Bernie Sanders University of Oklahoma

Bernie Speaks at the University of Oklahoma, 9/22/19 – #Transcripts2020

As part of our #Transcripts2020 project, we are pleased to release the transcript of Bernie Sanders Speech at University of Oklahoma on 9/22/19. An editable version is available here. All transcripts of this series are available here.


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00:02 Speaker 1: Norman.

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00:08 S1: Thank you very much for being out today. And let me thank Mayor Clark for welcoming us to Norman. And let me thank all of you for coming out. This is a great, great turn out. We appreciate it.

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00:31 S1: I think I’m gonna be saying a few things here in Oklahoma that you don’t usually hear in Oklahoma. But maybe it’s time you did hear it in Oklahoma. And let me begin by quoting one of the great leaders of the 20th century, Nelson Mandela. And Nelson Mandela said, “It always seems impossible until it is done.”

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01:15 S1: “It always seems impossible until it is done.” You all know what that means? What it means is that every day, the establishment and the media and everybody tells you that you can’t accomplish big things, that you gotta think really, really small. And basically, they also tell you that you’re powerless. You don’t have any power. Why do you wanna get involved in the political process? The deck is stacked against working people. You got nothing. Go home. Go to sleep. Forget about it. They will continue to control this country and the world. Well, I’m here to tell you something different.

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02:03 S1: I’m here to tell you that you have enormous power if you are prepared to use that power. Because at the end of the day, the 1% has unlimited amounts of money, has enormous control over the media. They control the economy. But at the end of the day, the 1% is 1%. And we are 99%.

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02:43 S1: And I don’t have a PhD in mathematics, but I do know that 99% is a hell of a bigger number than 1%.: And the other thing that I wanna say, and I say this to the young people, people like myself.

[laughter]

03:02 S1: 19, 20, 25. We young people. And what I wanna say to you very sincerely is that you are the most progressive generation, young generation in the history of this country.

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03:24 S1: You are a generation that has fought against racism.

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03:30 S1: You have a fought against sexism.

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03:34 S1: You have for against homophobia.

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03:38 S1: You are fought against Xenophobia.

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03:42 S1: And you have fought against religious bigotry.

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03:47 S1: All of the things that Donald Trump is supporting. But while your generation is the most progressive young generation probably in American history, the bad news is you do not vote in the kind of numbers you should be voting in. And I know that a lot of your friends when they ask you what you did this afternoon, you said you went to a Bernie Sanders rally. They’ll kinda look at you quizzically and they said, “Why would you possibly do that?” That’s right.

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04:36 S1: And you look them in the eye and you say you here because you’re sick and tired of people complaining about low wages. You’re sick and tired about people complaining about the high cost of college and college debt. You’re tired of people talking about climate change. You are prepared, and you want them to be prepared to have the courage to stand up to powerful special interest and make the kinds of changes this country desperately needs. You all know who Woody Guthrie is.

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05:21 S1: All right. Woody Guthrie is one of the great song writers in recent history, born here in Oklahoma. And he said something. He wrote a song which basically said, “Which side are you on?” And what he was talking about is, “Are you on the side of working people were struggling for dignity, or are you on the side of the wealthy and the powerful?” And we are here to say to Woody, “Woody, we are on the side of the working class of this country.”

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06:12 S1: And let me be very blunt with you and tell you what politicians don’t tell you ’cause I think every now and then it’s important that we tell the truth, every now and then. I don’t wanna overstate it. And here is the truth, the truth you’re not gonna see on television, you’re not gonna hear in the radio, you’re not gonna hear in the United States Congress. And that you live in a political system today that is corrupt. It is corrupt because you have billionaires who have unlimited amounts of money, contributing hundreds of millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars to the candidates who represent their greedy interests.

07:05 S1: So the system is about that you get one vote, and that’s great, and you get a vote and that’s great. But they got the money and they will buy the ads on television, they will give massive amounts of campaign, contributions they will thought Super PACS. That is a corrupt political system. We have people who fought and died for American democracy and as president I intend to make sure that we have a real democracy one person, one vote. And we’re gonna end this disastrous Citizen’s United, Supreme Court decision, we’re gonna move to public funding of elections. And I want all of you. And I mean this very seriously. I want you to be thinking about running for office. You can do it. Whether it’s school board whether it’s city council whatever it may be, you can do it. Listen I am a member of the United States Senate. And if you think you don’t know enough for to run for local office, trust me I know the United States Senate. You do know enough. But you gotta the confidence. You can’t allow people to intimidate you, not whether you’re running for office or anything else. If you got the heart if you got respect for other people, if you believe in justice, stand up and struggle with us and give some thought to running for office.

