BURLINGTON, VT - Kicking off the inaugural Sanders Institute conference in Burlington, Vermont this weekend—billed as "A Gathering of Minds to Envision the World We Want"—Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) gave a keynote address to a crowd of influential progressives from around the world Thursday evening.
In keeping with the Gathering's mission "to revitalize our democracy," Sanders' address encompassed the progressive vision for the future—one in which economic, social, racial, and political power is distributed amongst the people who keep the world's economies running, rather than accumulated by the wealthiest few.
"At the end of the day our vision is for a world that works for the children of this world, not for a handful of billionaires," the senator told the crowd.
Sanders pushed back strongly against the notion that progressive ideas like Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and sufficient support for American families are impossible to achieve.
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"It's not only that we have the highest rate of childhood poverty in any developed country," Sanders said. "People are going to work every day—it is not too much to ask that they have affordable childcare. It is not a radical ideal."
"Maybe the wealthiest country in the history of the world—maybe we might want to do what every other developed country has done: guarantee healthcare to every citizen," he added.
Finally, Sanders reminded the audience that while President Donald Trump has captured a vocal minority who appear willing to stand by him even as his policies draw international outrage and accusations of crimes against humanity, the progressive movement represents the viewpoints of most Americans.
"Despite Trump's demagoguery, I want everyone here to know that Americans are in a different place than Donald Trump...The majority of the American people believe in comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship," Sanders said. "On issue after issue, whether it's commonsense gun legislation, whether it's student debt, whether it's immigration reform...the American people are with us on those issues. The GOP did not run ads saying, 'Let's cut taxes for the rich, Social Security, and Medicare,' because Americans do not support them on those issues."
The senator's speech opened a three-day event during which international politicians, writers, and activists will discuss bold progressive proposals aimed at tackling the issues facing working families all over the U.S. and the world—access to healthcare, wage inequality, institutionalized racism, the climate crisis, and more.