The brave Jewish Independent Senator from the small State of Vermont stepped into the Christian lion's den — and survived with respect and dignity. Business Insider wrote: "America's most liberal candidate just took his message to a hub of conservative politics — and it was fascinating."
Yes it was fascinating. There was such a huge crowd (and so much applause) that one might have thought that it was one of Bernie's typical campaign rallies. Although, not much was mentioned on the cable TV news stations today (prior to this post) — but later on in the day, Donald Trump's rally in Dallas was broadcast LIVE on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC (and it was live-streamed on NBC as well).
Earlier today Senator Bernie Sanders (who lacks Donald Trump's carnival-like appeal) had been addressing serious issues, and had been asking young religious conservatives to briefly put aside their opposition to gay marriage and abortion and focus more on income inequality. Sanders took his speech to Liberty University, a Christian school that was founded by the pastor Jerry Falwell.
Despite Bernie Sanders' personal belief on abortion, there is little he can do as a "Senator" to overturn the Supreme Court's decision on Roe v Wade. Even if the majority of the American people's opinion had changed, it could take years to repeal Roe v Wade. But as "President" Bernie Sanders, he could do much more on the pressing and immediate concerns on economic issues — such as income inequity.
After first being introduced by Jerry Falwell Jr, in his speech Bernie said religious voters should not tune out his message simply because he holds different positions on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage:
"I understand that issues such as abortion and gay marriage are very important to you and that we disagree on those issues. I get that. But let me respectfully suggest that there are other issues out there that are of enormous consequence to our country and the world and that maybe, just maybe, we don't disagree on them. And maybe, just maybe, we can work together in trying to resolve them."
So throughout most of his speech, instead Bernie Sanders focused on the injustice and immorality of obscene income inequality in America.
After his speech, when a Liberty University moderator talked about their opposition to abortion, Bernie replied:
"I understand that. But I would hope that other people respect the very painful and difficult choice that many women feel they have to make, and don't want the government telling them what they have to do. I believe that it is important for those with different views in our country to engage in civil discourse — not just to shout at each other or make fun of each other. It is very easy for those in politics to talk to those who agree with us. I do that every day. It is harder, but not less important, to try to communicate with those who do not agree with us."
Ultra-conservative Christian evangelicals vehemently oppose abortion and same-sex marriage to an overwhelming degree, despite also believing that no one should be be pre-judged or discriminated against. So Bernie Sanders primarily discussed moral, economic and family issues.
But Bernie could have also said that the Republicans only uses the social issue of abortion to divide people and gain votes (when even Republican women get abortions at the same rate as Democrats). Then Republican politicians vote for immoral and unethical economic issues that mostly benefit the rich when promoting government policies and budgets — which usually hurt the poor, the working-poor, what's left of the middle-class, single parents, the disabled, the elderly — and yes, all those innocent children that weren't aborted.
The Republicans say abortion is morally wrong, but then after preaching moral values, hypocritically cuts food stamps for the poor, refuses to raise the minimum wage so that women can afford to raise a child; deny women affordable healthcare to give birth to and care for a child; deny women paid time from work to be with their child after birth, or pay for child care while women are at work. The Republicans deny equal pay for women — and the Republicans favor private schools (for the wealthy) over public schools for the children of the poorest women. And the Republicans would do nothing to make college more affordable for their children after they graduate from high school.
And if their baby becomes disabled, the Republicans want to cut disability benefits as well. And if that baby ever becomes old enough to ever retire, the Republicans want to privatize Social Security to benefit hedge fund mangers — not to mention, raise the retirement age as well, so they would have to work until the day they drop dead.
In other words, the Republicans say that having an abortion is immoral, but the very second a baby is born, that baby is all on their own for the rest of their life — no matter what their mother does to try and provide them with the best possible care while preparing them for adulthood as they are growing up. Isn't that also immoral?
Bernie Sanders wants to make economic conditions much better for women so that many (forced by economic desperation) wouldn't need to turn to an abortion as a last resort — by making the minimum wage a "living wage" for women; providing women with adequate healthcare for themselves and their children; providing paid family leave after their child is born; providing child care for working moms (so that half their meager wages aren't paid to a babysitter while they are at work); providing women with the same pay for the same job as men; and providing free or affordable college tuition for their children when they get older.
In other words, if more women could afford to give birth to and care for a child, maybe there would also be a lot less abortions. Of course, Bernie never implied this, but consider the circumstances of the many single moms today. And maybe if more fathers had jobs that paid a real living wage, maybe more of them would stick around and not abandon their children.
Bernie noted that there are those [Republicans, without calling them out by name] who preach "family values", but don't offer the same "morality" in their government polices. For years the Republican Party has given us a false choice: Anti-abortion laws along with anti-labor laws, low wages and tax breaks for the rich — or the "mass genocide" of unborn children, but with much less income inequality.
But we can reform labor rights, raise wages, tax the rich their fair share, and regulate the banks — do all that and more — and STILL debate social issues such as abortion on the State level. And if ever a majority decided, could also reverse Roe v Wade. But why should so many remain so poor in the mean time?
Social issues should not be used as a wedge against reforming economic injustice. And improving the economic conditions for American workers would also do a lot more to help improve other problems that we have, such as with the issues of crime, the justice system and mass incarcerations. Better economic conditions for all working Americans would vastly improve our society in many other ways as well. Just ask Pope Francis (who Senator Sanders also alluded to in his speech today).
Below are some highlighted remarks by Bernie Sanders today at the Liberty University (edited for the 15-minute length now imposed on my YouTube channel). His full 40-minute speech with introductions, closing remarks and a Q&A session is provided here at C-SPAN (It was fascinating!)
Republican budgets consistently contain deep cuts to everything from schools and job training to infrastructure and veterans’ health care — all while increasing defense spending and protecting costly corporate loopholes. This is the Republican's moral vision of the world: Feed the rich and starve the poor.
Christian evangelists — please! — Feel the Bern!