[applause]

08:58 S1: Now, four years ago. I wanna tell you how change takes place. Change never takes place from the top on down, you all know that. Change always takes place from the bottom on up, study your history, that is the history of the labor movement. It is the history of the Civil Rights Movement. It is the history of the Women’s Movement, it is the history of the gay movement, it is the history of the environmental movement, and all of you know that as part of that change, people all over the world, not just in the United States all over the world took to the streets a few days ago saying they demand action, for climate change It’s right, right? Okay we’re gonna get to that in one minute. But here is how change always takes place, see politicians and the ruling elite they dont want you to be involved in anything because things are going pretty good, right now. Richer getting much, richer. We have a massive level of income and wealth inequality. And I want you all to hear this, ’cause it’s not talked about in Congress, it’s not talked about in the media, you got three people in America who own more wealth than the bottom half of American people.

10:44 S1: We need a little bit of outrage on that. You got the top one percent owning more wealth than the bottom 92% here in Oklahoma and in Vermont and all over this country. You’ve got people working two or three jobs trying to feed their families at inadequate wages and 49% 49% of all new income goes to the top one present. Now, the big money interest in this country don’t want us to discuss income and wealth inequality. We will not only discuss income and wealth inequality, but when I am president, we’re gonna deal with income and wealth inequality. Trump and his friends gave over a trillion dollars in tax breaks to the 1%, and large profitable corporations. You have the absurd situation that today companies like Amazon, anybody know how much Amazon paid in taxes, last year? That’s right. See you got a company and make 10 billion bucks paid zero in profits trust me we’re gonna end that absurdity when we are in the White House.

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12:19 S1: Tell you what else we’re gonna do, we’re gonna make it clear that starvation wages in America are not acceptable four years ago when I came here, I said that if you work 40 hours a week, you shouldn’t be living in poverty. We’ve gotta raise that minimal wage to at least 15 bucks an hour. And people said Bernie, you’re crazy, your extreme can’t be done. In the last four years, seven states and the United States Congress have raised the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour. If the people want it to be done and they do it will be done, and together we’re gonna raise the minimum wage in this country to a living wage, 15 bucks an hour. And we are also going to establish equal pay for equal work. We’re gonna end the absurdity of women making 80 cents on the dollar compared to men. And we are going to make it easier for workers to join unions that’s what we’re gonna do.

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13:49 S1: And there’s another issue I talked about four years ago, whatever they’ll say Bernie, you’re crazy. Can’t be done. What I said is “Look in the wealthiest country in the history of the world. We’ve gotta rethink what free public education is about. It’s no longer good enough to go from K through 12 We’ve got to make public colleges and universities tuition free. And all over this country people started saying. “Yeah, that makes sense”. Why does Germany have free college education why does Scandinavia? How are our young people gonna go out and get the jobs that they need and make it into the middle class unless they have a good education, and why don’t we make sure that everybody has that opportunity regardless of the income of their families.

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14:50 S1: And you know what’s happened over the last four years? State after state, county after county is moving in that direction. In fact, just the other day state of New Mexico, said they will make their public colleges and universities tuition free. Point is that when you stand up and fight for something, when you make the give the establishment and offer they cannot refuse when you demand justice, whether it’s education or the economy or whatever, you will win. And our job now is to make public colleges and universities tuition free and free expand Pell Grants and work study programs so that every person in this country, regardless of income has the opportunity to go to college or to a trade school they want so they can make it into the middle class. And I’ll tell you what else we’re gonna do. We’re gonna cancel all student debt in America.

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16:20 S1: Question, question, How many of you are dealing with students that are worried about… There you go alright. So here is what I want you to think about, Okay, this is what this is what I want you to think about. Get it in your heads.11 years ago against my vote, the United States Congress bailed out the crooks on Wall Street who destroyed our economy. They gave them 700 billion out of the treasury and trillions of dollars of zero-interest loans. They sure are couple of years ago Trump and his friends gave over a trillion dollars in tax breaks to the 1% and large corporations. So what I want you to think about and to understand if we can give tax breaks to billionaires if we can be out the crooks on Wall Street we most certainly can cancel all student debt. And we pay for that. We pay for that through a tax a modest tax, I would say on Wall Street speculation.

17:38 S1: We bailed them out, 11 years ago. It is their time to help the working people of this country today. And let me say a word on an issue that I’ve been working on for many, many years and I think we’re gonna have some major success. I want you all to know that the United States of America is the only major country on Earth, not to guarantee healthcare to all people as a human right. And together we’re gonna end that absurdity.

