Bernie Sanders is on a Southern states tour talking to people in order to find out what they think of important issues such as Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and Obamacare. His ultimate goal being to develop a 50 state strategy, something the Democrats do not seem to be interested in doing. For too long they have written southern states off as a lost cause where they are unlikely to win rather than trying to find out what it is that drives them to so often vote against their own interests.
Bernie spoke to Ed Schultz from Columbia, South Carolina about what he is finding out talking to people in the deep south telling him,
“You’ve got a lot of great people. I’ve been meeting with trade unionists, Independents, Progressive Democrats, and they are tired of being abandoned by the national Democratic Party, they want some help and they believe that with some help they can start winning in these conservative states.”
He goes on to say,
“These are low income states and what concerns me is that you have many white working class people who are voting against their own best interests. These are guys getting hung up on gay marriage issues, they’re getting hung up on abortion issues and it’s time that we started focusing on the economic issues that bring us together.”
He told Ed that to reach these people who are working for low wages, have no health care coverage and who cannot afford to sent their children to college the Democrats have to show them that they are willing to take on Wall Street and the big money people who have, in effect overthrown our government. He thinks that if this is the message Democrats can once more win elections in the south.
Ed pointed out that nine of the Republicans on the budget reconciliation committee with him are people who were willing to allow the country to go into default and asked him how tough a fight it was going to be to protect programs like Social Security and Medicare which they see as “entitlement” programs rather than earned benefits.
“Well the way you work with them is you make the case that maybe, just maybe, they might want to be listening to what ordinary Americans are saying in overwhelming numbers and not listening to the Koch brothers and other billionaires.”
Sen. Sanders continues,
“What the American people are saying is very clear, they are saying in poll after poll do not cut Social Security. Do not cut Medicare, do not cut Medicaid, what they are saying is, in fact, the most important issue facing the American people is not the deficit, which is important, but not the most important. The most important issue is the need to create millions of jobs, so we deal with this frightfully high unemployment that we’re seeing, the most important issue also is raising the minimum wage so we don’t have millions of working people not surviving.”
He suggests that the way to deal with the deficit is to take a long hard look at defense spending. We spend as much if not more as the rest of the world combined on the military. No one wants a weak and ineffective military but as the right is so fond of pointing out, it is not necessarily the amount spent but the quality of that spending that determines a successful outcome.
He then moves on to another subject near and dear to the hearts of progressives everywhere saying, “We now have one out of four major corporations not paying a nickle in federal income taxes, I think we have to take a hard look at that as well.”
You can watch the entire conversation in the video below.