Bernie Sanders delivered a speech that stuck to his core values of hope change in our politics while stressing that young people are the key to solving issues ranging from income inequality to climate change while speaking at a conference hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.
While speaking at conference on social, economic and environmental issues hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Sen. Sanders said:
Some might feel that it is hopeless to fight the economic juggernaut, that once the market economy escaped the boundaries of morality it would be impossible to bring the economy back under the dictates of morality and the common good. I am told time and time again by the rich and powerful, and the mainstream media that represent them, that we should be “practical,” that we should accept the status quo; that a truly moral economy is beyond our reach. Yet Pope Francis himself is surely the world’s greatest demonstration against such a surrender to despair and cynicism. He has opened the eyes of the world once again to the claims of mercy, justice and the possibilities of a better world. He is inspiring the world to find a new global consensus for our common home.
I see that hope and sense of possibility every day among America’s young people. Our youth are no longer satisfied with corrupt and broken politics and an economy of stark inequality and injustice. They are not satisfied with the destruction of our environment by a fossil fuel industry whose greed has put short term profits ahead of climate change and the future of our planet. They want to live in harmony with nature, not destroy it. They are calling out for a return to fairness; for an economy that defends the common good by ensuring that every person, rich or poor, has access to quality health care, nutrition and education.
As Pope Francis made powerfully clear last year in Laudato Si’, we have the technology and know-how to solve our problems – from poverty to climate change to health care to protection of biodiversity. We also have the vast wealth to do so, especially if the rich pay their way in fair taxes rather than hiding their funds in the world’s tax and secrecy havens- as the Panama Papers have shown.
The challenges facing our planet are not mainly technological or even financial, because as a world we are rich enough to increase our investments in skills, infrastructure, and technological know-how to meet our needs and to protect the planet. Our challenge is mostly a moral one, to redirect our efforts and vision to the common good. Centesimus Annus, which we celebrate and reflect on today, and Laudato Si’, are powerful, eloquent and hopeful messages of this possibility. It is up to us to learn from them, and to move boldly toward the common good in our time.
The Sanders speech did reference many of the themes of his campaign, but it is important to note that these are the core principles that Sen. Sanders believes in.
It turns out that much of the controversy surrounding the speech was unwarranted. Bernie Sanders took his message that the young people are both the political future and the world’s best hope for fighting income inequality, climate change, and social injustice to a global stage. It doesn’t hurt Sanders to be seen in an international venue to give voters a glimpse of the presidential candidate as a potential world leader.
The Sanders address was a good reminder that what the Senator from Vermont is fighting for are more than a political campaign and presidential nomination. Bernie Sanders is trying to change the United States and the world by bringing attention to income inequality. As he has fallen behind in the Democratic race, the Sanders campaign has seemed to have lost sight of some of the overall message that has made Bernie Sanders so popular.
Bernie Sanders isn’t going to change America by trading jabs with Hillary Clinton on who voted for what, or bickering over which plan is best to raise the minimum wage. Real change is going to come from the message that the American economy is unfairly slanted to benefit the very wealthy, and the only way the system will change is if the American people stand together to outnumber the billionaires and special interests.