And frankly, I don’t think our campaign has done a good enough job in talking about what Joe is fighting for, so let me take a few minutes to do that.
Bernie Sanders: (21:51)
When Joe Biden is president, this is what is clearly in his state of principles, when Joe is president, he will make public colleges, universities, and trade schools tuition free for working families, and he will substantially reduce student debt in America. Under Joe’s plan, if you attended a four year public college or university, and you earn less than $125,000 a year, he will cancel your student debt. Joe understands that every working class and middle class young person should be able to get a higher education regardless of the income of their families.
Bernie Sanders: (22:52)
Unlike the current president, Joe Biden understands that climate change is real, that it is caused by human activity and that we have got to move aggressively to transform our energy system. And that is why Joe is proposing $2 trillion to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel towards energy efficiency and sustainable energy. And by the way, when we make that investment, we create millions of good paying jobs in this country.
Bernie Sanders: (23:34)
And when we talk about the need to raise wages in America, let’s be clear, when Joe Biden is president, we are going to raise the federal minimum wage from the starvation wage of seven and a quarter an hour to a living wage of at least $15 an hour. Joe understands that if you work 40 hours a week, you should not be living in poverty. And Joe also understands that it is absurd that women in America are earning 80 cents on the dollar compared to men. Joe believes, you believe and I believe, equal pay for equal work.
Bernie Sanders: (24:40)
And Joe also knows that if we are going to expand the middle class in this country, we must make it easier for workers to join unions to engage in collective bargaining and to end the heavy handed corporate tactics that make it so hard for workers to unionize in our country. And Joe Biden also understands that we have got to stop providing corporate welfare to companies that are throwing American workers out on the street and moving to low wage countries around the world. When Joe is president, he will sign an executive order to prevent companies that ship American jobs overseas from receiving a nickel in corporate welfare.
Bernie Sanders: (25:40)
And I’ll tell you what Joe Biden also understands and what all of you know to be true, and that is we have got to end the international embarrassment of the United States being the only major country on Earth not to guarantee paid medical and family leave. How absurd is it? How absurd is it that the wealthiest country in the world cannot guarantee paid family and medical leave to its workers? When a woman in this country gives birth, she should not be forced to go back to work after one or two weeks. When a child gets sick, mom or dad should be able to stay home and not lose a day’s pay, and that is why Joe Biden has proposed at least 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave for working families in our country.
Bernie Sanders: (26:55)
And when we talk about little kids and young children, we all know that our current childcare system is a disgrace and is totally inadequate. Our children and their parents deserve high quality, reliable and affordable childcare. And that is why Joe has proposed universal pre-K education for every three and four year old in the country.
Bernie Sanders: (27:37)
And some of you may recall, early in this campaign, I traveled to Canada with a group of diabetics to buy insulin, a life and death drug for more than 30 million Americans. And in fact, that trip with diabetics began in Detroit, Michigan, and here is what we found on that trip, and it’s something I will never forget. And that is you can go 15 miles into Canada and you can buy insulin there for 1/10th of the price that it is sold here in the United States. No, you didn’t miss hear me. I said, you can buy insulin in Canada for 1/10th of the price that it is sold here. Same company, same product, 1/10th of the price. And it’s not just Canada and it’s not just insulin.
Bernie Sanders: (28:48)
While the drug companies through their collusion, through their price fixing and through their greed make obscene profits every year, we end up paying by far the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. One out of five Americans who get a prescription from a doctor cannot afford to fill that prescription, how insane is that? Joe Biden understands that we finally must have the courage to take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry and lower the outrageous prices of prescription drugs in this country.
Bernie Sanders: (29:43)
As I think many of you know, the United States is the only major country on earth, not to guarantee healthcare for all people as a human right. Meanwhile, despite paying almost twice as much per capita for healthcare as the people of…
Bernie Sanders: (30:03)
… much per capita for healthcare as the people of other countries. Over 90 million Americans today are uninsured or underinsured, and almost a half a million Americans go bankrupt because they cannot afford to pay their medical bills. And I’ll tell you something else, an outrage beyond belief, that because of the high cost of healthcare in America, some 60,000 of our people die every single year because they don’t get to a doctor when they’re sick. They just can’t afford to walk into a doctor’s office. How outrageous is that?
Bernie Sanders: (30:47)
Now, Joe and I disagree in the best path to get to universal coverage. I believe in Medicare for all. But while Joe and I disagree, I know that he will greatly expand access to healthcare and make it more affordable for tens of millions of people across this country. He will make sure that everyone in America has access to a public option similar to Medicare. He will lower the eligibility age of Medicare from 65 to 60, no small thing. He will expand Medicare to cover dental care and eyeglasses and hearing aids, and he will substantially increase funding for community health centers to make sure that millions of Americans get the primary healthcare and mental health care that they desperately need. Joe understands, as you understand, as I understand, as Debbie Dingle understands, that when you talk about healthcare it’s not just cancer and a broken leg, it is mental health care as well. Joe Biden also understands that we must end systemic racism in this country, and that we cannot continue to have more people in jail than any other country on earth. And that is why Joe will end private prisons in America and private detention centers. And that is why we will make sure that no one in America sits in a jail cell because they are too poor to afford cash bail. Instead of more jails and incarceration, Joe understands that we need more jobs and more education.
Bernie Sanders: (33:10)
Joe Biden also understands that we are a nation of immigrants. My dad came to this country at the age of 17, and that we cannot continue to terrorize and demonize over 11 million undocumented people in America. And that is why Joe has proposed a comprehensive immigration reform plan, and a path toward citizenship for the undocumented. That is why he will provide legal status for the 1.8 million young people eligible for the DOCA program, and that is why he will end the disastrous ICE raids and develop a humane border policy for those who seek asylum. No more snatching babies from the arms of their mothers.
Bernie Sanders: (34:14)
My friends, in this unprecedented moment in American history. Let us reject those who want to divide us up based on the color of our skin, or our religion, or our sexual orientation, or the country of our birth. Let us come together as never before, black and white, latino, Asian American, Native American, gay and straight, those of us who were born in this country, those of us who emigrated here. Let us come together to elect a democratic congress. Let us come together to enact the most progressive agenda in the modern history of this country. Let us come together to build an America that works for all and not just the billionaire class. And let us elect Joe Biden as the next president of the United States of America.
Bernie Sanders: (35:33)
Thank you all very much.