Sanders to Liberty Students: Find Common Ground in Fighting Income Inequality

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at Liberty University, 2015.09.14. Screen cap from YouTube.
Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at Liberty University, 2015.09.14. Screen cap from YouTube.

Subtitle: Best Darn Speech of 2016.

Jerry Falwell, Jr., required 12,000 Liberty University students to listen to Senator Bernie Sanders make a speech today. A conservative fundagelical university that would yield its floor to a Jewish democratic socialist who could be President deserves more respect than I would initially deign to grant anything created by Jerry Falwell, Sr.

Senator Sanders also deserves respect for thanking his hosts and plowing straight into his disagreements with them:

And let me start off by acknowledging what I think all of you already know. And that is the views that many here at Liberty University have and I, on a number of important issues, are very, very different. I believe in women’s rights and the right of a woman to control her own body.

I believe in gay rights and gay marriage [Senator, Bernie Sanders, address to Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia, 2015.09.14].

Having opened with two statements that can shut down conversation in some company, Senator Sanders then develops two major theses:

  1. Even amidst radical disagreement, we must find common ground for civil discourse.
  2. We can find that common ground in practicing the Golden Rule rather than submitting to the rule of gold.

Watch Senator Sanders develop these ideas in the video from Washington Post, starting around 48:00, ending at 1:15:50, just about 28 minutes totalWatch Senator Sanders deliver this speech with unflinching sternness, even anger—not anger at the 12,000 citizens before him whom someone failing to heed Sanders’s first thesis would dismiss as enemies, but anger at the injustice described in his thesis. Watch Senator Sanders embody his first thesis—using the religious and moral language of his audience—and call on 12,000 of the least likely Sanders voters in America to embrace his second thesis and join him in fighting economic inequality.

Watch Senator Sanders give what may be the most important speech made by any Presidential candidate this year:

The highlights—good grief! The whole speech is highlights.

Those are my views, and it is no secret. But I came here today, because I believe from the bottom of my heart that it is vitally important for those of us who hold different views to be able to engage in a civil discourse.

Too often in our country — and I think both sides bear responsibility for us — there is too much shouting at each other. There is too much making fun of each other [Sanders, 2015.09.14].

Blogs. Comments. Facebook. Feel the Bern.

Carry on, Senator Sanders:

…[I]t is easy to go out and talk to people who agree with you. I was in Greensboro, North Carolina, just last night. All right. We had 9,000 people out. Mostly they agreed with me. Tonight, we’re going to be in Manassas, and have thousands out and they agree with me. That’s not hard to do. That’s what politicians by and large do.

We go out and we talk to people who agree with us.

But it is harder, but not less important, for us to try and communicate with those who do not agree with us on every issue.

And it is important to see where if possible, and I do believe it is possible, we can find common ground [Sanders, 2015.09.14].

At that point right there, every Independent, every disaffected voter in the country, should vote for Sanders.

For those not yet decided, Sanders invokes Matthew 7:12, the Golden Rule. He invokes Amos 5:24, “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream.” And then he goes to town on the injustice of economic inequality:

We are living in a time — and I warn all of you if you would, put this in the context of the Bible, not me, in the context of the Bible — we are living in a time where a handful of people have wealth beyond comprehension. And I’m talking about tens of billions of dollars, enough to support their families for thousands of years. With huge yachts, and jet planes and tens of billions. More money than they would ever know what to do with.

But at that very same moment, there are millions of people in our country, let alone the rest of the world, who are struggling to feed their families. They are struggling to put a roof over their heads, and some of them are sleeping out on the streets. They are struggling to find money in order to go to a doctor when they are sick.

Now, when we talk about morality, and when we talk about justice, we have to, in my view, understand that there is no justice when so few have so much and so many have so little [Sanders, 2015.09.14].

Sanders appeals to intellect and feeling, morality and patriotism:

Now you have got to think about it. You have to think about it and you have to feel it in your guts. Are you content? Do you think it’s moral when 20 percent of the children in this country, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, are living in poverty? Do you think it is acceptable that 40 percent of African American children are living in poverty?

