Senator Bernie Sanders fired up a crowd of thousands of supporters in Charleston, South Carolina on Saturday night, concluding his swing through the state.
Sanders called for a Medicare-for-all, single payer program, but said that his colleagues in Congress do not agree. He said that the Affordable Care Act has cut the uninsured rate across the United States. He called out the South Carolina legislature and governor for not signing on to the program, saying that more than 200,000 South Carolinians are missing out on health insurance.
In his speech to the rally, Sanders said real unemployment in this country is over 10 per cent, and that America is facing a jobs and unemployment crisis. He addressed youth unemployment, saying that unemployment for high school graduates aged between 17-20 is at 33 per cent for white children, Hispanic kids at 36 per cent, and African-American children at 51 per cent. Sanders called it an outrage, saying that this country is turning its back on an entire generation of young people.
Sanders called for a major government jobs program to put people back to work. He said that the United States’ infrastructure is crumbling, and is proposing to invest $1 trillion to put 13 million people back to work repairing it.
He said that millions of Americans work for wages that are ‘too damn low’. Sanders called the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour a starvation wage. He said the United States needs to move towards a national living wage of $15 an hour, over the next few years. people working 40 hours a week should not be living in poverty. Sanders also called for pay equity for women workers, saying there is no rational reason why women are earning 78 cents on the dollar compared to men.
Sanders touched on the fact that the United States has more people in jail than any other country on earth, and highlighted the connection between youth unemployment and young people in jails. Instead of building more jails, Sanders says will instead invest in jobs and education for young people.
Senator Sanders hit out at Republican ‘family values’, saying his sense of family values is very different to his Republican colleagues. Sanders said when he talks about family values, he talks about ending the national disgrace of not guaranteeing family and medical leave to its people.
Touching on campaign finance, Sanders said that the United States Supreme Court decided poorly in the Citizens United case. He said American democracy is meant to be about ‘one person, one vote’.
Sanders called for public financing of elections, saying that no candidate for public office should have to beg billionaires for campaign contributions.
Senator Sanders said it was time to end institutional racism in the United States, and pledges to transform and make radical changes to a criminal justice system that he described as ‘broken’.
He said that the United States has come a long way in combating institutional racism, but that it has a long way to go, citing electing an African-American as president as a huge achievement. Sanders said, however, that racism still remains a large part of society.
He said that when we are talking about racism, we are talking about Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Rekia Boyd, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray and many others, including the names of others we do not know. He said these people died unnecessarily and wrongly at the hands of police officers, or in police custody and said it must change.
Sanders said that nobody would fighter harder than him as president to fight institutional racism and fix the country’s criminal justice system. He said that local police departments are too militarized, saying that they instead should be part of the community, and look like the communities. Sanders called for a move to community policing.
Senator Sanders called for a rethink of the war on drugs. He said that he finds it remarkable that a young person smoking marijuana can get a criminal record, while the crooks on Wall Street who destroyed the United States economy have no criminal record.
He said that he will introduce a bill when congress resumes that will put an end to private prisons in America. Sanders said that corporations should not be making money by locking people up.
The independent Senator from Vermont also touched on voting reform, making public colleges and universities in America tuition-free, student debt, expanding social security, trade policy and climate change.
He concluded by saying that when the people stand together, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.
The rally in Charleston was Sanders’ last stop in his two-day swing through South Carolina. He will be in New Hampshire tomorrow, before taking a few days off the campaign trail.