AGENDA PROJECT ACTION FUND ENDORSES BERNIE SANDERS POLITICAL REVOLUTION
The results are in! We received a huge (yuge!) response from Agenda Project supporters for our 2016 Democratic Primary Endorsement Poll and the winner, with 97% of the vote, is Senator Bernie Sanders.
So it is with great pleasure and tremendous pride that we formally announce our endorsement of Senator Bernie Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination.
IT TAKES A REVOLUTION
As Senator Sanders has said again and again in his stump speeches, this is not just about electing a president…it is about engaging millions of Americans in our political process and keeping them engaged. It is about building a powerful movement that will fight for our shared, progressive American values.
Today, we stand with Bernie Sanders in his quest for the Democratic nomination. He has ignited a fire in this country that we are honored, humbled to stoke and grow until that warm light becomes a beacon of hope - not just for the every citizen in this country, but for people around the world.
Our very first campaign six years ago was F*ck Tea, a wholesale rejection of the bigotry, misogyny and sociopathy of the Tea Party. From that day forward, we have NEVER shied away from a fight. Hate Begets Hate, Granny Off the Cliff, You Deserve to Know, My Country, My Choice, Republican Cuts Kill, Stop the Greedy Clown - on every issue from social security to minimum wage, from Muslim bigotry to corruption on Wall Street, we have aggressively fought to ensure our public policies work for all of our nation’s citizens, not just the wealthy few.
The truth is that PROGRESS is the real American party.
Bernie Sanders shares our values, fights for our values and is leading a revolution that can win for our values.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM
Bernie Sanders is waging an all out war against the establishment’s view of how campaigns should be funded. Bernie doesn’t have a Super PAC and doesn’t want a Super PAC. When he announced his candidacy the pundits cited this as an extreme disadvantage. Who could anyone hope to compete in the money race without support from Wall Street interests, millionaires and billionaires, and corporate lobbyists?
Those questions were quickly silenced when the Sanders campaign began posting its fundraising figures. As of writing this, Bernie Sanders has raised over 70 million dollars since he announced his candidacy. In January he raised 20 million and in February that number skyrocketed to 40 million — outpacing both Hillary Clinton and every single Republican candidate in those months. The average donation? 27 dollars. This is truly a grassroots revolution, democracy powered by the people. When elected, big money lobbyists will have no favors to call in, the only people Bernie will be beholden to are the over 1.5 million individuals who have made over 5 million individual contributions to his campaign (more than any other candidate in history at this point).
Not only is his fundraising strategy completely revolutionizing the way we think of modern political campaigns, his platform which calls for overturning Citizens United, automatic voter registration, making Election Day a national holiday, and ultimately moving towards public funding of elections would revitalize American democracy and greatly diminish the influence of special interests. We need a president who represents the American people, not big corporations.
WALL STREET REFORM
One of the Agenda Project Action Fund’s earliest campaigns centered around banking and Wall Street reform. Working with dozens of economic experts, citizen-minded financiers and former Administration officials, we criticized the regulations put forth by Congress as fundamentally flawed. They "wouldn’t have solved the last crisis and they won’t prevent the next one” we said in a letter signed by dozens of top economic minds including Jim Chanos (Kynikos Associates), Robert Reich (former US Labor Secretary), and Dean Baker (Center for Economic and Policy Research) to call upon the government to go further in regulating Wall Street and other financial institutions.
Bernie Sanders has made these policies a priority for his campaign. From the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall to taxing Wall Street speculation to fund free tuition to public colleges and universities to restricting Wall Street executive bonuses, he is in lock step with the reforms we called for six years ago. These important reforms would stabilize our economy and prevent future meltdowns like the one in 2008. These reforms are not only recommended, they are necessary for the future prosperity of the American economy. Notably, Bernie Sanders will have no large financial sector backers calling in favors after his election.
In 2010, when Representative (now Speaker) Paul Ryan was pushing a budget that would privatize Medicare and turn it into a voucher system, we released one of our most famous ads, Granny Off the Cliff. In the ad we posed the question: Is America Beautiful Without Medicare?
