We have a president who is a fraud, a pathological liar and a racist
We are living in a truly unprecedented moment in history and the actions we take now, together, will determine not only the future of our country but the entire world. If there has ever been a time in American history when our people must stand together in the fight for economic, social, racial and environmental justice — now is that time.
The bad news is that we have a president who is a fraud, a pathological liar and a racist. The good news is that the American people are standing up, fighting back and are demanding fundamental changes in our economic and political system.
The bad news is that we have a president who just shut down the government for 35 days because he couldn’t get an expensive and unneeded wall with Mexico, while 800,000 federal employees tried to survive without paychecks.
The good news is that federal workers and their unions fought back and, with the airline industry facing growing delays because of worker sickouts, the president relented and reopened the government.
The bad news is that the scientific community is telling us that climate change is the greatest global crisis facing the planet, while we have a president and Republican leadership who are working overtime for more deregulation of the fossil fuel industry — and even more carbon emissions.
The good news is that at the grassroots level, here and around the world, more and more people, led by the younger generation, understand that we need bold initiatives to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy.
The bad news is that at a time of massive wealth and income inequality, when the 3 wealthiest Americans own more wealth than the bottom half of our country and 46% of all new income is going to the top 1%, we have a president and Republican leadership who want even more tax breaks for billionaires.
The good news is that poll after poll shows that the American people want the wealthiest people in this country and the largest profitable corporations to start paying their fair share of taxes. They understand that instead of giving tax breaks to billionaires we should be rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and investing in health care and education.
The bad news is that the middle class continues to shrink and millions of Americans today are working for starvation wages. Many of them are forced to work two or three jobs just to survive and receive little or no family leave or vacation time.
The good news is that in state after state, community after community, legislation is being passed guaranteeing a living wage to all workers of $15 an hour. It is very likely that a $15 per hour minimum wage bill will be passed by the U.S. House of Representatives this session. My Senate bill for a $15 minimum wage now has 31 co-sponsors.
The bad news is that we have a corrupt political system that allows billionaires to spend unlimited sums of money to elect candidates who represent their interests. We also see widespread voter suppression and extreme gerrymandering.
The good news is that there is overwhelming support to overturn the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, and good progress is being made to strengthen our democracy. In the last election, voter turnout soared and young people participated in record-breaking numbers. In Florida, as a result of a citizen referendum, 1.4 million people who served time for a felony conviction will have their voting rights restored.
The bad news is that, tragically, institutional racism continues to remain strong in the United States. The already large wealth gap between whites and blacks is growing wider. There is a massive level of racial disparity in terms of health care, education, housing, social mobility and access to capital.
The good news is that the younger generation today, the future of our country, is the least racist in our history and is prepared to fight for racial justice. Further, we are seeing more and more people of color running for office — from school board to Congress — and many of them are winning. They, and all of us, will do everything possible to end the scourge of racism in the United States.
The bad news is that we have a dysfunctional health care system which leaves 30 million Americans uninsured, even more underinsured and costs far more per capita than any other country on earth. We are also forced to pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.
The good news is that the American people now overwhelmingly support a Medicare for all, single payer program which guarantees health care to all Americans as a right, not a privilege, Medicare for all will also expand benefits for seniors by including dental care, audiology and optical care.
The bad news is that hundreds of thousands of young people are unable to afford to go to college, and millions more are leaving school deeply in debt.
The good news is that cities and states across the country are moving to provide free tuition at public colleges and universities, and there is widespread support for that idea. In a highly competitive global economy the American people know that we must have the best educated workforce in the world.
The bad news is that there is now a massive, well coordinated attack against women’s rights. In many states it is increasingly difficult for women to exercise their constitutional right for an abortion, or to even receive the birth control they need. Pay inequality remains prevalent, as does sexual harassment on the job.
The good news is that there is widespread opposition in this country to repealing Roe v. Wade, and the newly elected Congress is strongly pro-choice. Further, as a result of the effort of the women’s movement, in workplaces both large and small there are now new policies in place to protect a woman’s right to do her job without discrimination or harassment.
The bad news is that we have a criminal justice system in this country which is severely broken. We have more people in jail than any other country on earth – disproportionately African-American, Latino and Native American. Unbelievably, hundreds of thousands of Americans are in prison right now simply because they cannot afford cash bail.
The good news is that millions of Americans, including some conservatives, are coming together in the fight against mass incarceration, mandated minimum sentencing, the cash bail system, police brutality and the failed war on drugs. At long last, there are now district attorneys and prosecutors who want to reduce the prison population, not increase it. Americans increasingly understand that we should invest in jobs and education, not more jails and incarceration.
The bad news is that we have a demagogic president who is targeting undocumented immigrants in a racist manner for cheap political gain. This is a president who ended the DACA program and has authorized the separation of tiny children at the border from their mothers.
The good news is that the American people have consistently made clear their desire to see the restoration of DACA and comprehensive immigration reform and a path toward citizenship for the more than 10 million undocumented people in this country.
Let me conclude by thanking all of you for standing with me in the fight for justice. We should all be extremely proud that over the last few years, on issue after issue, we have made enormous progress in advancing the progressive agenda. Ideas that just a few years ago were considered “radical” or “extreme” are now supported by a strong majority of Americans.
In these very difficult times, despair is not an option. For the sake of our kids and grandchildren, the struggle must continue. Black, white, Latino, Asian-American, Native-American, male or female, gay or straight, let us proudly stand together and create the kind of country we know we can become.