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18:25 S1: Right now as a nation we are spending twice as much per person on healthcare as do the people of any other industrialized nation, about $11,000 a year per person. And yet for all of that money this is what you get: 87 million uninsured or under-insured, 30,000 Americans dying every single year because they don’t get to a doctor when they should, and you’re looking at 500,000 people a year going bankrupt because of medical bills. Can you imagine the vulgarity of a system in which people go bankrupt for what? They came down with cancer or heart disease. We are gonna end that cruelty. Last year, the healthcare industry made a $100 billion in profit. And we are gonna create a healthcare system which provides quality care for all, not 100 billion in profits for the healthcare industry. And I want all of you to know we are gonna take on the greed and the price fixing of the pharmaceutical industry. This is an industry that is ripping off the American people, charging us by far the highest prices in the world. One out of five Americans cannot afford to fill the prescriptions their doctors prescribe. That is absurd. Under our Medicare for all program not only will everybody have freedom of choice with regard to the doctor, hospital you want to go to, but nobody in America will pay more than $200 a year for the prescription drugs that they need.

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20:42 S1: And let me say a word on another issue of enormous consequence. And yes I do know I am in Oklahoma but we got to deal with this issue. And that is we have a president who thinks that climate change is a hoax. Well, I happen to believe that Donald Trump is a hoax. And I think, I think we need a president who actually believes in science. But the scientists are telling us, is not only that climate change is real, not only it is already causing devastating problems in our country and around the world… Okay, wait a minute, we need a medic, medic. Take a break. We got a medic here, officer? Okay.

[pause]

22:22 S1: [22:22] ____ and it’s humid outside. And make sure, if you can get some water into you. And if you’re feeling woozy sit down or… Some chairs over here.

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23:01 S1: If anybody is feeling a little woozy there’s some chairs over here. Let me thank the officers for their help with that. What I was saying is that climate change is very, very real. And what we are seeing now all over the world, as you know, are rising sea levels, you’re seeing incredible floods. We’re seeing it right in front of our eyes. You all see what’s going on in Texas, unprecedented rain. You saw what happened in Bahamas, an incredible extreme weather disturbance, unprecedented storm velocities. You saw what happened to Puerto Rico a couple of years ago. Right now there’s forest fires raging in Bolivia, heat waves this summer in Europe, India, Pakistan, Brazil. We’re seeing a global crisis and here is what the scientists are telling us. The scientists are telling us that we have 11 years in order to get our act together to make certain that there are not irreparable damages done to our planet, damages that cannot be repaired. So we are facing a global crisis. And I am very proud to tell you, I really am, that I have listened to the scientists and we have introduced a climate change plan which is the boldest plan ever introduced by any presidential candidate in the history of this country.

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24:44 S1: And I wanna say to the workers in the fossil fuel industry I am perhaps the most, the strongest pro-worker member of the United States Congress I have 100% lifetime voting record for unions and for workers. So I am not against the workers in the oil industry or in the coal industry or the gas industry. I am against and will combat climate change. And what we have built in to our plan, which is a very expansive plan among many other things, we have put in hundreds of billions of dollars to protect those workers in the fossil fuel industry who might lose their jobs.

25:37 S1: And I’m talking about the most generous protections ever offered. We’re talking about five years of salary, we’re talking about health care, we’re talking about job training. So I wanna say to those workers, we understand that you’re working hard to put food on the table for your families, you are not our enemy. But together we must come to grips with the global crisis of climate change. And the other thing that I wanna say is, as you all know, climate change is not an American issue, it is a global issue. We can’t do it alone. If we did everything magically tomorrow it still wouldn’t matter enough because we need the entire planet to work together. So here is my dream and what I will attempt to accomplish as President of the United States, and that is to tell the world in this unprecedentedly dangerous moment that instead of spending a trillion and a half dollars on weapons of destruction designed to kill each other how about pooling our resources and combating our common enemy, which is climate change.

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27:04 S1: And I wanna say a word about something that is, I feel very passionate about and that is the need to reform a broken and racist criminal justice system. So how do I look in this hat? You like it? I wonder what… I’m asking should I wear it in Texas? Okay. But we got a criminal justice system. And I want you to just to think about this again. Think outside of the box. We have more people in jail than any other country on Earth. You all know that? We’ve got over two million people in jail disproportionately African-American, Latino and Native American. My job as President of the United States will be to invest in our young people, in jobs and education, not build more jails and have more incarceration. We under our Criminal Justice Plan will end all private prisons and detention centers in America. And we’re also going to end the so-called War on Drugs. Now, let me ask you one question, I’ve been asking this kind of question around the country. I’ve been amazed by the answers I got, I don’t know really how it is in Oklahoma, but here’s my question. How many of you know somebody who has been arrested for possession of marijuana? Wow that’s unbelievable, and that is the kind of response we’re hearing all over the country.

