Bernie Sanders, the Independent senator from Vermont, has made no secret of his intention to enter the presidential race.
On a sunny Tuesday afternoon, before a boisterous crowd on the shore of Lake Champlain, he made it official, outlining his unabashedly progressive agenda and his plan to enact bold solutions.
“Today, we begin a political revolution to transform our country economically, politically, socially, and environmentally,” Sanders said, reading from prepared remarks. “Today, we stand here and say loudly and clearly that ‘enough is enough.’ This great nation and its government belong to all of the people and not to a handful of billionaires, their SuperPACs, and their lobbyists.”
Sanders made clear that income inequality, unemployment, and restoring the middle class would be the core themes of his campaign, calling the wealth gap “the great political issue of our time.”
“The agenda begins with jobs, jobs, and more jobs,” he said.
He also discussed the “planetary crisis” of climate change, and said that resolute action was needed to reduce use of fossil fuels in order to prevent extreme weather, droughts, and ocean acidification.
The U.S., he said, must lead the world in reversing climate change by widely adopting clean energy.
Sanders reiterated that he intended to run a clean campaign, devoid of negative advertisements, needless drama, and ad hominem attacks. “My campaign will not be driven by political gossip or reckless personal attacks,” he said.
Sanders reserved his most passionate tone for his criticism of the “billionaire class,” their outsized influence in Washington, and their neglect of their duties to their country. Speaking directly to the billionaire class, Sanders said: “Your greed has got to end!”
He lamented the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, characterizing it as the highest court taking the position that it was not “good enough” for corporations to own the economy — they had to own the government as well.
He blasted billionaires for taking advantage of “huge tax breaks while children in this country go hungry,” for sending jobs overseas, and hiding their wealth in offshore tax shelters while there were unmet needs at home.
“Brothers and sisters,” he said. “now is not the time for thinking small.”
As he concluded his speech, Pete Seeger’s version of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” began to play.
Screenshot via MSNBC. Video feed via BernieSanders.com
This post has been updated.