In my view, there is no justice, and morality suffers when in our wealthy country, millions of children go to bed hungry. That is not morality and that is not in my view … what America should be about [Sanders, 2015.09.14].

Sanders decries the concentration of wealth at the top amidst widespread poverty. He busts our chops for being the only developed country that doesn’t guarantee health care as a right. He then looks these children of family values in the eye and makes the moral case for paid family leave:

You know, there is a lot of talk in this country from politicians about family values. You have all heard that. Well, let me tell you about a family value.

In my view, there is no justice when low income and working class mothers are forced to separate from their babies one or two weeks after birth and go back to work because they need the money that their jobs provide. Now I know everybody here — we all are, maybe in different ways, but all of us believe in family values.

Jane and I have four kids. We have seven beautiful grandchildren. We believe in family values. But it is not a family value when all of you know that the most important moments and time of a human being’s life is the first weeks and months after that baby is born. That is the moment when mothers bonds with the baby; gets to love and know her baby — dad is there as well. That is what a family is about. And those of you — at least those of you who are parents — more parents back here than there I suspect. You know what an unforgettable moment that is. What an important moment that is. And I want you to think, whether you believe it is a family value, that the United States of America is the only — only — major country on earth that does not provide paid family and medical leave.

Now in English, what that means is that all over the world when a woman has her baby she is guaranteed the right because society understands how important that moment is. She is guaranteed the right to stay home and get income in order to nurture her baby. And that is why I believe when we talk about family values that the United States government must provide at least 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave [Sanders, 2015.09.14].

And then he goes for the Pope. Bernie Sanders walks into the biggest Protestant evangelical university in America and tells the student body to listen to Pope Francis:

I agree with Pope Francis when he says, and I quote, “The current financial crisis originated in a profound human crisis, the denial of the primacy of the human person,” and this is what he writes: “We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose,” end of quote.

And the pope also writes, quote, “There is a need for financial reform along ethical lines that would produce in its turn an economic reform to benefit everyone. Money has to serve, not to rule,” end of quote.

Now those are pretty profound words, which I hope we will all think about. In the pope’s view, and I agree with him, we are living in a nation and in a world, and the Bible speaks to this issue, in a nation and in a world which worships not love of brothers and sisters, not love of the poor and the sick, but worships the acquisition of money and great wealth. I do not believe that is the country we should be living in.

Money and wealth should serve the people. The people should not have to serve money and wealth [Sanders, 2015.09.14].

As I said, it’s all highlights. It’s just that good of a speech, right down to concluding with concise summaries of thesis #1:

Throughout human history, there has been endless discussion. It is part of who we are as human beings, people who think and ask questions, endless discussion and debate about the meaning of justice and about the meaning of morality. And I know that here at Liberty University, those are the kinds of discussions you have every day, and those are the kinds of discussions you should be having and the kinds of discussions we should be having all over America [Sanders, 2015.09.14].

…and thesis #2:

I would hope, and I conclude with this thought, I would hope very much that as part of that discussion and part of that learning process, some of you will conclude that if we are honest in striving to be a moral and just society, it is imperative that we have the courage to stand with the poor, to stand with working people and when necessary, take on very powerful and wealthy people whose greed, in my view, is doing this country enormous harm [Sanders, 2015.09.14].

Heck of a speech! Heck of a speech!

Liberty University deserves our respect for inviting Senator Bernie Sanders to speak to their students. Senator Sanders deserves our respect and our attention for taking the stage in the lions’ den and speaking about the common ground all Americans should find in fighting economic injustice. This speech is the conversation our nation needs. It is the most important speech of the campaign so far, because of what Sanders says, how he says it, and where he says it.


50 Responses to Sanders to Liberty Students: Find Common Ground in Fighting Income Inequality

  1. Deb Geelsdottir

    I am in love with and I want to marry Bernie and have his children!

    These are the hopes and dreams of my heart. These are the center, the core, the alpha and the omega of Jesus’ ministry. This is what he continued to say and do, over and over and over again.

    I applaud Bernie Sanders’ courage in saying what he believes rather than trying to fake agreement with the listeners. Think of t-Rump’s pandering blather about loving the Bible, though he knows no verses. Sanders really does ‘tell it like it is.’