The answer to that question is a resounding “NO.” Senator Sanders agrees with us. Not only has he been a champion for defending our Medicare system throughout his entire career, he seeks to expand this system to all Americans under a Medicare for All system. This is a goal that we as a nation should and must aspire to. While the Affordable Care Act has made excellent progress in many areas, including allowing children to remain on their parents health care plans until the age of 26, getting rid of preexisting conditions, expanding Medicaid, and providing insurance to millions of Americans who were previously without…we have to go further.
30 million Americans are still without coverage, prices of pharmaceutical drugs are skyrocketing, and too many are still paying outrageous premiums and deductibles. A universal, single-payer model is the solution to these problems. It would extend health care coverage to all of our citizens as a right and give the government far more price negotiating power with pharmaceutical companies and treatment providers. The cherry on top? Most Americans will see their annual costs for health care reduced by thousands of dollars. It’s time to end the embarrassment of being the only major developed nation who does not provide universal health care to all and end the era of Americans paying three times more per capita for their care than other countries.
STUDENT LOAN DEBT
Just last year, we launched a campaign targeting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker for his devastating cuts to the state’s higher education programs. In “Hold Your Breath” — we graphically illustrated the way too many Americans feel: that they are drowning in student loan debt and no matter how much they struggle they can’t get ahead.
Bernie Sanders has a progressive plan to address the issues facing Americans who have graduated from college with crushing debt and for those who have yet to pursue a higher education. Not only does he want to make public colleges and universities tuition free by imposing a tax on Wall Street speculation in order to provide all Americans, regardless of income, the opportunity to pursue higher education, he has plans to tackle the currently insane levels of interest being levied on outstanding student loans. He would cut rates for new student loans in half, from 4.29% to 2.37%, his plan would allow individuals currently holding student loans to refinance at the lowest rate possible. By unburdening Americans from crushing debt, we will stimulate economic growth by enabling these individuals to begin to make investments in their future including being able to start families, purchase homes and cars (something millennials have been putting off en-masse), and put the money back into the economy by increasing their ability to spend on other goods instead of padding the pockets of lending institutions. To compete in the 21st century economy, we need to pursue these aggressive policies to ensure we have the best educated workforce in the world and one that isn’t forced to pay back student loan debt for decades after graduation.
As the Fight for $15 movement was developing and hundreds of thousands of workers around the country began organizing for a living wage, we released an ad entitled “Stop the Greedy Clown.” On the eve of one of the biggest fast food strikes in history, the Agenda Project Action Fund released this ad, a behind-the-scenes look at Ronald McDonald working Republican politicians and trading campaign contributions for bad policy. We were outraged at by the absurd reality that the CEO of McDonald's was making $9,247 an hour while the people who actually cook the food and serve the customers lived in poverty. The campaign included a media component and the circulation of the “Low Pay Is Not OK” petition which called for $15 an hour wages and the ability to form a union without intimidation.
Issues surrounding the wages of American workers and protecting their right to organize and collectively margin are also at the heart of the Sanders campaign. Not only has Bernie dedicated so much of his career to fighting for workers’ rights, often by joining his fellow Americans right on the picket lines to protest mistreatment of workers or by visiting and exposing worker exploitation seen in places such as Immokalee, Florida, he has also placed enormous emphasis on protecting and expanding these rights throughout his presidential campaign and introduced legislation in the Senate dealing directly with the minimum wage and the ability of workers to form unions.
“I’ve been pleased to march and struggle with all workers in this country who are fighting for $15 an hour and a union,” Sanders told the crowd at one of his rallies, “We are the wealthiest country in the history of the world, people should not have to work for starvation wages.”
We couldn’t agree more.
YOU SAY YOU WANT A REVOLUTION?
These, among many issues, are why we are backing Bernie Sanders’ political revolution. But, as he says again and again in his stump speeches, this is not just about electing a president…it is about engaging millions of Americans in our political process and keeping them engaged. It is about building a powerful movement that will fight for our shared, progressive American values.
Today, we stand with Bernie Sanders in his quest for the Democratic nomination. Win or lose, he has ignited a fire in this country and built the foundations for a political powerhouse. No matter the result, we are dedicated to continuing the work of the political revolution long after the 2016 presidential race has been committed to history books. Now is not the time to resign ourselves to the sidelines, now is the time to stand up and fight back.
Enough is enough.