I NEVER in a million years thought I’d end up in politics. I grew up in Oklahoma on the ragged edge of the middle class, and I devoted my career to figuring out why hard-working people go broke in the richest country in the world. I saw how the system was rigged against working families, and I got into the fight to help families like the one I grew up in.
Even before an out-of-control Wall Street crashed our economy and wrecked the lives of millions of Americans, I had an idea. We needed a consumer agency that would protect people when they got mortgages, credit cards or payday loans — just like existing federal watchdogs protect people when they buy toys or toasters.
During the crash, I went to Washington and talked to everybody I could about this idea. They all said they thought it was a great idea, but that I shouldn’t even bother trying. The big money and the big banks will fight you, they said. The Republicans will fight you — heck, even a bunch of the Democrats will fight you. You’ll never get this done.
I didn’t like that answer, so I fought anyway. And you know what? We got it done. President Obama supported my idea, signed it into law, and asked me to get it off the ground. And less than a decade later, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has forced financial institutions to return $12 billion to 29 million people they cheated.
Here’s what I learned from that experience: You don’t get what you don’t fight for — and you have to be willing to stand up to the powerful interests that will do anything to block reform.
I believe Democrats will win in November by showing the American people that we can root out Donald Trump’s corruption in Washington and deliver the big changes that actually affect our lives. That’s what I’m running on and that’s what I’ll do as president.
First, we need to talk honestly about what is broken in America. We have a country that is working great for the wealthy, and leaving everybody else behind. Pick any issue: tax breaks that favor the rich, environmental regulations that favor polluters, a racial wealth gap that holds back families, and the list goes on. Gun violence prevention, housing, child care, health care. If there’s a decision to be made in Washington, it’s been influenced by money. It’s been shaped by money. It’s been decided by money. So here’s what we have to do. We start by calling out what is broken: the corruption in the system.
Next, we show we’ve got plans to fix it. That’s why I’ve introduced legislation for the most sweeping anti-corruption reform since Watergate. And for the past year, I’ve taken hundreds of un-filtered questions from Granite Staters about all of my plans: universal child care and high-quality early education; universal free college and student loan debt cancellation; Medicare for All and expanded Social Security benefits. Each of these plans would be life-changing for people in every part of New Hampshire. They represent the big, structural change we need.
Finally, we build a movement to make it happen. I’ve done that here in New Hampshire, building a team that has become part of the community, earning endorsements from more than 60 State Representatives, and assembling support from hundreds of community activists from across the political spectrum. Volunteers have knocked on thousands of doors in every corner of the state. People who see the big problems facing us are coming together to take them on and fight back.
America has done this before. We fought back against a king in order to build our country. We fought back against slavery in order to preserve our country.
We fought back against a Great Depression in order to rebuild our country. We fought back against fascism in order to protect our country. We are at our best as a nation and as a people when we stand together and fight back.
This is a hard time for our country. But it is not the time to be afraid. It is not the time to think small, or to look backwards for solutions. This is the time for big, structural change. And I am optimistic that we can achieve it, because I believe in us.
I believe in the America we can build together. An America where every person has value. Where every child has real opportunity. Where the most important part of democracy is not money, it’s people.
I am not afraid and for Democrats to win in November, you can’t be afraid either. This is our moment in history to come together as a party and choose courage over fear. This is our moment to dream big and fight hard.