    This is the first time I’ve heard a politician articulate the words of my heart so well. As I said, true romance begins.

  2. Apparently it’s time I open up a dating service. :-*

  3. Just when I think I couldn’t like or love him more, he continues to amaze me. He has picked up a picket sign and marched with union laborers, he goes into the deep red South and LU and plants seeds and reaches out to find common ground with all.

    He is the only candidate out of the bunch I trust. The only one not bought and paid for. I do pray he is our next President.

  4. Feel the Bern.

  5. mike from iowa

    Yabut,Cory,they are the enemy in thought and deed. They are manipulated and brainwashed by enemies of American democracy-the religious right. They want a theocracy and they want it now.

  6. It was impressive. I must caution folks on The Bern. He is not going to win a general election, even against a dolt like Trump. He seems to be rising because Clinton is sinking from her hamfisted handling of the cell phone scandal (which should not be a scandal). Before he hit the campaign trail, he was a gadfly on MSNBC who grabbed interviews when nobody else could be found to provide commentary. Demagoguery is part of any successful campaign but it’s all Sanders has to offer. Once the smoke clears, the word “socialist” will stop any serious Sanders nomination dead in its tracks.

    If you like the soundbites and the ideas expressed, and that’s understandable, go out and get the real deal: Elizabeth Warren. She isn’t running (yet), but if you want the real deal, be part of putting the pressure on Warren to run for President. Meanwhile, enjoy The Bern Show while it lasts.

  7. Mike, we can fight that. Bernie wasn’t afraid to fight that yesterday. Bernie isn’t afraid to ply those we might wrongly dismiss as an enemy with open conversation.

  8. 96, you and your dratted caution!

    I understand the practical danger of nominating a socialist. However, between now and the convention (ten months, end of July 2016), we have an opportunity to see just how far we can push the conversation, how far we can beat back the assumption that a candidate like Sanders cannot win. I’ll ride that horse for as long as possible. Let’s see what the polling numbers look like in June, when Hillary may drag Bill all over our fair state again trying to win the last few delegates that would turn her fortunes around and secure the nomination against a guy who was nowhere in the polls twelve months earlier.

  9. Point well taken, my dear sir! I’d like to see some of that energy poured into getting a viable candidate who can sell her vision on the issues that Sanders is articulating. But, by all means, let’s keep that conversation going and I will do my best to encourage it.

  10. Deb Geelsdottir

    Nope 96, I’m not going to dial my support for Bernie back to look for someone more electable. I think Sanders is electable because that’s how fed up the electorate is. We elected an unknown George peanut farmer because citizens were so fed up with Republican corruption.

    I believe people are that fed up again. I think that if Jesse Ventura could become governor of MN, and a Black man could become president of the USA, a Democratic Socialist can be elected president too.

    In my opinion, a strong Sanders campaign is a win/win. If he does not win the nomination, he will have pushed Hilary to the left, and she needs that to become more attractive to voters like me.

    Last, but not least, I must be true to my conscience and do my part to make this nation a better place for the least among us. I cannot sit back and be cynical and complain about more of the same. For the sake of my integrity, I must participate. It’s important to me and my sense of congruence. My insides need to match my outsides.

  11. Deb Geelsdottir

    From my quick perusal of national media, it appears that Bernie has earned respect from all sides for going to Liberty U and articulating his beliefs with a complete absence of pandering. Who doesn’t like that? And what Republican candidate refuses to pander? (That’s a serious question. ) Carson?

  12. mike from iowa

    Chelsea C expressed disbelief that not everyone loves her Mother. I just lost all respect for Chelsea. Go Bernie,dangit.

  13. 96-sounds like reasonable caution, and a female dem prez at this point is long past due.

  14. The last Republican Presidential candidate not to pander was Jon Huntsman, and he was far too sane to ever get nominated in that party. This time around John Kasich doesn’t seem to be pandering much.

