When he spoke at the South Carolina Democratic Party’s annual convention on April 25, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) opened with an apology, not only regarding the content on which he was about to speak, but for his method of delivery, too.
I’m a blunt, straight-talking guy, not a warm, fuzzy type.
His blunt approach at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center was still warmly received, though. Attending delegates gave frequent applause and ovation to Sanders as he spoke about common issues, especially those pertaining to youth and their future in the United States.
Take economics, for example, which is a key platform topic in Sanders’ potential presidential campaign. Unemployment may be at a recent low of 5.5 percent, but when you add in the U-5 and U-6 classes – those who could only get part-time employment after losing their regular work, and others who simply gave up on finding a job – the actual figure is closer to 11 percent, Sanders said.
It’s worse for younger Americans, though. Sanders pointed out that youth unemployment is at 17 percent. And for African-American youth, the rate is “off the charts,” leading to one-out-of-three young black males winding up in jail, he noted.
The U.S. isn’t addressing the causes of these problems, Sanders implied, and is instead only throwing money away at their results. “Instead of investing in jails, why not education?”
The jobs to be realized from that education need to be better-paying, though. Americans are today earning less, Sanders says, and because of a combination of factors, including restricted labor rights and the movement of many middle-class jobs overseas. The U.S. lost 60,000 factories since 1999, he said, forcing Americans to take lower-paying jobs just to remain employed.
Thirty years ago, General Motors was the largest employer in the country; today, it’s Walmart. Our kids will have a lower standard of living than we do if we don’t turn things around.
Sanders closed with promotion of a “strong, progressive agenda” that includes: a federal jobs program, minimum-wage increase, return to U.S. manufacturing, expansion of Social Security, and a single-payer healthcare system.
Featured Image: Brookings Institute via Flickr