29:11 S1: Now the good news is, four years ago, I talked about the need to legalize marijuana. And because of the ethics of people all over this country, you know what’s happening, state after state is moving to either decriminalize or legalize Marijuana. And I wanna take it a step further because many people who were arrested for possession of marijuana, they have criminal records and sometimes those records prevent them from getting the jobs or the other opportunities they should be getting. And that is why we’re gonna expunge the records of anybody arrested for marijuana.

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30:09 S1: There’s another issue that we have got to address. We got a president, and I say this with no joy in my heart, a president who is a racist and a sexist and a xenophobe and a homophobe and a religious bigot, that’s what he is. And he thinks he is gonna win re-election, this is his plan, it is not complicated. He thinks he’s gonna win re-election by dividing the American people up based on the color of our skin, based on where we were born or our religion or whatever. Well, Mr. Trump we got some bad news for you that ain’t gonna happen. And in terms of immigration, we are gonna stop the racism and the demonization of undocumented people. We are gonna pass comprehensive immigration reform and a path towards citizenship. On my first day in office through executive order, we are gonna restore legal status to the 1.8 million young people in the DACA program.

31:33 S1: And we are going to develop a humane border policy which does not snatch babies from the arms of their mothers. Yesterday I was in Iowa and I talked to a woman and she told me she is from El Salvador. And she told me that when she was under detention she was pregnant, I think eight months pregnant, she was put in a room with 15 other pregnant women and it was so crowded that women had to take turns lying on the ground in order to sleep. That is not the way you treat a pregnant woman, that is not the way you treat any human being. So we will develop an immigration system that is non-racist and one that we are proud of.

32:31 S1: And let me say a couple of other issues that might be a little bit sensitive here in Oklahoma. And that is… I am horrified and I know that many of you are horrified when we turn on the TV, and we hear about another mass shooting. And we are pained to know that millions of children go to school and they are frightened, they are frightened of what may happen when they’re in school. How awful is that? Now, what the American people want and that is true, that is true in rural areas, like Vermont and I suspect Oklahoma, and it is true in urban areas and what the American people want is common sense gun safety legislation. So let me just tell you that this president will not be intimidated by the NRA. We will do what the American people want, expand background checks, end the gun show loophole. Make it impossible for people to legally buy guns and then sell them to criminals, and we will ban the sale and distribution of assault weapons in this country.

[applause]

34:09 S1: And let me say something… Let me say something to the men in the audience. And that is right now, all over this country, there is a massive attack against women’s rights. In state after state, there are efforts to take away what I believe is a woman’s constitutional right to control her own body. And today I am asking the men, stand with the women. It is a woman and not the government who has the right to make those most personal decisions.

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35:08 S1: Let me conclude by just saying this. This is an unprecedented moment in American history because we have a president who in my view is the most dangerous president in the modern history of this country. He is a president who is a pathological liar, who does not respect the Constitution. And I think as we are already seeing and we will see more of, he will merge government agencies with his campaign in order to try to win. But on top of Trump, we have crisis after crisis after crisis. And what this campaign’s message is about, it’s called us not me because I understand that no president, not Bernie Sanders or anybody else, can do it alone. The only way we stand up to the greed and corruption of the corporate elite, and I’m talking about Wall Street, I’m talking about the insurance companies and the drug companies and the fossil fuel industry. I’m talking about the military industrial complex and the prison industrial complex. I’m talking about the whole damn 1%.

36:42 S1: So what our campaign is about and it is unique, it is unique now, and is maybe unique in American history. I’m asking for your help not only to win the Oklahoma primary. I’m asking, not only for your help to win the Democratic nomination. I’m here asking not only for your help to defeat Donald Trump. What I am asking from you also, this is hard stuff, it ain’t easy stuff, but the future of the country and the planet depends upon it. I am asking your help to work with me to transform this country, to transform our economy and create a government that works for all of us not just the 1%.

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37:56 S1: It ain’t Bernie it’s you. I know what my job is as a candidate, I know what my job will be as president, but I cannot accomplish the things that need to be accomplished unless you and millions of other people are prepared to stand up for economic justice, for social justice, for racial justice, for environmental justice. So today I am here to ask you to join the justice campaign. Let’s stand up. Let’s fight back. Let’s transform this country. Thank you all very much.

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