    Hillary’s troubles are not going to go away. People across the political spectrum have internalized the belief that she is untrustworthy, dishonest, and arrogant. She’s not even a little bit likeable. If the e-mail scandal goes away, which is doubtful, then she’ll get tripped up in some other problems of her own making resulting from her belief that the rules don’t apply to her (they didn’t apply to Bill, but she’s no slick willy). The only hope the Democratic Party has of winning the Presidency is to nominate someone who is not Hillary, but Sanders isn’t even a Democrat. I could get excited about a Biden/Warren ticket, but I’d be equally excited by a Warren/? ticket. Millions of voters – Democrats especially – will stay home if this race is Clinton vs. Bush.

  15. larry kurtz

    someone remind us how angela merkel is likable.

  16. Someone please remind Mr Kurtz that the political structure in Deutschland is vastly different than in USA. The Merkel comparison is meaningless.

  17. I like Angela Merkel, and I’m not aware of her telling between 3-5 different and verifiably false statements about anything. Even when Hillary said she was sorry for the e-mail thing everybody knew she was lying. She’s never been sorry about anything. I think she’s a sociopath.

  18. Here’s the truth about the electoral college. No South Dakotan’s vote for President counts in the general election unless that vote is for the Republican candidate. In the general election, since my vote against the Republican won’t count then it doesn’t really matter to anyone but me if I cast a vote for President or not. So it won’t matter if/when I simply leave that race blank rather than vote for Hillary in the general if she is the nominee. The primary is a different matter.

  19. Deb Geelsdottir

    I think that Hilary’s honesty is lacking to a certain extent, but I don’t think she’s as dishonest as the wingnuts, helped by Faux Noise, have claimed. Remember, she’s had the #1 Target on her back ever since she said she wasn’t going to stay home and bake cookies in 1992. That’s more than 20 years of attacks.

    I don’t think she’s nearly as slimy as she’s made out to be. Hilary is a highly skilled politician. That’s why she was a good Sec of State. That’s what made LBJ such an effective president. She’s far more pragmatic and reasonable than any of the Republican candidates. (I realize that’s faint praise, except for Kasich. Thanks for that comment Rohr.)

    It’s very important to dig through all the Clinton-hating chatter for what is true about Hilary. My objections to her are that she’s too cozy with Wall Street and too hawkish for my taste. She is not a loathsome human being. She is a woman and a Clinton. Therefore, the wingnuts have a visceral hatred for Hilary.

  20. Well said, Deb. But I don’t like Hillary. I don’t trust Hillary. I don’t believe Hillary. And I don’t watch Fox News.

    Don’t believe for a second, Deb, that Hillary’s problems are fictions created by Fox News. Hillary’s electoral problems are the result of people seeing the true Hillary.

  21. Roger Cornelius

    Elizabeth Warren has stated several times that she is not a candidate for president, I’ll respect here word.

    Joe Biden sounds more questionable every time I listen time, Beau’s death has obviously taken a serious toll on him, I’ll consider him if he announces.

    I’m not even certain about all the supposed scandals surrounding Hillary since most have been propagated by FOX “News” and the State Department continues to deny any conflict.

    Bernie sounds good, really good, and I’m certain that he gave the students at Liberty University some real family values to think about, issues that face Americans everyday, not just the over debated abortion and marriage equality issues.

    96 Tears does raise the same issues I have with Bernie, I’m just not certain he can overcome the “socialist communist” label that conservatives will place on him.

    The students at Liberty University may understand Bernie and some may even agree with him, but how does he make low information republican voters understand that he would be the best president for them?

  22. Porter Lansing

    This is how politics is done. This is how Clinton politics is won. Next September these e-mails, which are now ad-nauseum will be barely remembered and not mentioned at all by voters. One must remember that we who enjoy politics are a tiny bit of those who elect politicians. “HighValueVoters” i.e. those who don’t make up their mind or even pay attention until a few weeks before an election, find politics boring and way too drawn out and they’re probably right. The Clintons are getting it all on the table, shuffled and hashed out and moved to the “old business” file. After all, the election is over a year away. NOW, watch the debate tomorrow night and tell me who can beat her? JEB will be the candidate because the Republicans always take the next guy in line. i.e. Crazy Old John McCain and business criminal Mitt Romney.

  23. larry kurtz

    Fred Deutschland is unlikable.

