I want to congratulate the Vermont Progressive Party for the outstanding work you are doing. My apologies for not being able to be with you today.
During the last couple of years I’ve learned a few lessons that I’d like to briefly share with you.
Think big, not small. Ideas that seemed radical and unobtainable a few years ago are now mainstream and are being implemented. A few examples:
The $15 an hour minimum wage, which seemed like an impossible dream five years ago, is now being passed in cities, counties and states all across the country. We now have over 30 co-sponsors on that bill in the Senate, far more than I would have thought possible two years ago.
The idea that, in a highly competitive global economy, public colleges and universities and post-secondary technical education should be tuition free is also gaining strength. All across the United States states and cities are moving in that direction.
Further, the understanding that health care is a right, not a privilege, is spreading rapidly. According to a number of polls a majority of the American people now agree that we have to go beyond the Affordable Care Act to a Medicare for All single payer system.
Politically, it seems to me that our current efforts must be three-fold.
First, we have got to take on Trump and right wing extremism every single day. Progressives must lead the effort against the racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and religious bigotry that Trump and his allies are pushing.
Secondly, opposing Trump is not enough. We need to bring people together around a progressive agenda which fights for a government and economy that works for all, and not just the 1 percent. The truth is that on almost every major issue facing our country, the American people support our vision. Our job is to organize people around that vision.
Third, we have got to expand upon the progress we are making in bringing working people and young people into the political process. While the mainstream media focussed on the important gubernatorial victories Tuesday in Virginia and New Jersey, an untold story is that all across the country first time candidates ran and won elections for school board, city council and state legislature. Further, in the last few months progressives have won mayoral elections in Birmingham, Alabama and Jackson, Mississippi.
Once again, thanks for what you are doing. I look forward to meeting with you all soon and working with you in the months and years ahead.