Bernie Sanders Proposes a 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights

Note: In an effort to help the voting public understand the positions of Bernie Sanders on the issues, and why he calls himself a Democratic Socialist, I’m reprinting below the text of an email I received from him this week: It is all a direct quote from the candidate. — John

“While the Bill of Rights protects us from the tyranny of an oppressive government, many in the establishment would like the American people to submit to the tyranny of oligarchs, multinational corporations, Wall Street banks, and billionaires.

In 1944, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt proposed an economic bill of rights, because he knew that there cannot be true freedom without economic security. He was not able to enact it before his death. Seventy-five years later, that job falls to us.

That is why I am proposing we complete the unfinished work of FDR and the Democratic Party by putting forth a 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights. These rights include:

  • Quality health care
  • A complete education
  • A good job that pays a living wage
  • Affordable housing
  • A secure retirement
  • A clean environment

I am asking for your support for this 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights. Will you add your name to say you endorse these rights?

Please add your name to support our 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights to guarantee a living wage, quality health care, a complete education, affordable housing, a secure retirement, and a clean environment for every person in our country.


These are my values, and that is why I call myself a democratic socialist.

What I believe is that the American people deserve freedom – true freedom. Freedom is an often-used word, but it’s time we took a hard look at what that word actually means.

Ask yourself: what does it actually mean to be free?

Are you truly free if you are unable to go to a doctor when you are sick, or face financial bankruptcy when you leave the hospital?

Are you truly free if you cannot afford the prescription drug you need to stay alive?

Are you truly free when you spend half of your limited income on housing, and are forced to borrow money from a payday lender at 200% interest rates?

Are you truly free if you are 70 years old and forced to work because you lack a pension or enough money to retire?

Are you truly free if you are unable to attend college or a trade school because your family lacks the income?

Are you truly free if you are forced to work 60 or 80 hours a week because you can’t find a job that pays a living wage?

Are you truly free if you are a mother or father with a newborn baby but you are forced to go back to work immediately after the birth because you lack paid family leave?

Are you truly free if you are a small business owner or family farmer who is driven out by the monopolistic practices of big business?

Are you truly free if you are a veteran, who put your life on the line to defend this country, and now sleep out on the streets?

To me, the answer to those questions, in the wealthiest nation on earth, is no, you are not free.

It is time for the American people to stand up and fight for their rights to freedom, human dignity, and security.

Please add your name to endorse our 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights.

Thank you for being a part of our movement.

In solidarity,

Bernie Sanders”


Paradox of Personal Wants and Needs Writ Large in Politics

When it comes to government and bureaucracy, most of us simply want to be left alone and allowed to live as we please. Don’t we have enough demanding voices telling us what to do in our families, our personal relationships, our religion, our jobs?  Enough! We don’t need any more demands from government! All we want is some freedom, some independence, some space. And while we’re at it, some respect. “Is that too much to ask?” We shake our fist at big-brother government: “What part of that don’t you understand?”

Paradoxically, we want our needs to be taken care of. We’d like to be protected from the vagaries of life, please. (Vagary comes from the Latin, “to wander.”) We wander through a world of troubles — failures and successes — broken relationships, financial hardships, illnesses. The fears are not so clear when we are young and invincible; it all becomes more obvious as we get older. We want to be protected at least from the most fundamental brutalities, i.e., hunger, pain, violence, and failing health. At rock bottom, we’d really like to be protected from death.

Once in a while, democracy lays bare the paradox, confronting an issue that speaks to our innermost needs to be left alone and at the same time to be taken care of. A life-and-death issue, you might say. No wonder we are angry, divided, frightened and perplexed about health care.

Escape To A New Reality

I am a refugee from reality, if you call grinding work, urban congestion, and expensive lifestyle “reality.”

I began seriously losing speed and altitude in 2002, when I accepted a small buyout from a large company, at the age of 53. It was my last stop on a career of more than 25 years. My boss said I “had guts” because I was making a change in my 50s. I said, “Change is good.”

In the intervening years, I’ve made do with a variety of survival jobs in metro areas. Twice I stayed with the same job nearly two years. By the time I hit 60 (last summer),  I felt like my job was killing me. The metro suburbs seemed more and more congested, stressful and expensive. There was no sense of community. It didn’t feel like a civilized way to live.

I thought all summer about escaping. In early September, I found an inexpensive and very small apartment in a beautiful area, at some distance from the big city. I gave two weeks notice. I spent October sorting and boxing possessions. What I didn’t need I gave away or tossed in the dumpster. Most of the large furniture went to good homes with relatives. A few boxes and chairs are stored in a relative’s basement.

What was left, was transported, with help from my brothers, in one pickup truck and three carloads, to the new apartment. I felt like a fugitive — a happy fugitive. I escaped in broad daylight.

It took most of November to get unpacked and settled in my new retreat. After 44 continuous years of paid work, from age 16 to age 60, I granted myself a winter off. Six months of leisure and freedom to partially restore body and soul. To be continued . . .