  24. Rorschach – You realize (don’t you?) that your vote in the SD June Primary is probably just as inconsequential as your vote in the General Election.

  25. 96, who knows? Maybe if we can help Sanders keep this conversation going, if we can get Clinton supporters like Warren Buffett to say Sanders is running an exemplary campaign, if Elizabeth Warren has more conversations with Sanders, and if Sanders can rise from the 20s to the 30s in the polls and keep Clinton trending down (as she has since July 4), maybe The Bern Show, even if it is just a show, a hopeless show, can convince Clinton that she needs to be less like whatever she’s crafted so far and more like the candidate we saw at Liberty University yesterday. If Bernie can’t win, can he at least get Hillary to swing our way and get real?

  26. Deb Geelsdottir

    You may be right about much of what you say Porter. Hilary is very smart. Tea baggers will remember, but their influence beyond the Republican primaries is minimal.

    Rohr, you certainly have a right to your opinion, and I respect it. And I disagree with you.

  27. No way, Curt! Let’s be optimists: the DNC nomination will come down to the wire, even closer than 2008. Bernie will hang in there, dog Clinton through all the Super Tuesdays (every day when people get to vote is Super, right?), and Bill and Hillary will be in South Dakota again (and this time, I’ll get interviews, not just photos!)

  28. Roger Cornelius

    Dang there are a lot of “ifs” in your 22:05 comment, Cory.

  29. bearcreekbat

    Okay Rorschach educate me. You argue that “I don’t trust Hillary. I don’t believe Hillary.” Great, but can you tell me what specific “lies” or “misrepresentations” you believe she has given or made?

    As for her private email server, am I mistaken to believe that this was done by prior Secretaries of State and was neither illegal nor even discouraged when Hillary served as SOS? Otherwise, as best that I can recall she has presented herself as a genuine progressive ever since she came to the age of reason and shifted from a Republican to a Democrat as a young woman.

  30. None here address the fact that Hillary is in the White House meat grinder. Put a Warren on top of Sanders in your column and you have cross party voters.

    Are you saying the Clintons are clean, bear?

  31. Interesting question, Bearcreekbat. According to Politifact, while several government officials have used private e-mail accounts for official business, Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush are the only two major public officials we have on record saying they used a private server for their e-mails while in office.

  32. Hillary supports the Keystone XL with a proven track record. Bernie does not. That choice of hers, has an effect on the world and in particular, South Dakota. I stand with Bernie.

  33. mike from iowa

    Snowgrift Snookie used private e-mails as quitter guv of Alaska. Snowgrift Tawd,the first dude of Alaska used it,as well.

  34. bearcreekbat

    jerry’s point makes sense – policy arguments with differing views of the Keystone pipeline is a rational reason to distinguish candidates.

    Les’ question whether “the Clintons are clean” seems irrational. Hillary is Hillary. She is not “the Clintons.” Bill lied in a deposition, Hillary did not. Les, can you point out a single dishonest act or statement attributable to Hillary?

  35. The truth is out there Bearcreekbat. I’m not writing a theme paper for you. Go over to realclearpolitics.com or wherever you prefer and do your own research. If you haven’t read or heard any of the lies Hillary has been telling about the e-mail server then you need to have your eyes and/or ears checked. Her story has changed numerous times. Heck, I already gave you an example of one lie. Hillary said she was sorry. Do you believe that?

  36. Curt, I’m ‘Uncle Rohrschach’ to you.

  37. bearcreekbat

    Rorschach, now you are telling me I have to do independent research to confirm your assertion that Hillary is a liar? And why do you claim that Hillary lied when she said she was sorry about having her private email server? That sounds more like a snarky sarcastic comment than any evidence of a lie.

    Indeed, the claim that “I’m sorry” is a lie seems more consistent with the conservative yelling about all these “lies” without ever identifying a single actual factual lie. And if you are unwilling (or unable) to identify such a lie, perhaps you would have a better argument by focusing on policy issues that you disagree with Hillary positions, such as her Iraq war vote or her military hawkishness.

