In a fiery closing speech at the 2020 Democratic presidential debate in Miami, Florida Thursday night, Sen. Bernie Sanders said compelling campaign rhetoric and detailed policy proposals will do nothing to alter America's deeply unequal status quo if U.S. leaders are not willing to take on Wall Street, the fossil fuel industry, and other powerful corporate forces standing in the way of progressive change.
"Nothing will change unless we have the guts to take on Wall Street, the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the military-industrial complex, and the fossil fuel industry."
—Sen. Bernie Sanders
"I suspect people all over the country who are watching this debate are saying, these are good people, they have great ideas," said Sanders. "But how come nothing really changes? How come for the last 45 years wages have been stagnant for the middle class? How come we have the highest rate of childhood poverty? How come 45 million people still have student debt? How come three people own more wealth than the bottom half of America?"
The answer, Sanders said, is that "nothing will change unless we have the guts to take on Wall Street, the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the military-industrial complex, and the fossil fuel industry."
"If we don't have the guts to take them on, we'll continue to have plans, we'll continue to have talk, and the rich will get richer, and everybody else will be struggling," the Vermont senator concluded.
"Nothing will change unless we have the guts to take on Wall St, the insurance industry, the pharma industry, military industrial complex, and fossil fuel industry.
If we don't, we'll continue to have plans, and the rich will get richer, and everyone else will be struggling" pic.twitter.com/Hkx47C0Hxs
— People for Bernie (@People4Bernie) June 28, 2019
Sanders's closing speech was widely viewed as his strongest moment of the night, and progressives celebrated the senator's willingness to name the corporate forces invested in upholding a system that has enriched a small slice of the population while leaving most of the public with soaring healthcare costs, stagnant incomes, and a polluted environment.
— Saikat Chakrabarti (@saikatc) June 28, 2019
Bernie won with his 45 second closing statement alone.
No one else on the stage seemed to understand that what we lack is not ideas, or civility, or gravitas, or clever quips.
But political courage and power—power that must be identified and seized.
— Kaniela Ing (@KanielaIng) June 28, 2019
"Bernie Sanders is right," tweeted the youth-led Sunrise Movement, which continued its sit-in outside DNC headquarters Thursday night. "Our generation is looking for a president who has the 'guts to take on the fossil fuel industry.' We won't settle for less."
Waleed Shahid, communications director for progressive advocacy group Justice Democrats, said the core of Sanders's argument is that "we live in a deeply hierarchical society made up of a powerful few on top who do not want to give up their power."
"He's right that only power and a movement of millions coming together can upend our corrupt and rigged system," Shahid tweeted.