    But simply claiming she is dishonest and untrustworthy without identifying any concrete evidence seems more like a Donald Trump approach, or Fox News approach.

  38. bearcreekbat

    Rorschach, here is one reader’s opinion about Realclearpolitics:

    “I’m sorry, but the overall impression I get is NOT that of an unbiased, even playing field site and therefore any information including polling information that is put out on the site is SUSPECT in my opinion. I feel that this site is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a Right Wing site trying to pretend that it is “Fair and Balanced” and thus sway people who may be on the fence.”

    http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=132×3872266

    The blogger gives numerous examples before coming to this conclusion.

    And here is an article about the law and Hillary’s email:

    http://mediamatters.org/research/2015/03/03/the-new-york-times-deceptive-suggestion-that-hi/202726

  39. Porter Lansing

    Real Clear Politics is definitely right leaning. It’s quoted by Glenn Beck, Joe Pags, Mike Rosen and scorned by the guru of Washington, Bill Press.

  40. Realclearpolitics.com is a clearinghouse. They post articles daily from publications across the political spectrum. New York Times, and New York Post. Washington Post, and Washington Times. Eugene Robinson, and George Will.

    Bearcreekbat, you suggest Hillary is honest. A majority of people disagree with you. Where is your proof that her numerous changed stories about her e-mail server are all true?

  41. http://www.realclearpolitics.com/about.html

    You guys are the liberal versions of Fox News viewers, Porter Lansing and Bearcreekbat. You think any news outlet that doesn’t reinforce your beliefs 100% of the time is biased toward the other side.

  42. bearcreekbat

    Rorschach, Now you seem to be dodging and weaving.

    First, I quoted a blogger that questioned the neutrality of Realclearpolitics.com, and provided examples of why the blogger concluded this was a right leaning site. Instead, of addressing that problem you make assumptions about my views on news sites that don’t reinforce my views. My own views, however, have nothing to do with whether a web site leans toward the truth or a particular political view.

    Next, in response to my inquiry about why you consider Hillary dishonest, you tell me to do my own research, and cannot apparently identify a single instance where you can show she was dishonest or untruthful. Instead you snark about whether her apology was genuine even though you have no knowledge or evidence to suggest it was not.

    Now, you have decided that it is I who must present you with evidence that Hillary is honest, even though I never made the claim that she was honest. My question was aimed at learning why others called her dishonest. I admit to a presumption that we are all honest until we are caught doing something dishonest.

    Given your dodge and weave responses, I have to conclude that you cannot provide any examples or evidence of Hillary making false statements or being dishonest. That being the case, I will rely on my presumption that she has acted honestly as she advocated policies to improve our government.

  43. Porter Lansing

    You got him, Bear. Top to bottom and inside out. Hear, hear

  44. Roger Cornelius

    I’m watching the GOP early debate. five minutes in and their talking about Sanders being a socialist-Democrat.

  45. But wasn’t Obama supposed to fix all this? See, O never was the liberal the cons made him out to be. Not even close.

  46. Hillary would have had Keystone pumping oil two years back, Bear. Tell me she isn’t bought and paid for. Clean. Irrational. How can one not be irrational living in the mess of her story his story. Obama owned by the railroad and Hil owned by big awl and you say I’m irrational?

    Btw if Hillary is not the Clintons, she should move out.

  47. Deb Geelsdottir

    I have a “Bernie for President” sticker on my car. Today a driver stopped at the light next to me and shouted out his support for Bernie too. I think he has a shot at at Democratic support here in MN. His volunteer organizations are well staffed and very active. They’re going down to Iowa weekly to help locals set up shop. We have caucuses here, rather than primaries and I’m going to attend and caucus for him.

    Rohr and Les, I’m still wondering about -Facts- to support your allegations about Hilary. I’ve said I have differences with her regarding policy, but you 2 aren’t talking about policy, you’re just taking cheap shots. Unless you can factually back up your accusations, that’s all they are, cheap shots.

  48. You will be a good caucuser, Ms. Geelsottir. I bet you can twist a few arms Do they hold those caucuses at the fancy St. Paul Grill?

  49. rohr….Les, Les … rohr. you two should be very happy (campers) republicans together.