Why I Think America Needs Bernie Sanders for President


John Wisniewski is New Jersey Assembly Speaker and NJ State Chair of the Bernie Sanders for President Campaign.


In the years since the Great Recession, I have watched with frustration over the...

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Why I Think America Needs Bernie Sanders for President

February 01, 2016

John Wisniewski is New Jersey Assembly Speaker and NJ State Chair of the Bernie Sanders for President Campaign. In the years since the Great Recession, I have watched with frustration over the tepid response from government at all levels to the personal tragedies that have played out for far too many families. People have lost homes, lost jobs and, worst of all, lost hope as their representatives in government have shown more concern for counting pennies than for their plight. As Chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee I have found it particularly galling to watch this suffering knowing that an investment in our infrastructure could provide good jobs with good wages for hundreds of thousands. Yet our government, both on a federal and state level, has been too timid to act as it should have. In recent years, my three daughters have grown from girls to young women. As with most parents, my wife and I want the best for them and their future. We have been blessed in our lives but, as we helped each decide on their college education, I have been astounded at the cost and concerned about how others less fortunate manage the burden of paying for it. And as my eldest, a recent college graduate begins her way in the world I see first-hand the sacrifices she makes to pay back the debt she incurred. The cumulative weight of these frustrations and burdens can be seen in statistics that document a decline in middle-class incomes and families; a rising concentration of wealth among those who have more than they would ever need and a growing number of Americans with low incomes or living in poverty. As I approached this year’s presidential election, my personal experiences and my concerns led me to conclude that the incremental and modest pace that Democrats have taken to address our concerns over inequality and diminishing opportunity were too little. America needs a bold shift in direction and Bernie Sanders is the person who can do it. To those who believe that he is too out of the mainstream to be elected, I would remind you that America has a long history of appreciating and rewarding boldness such as his. Our country was founded by idealists rebelling against the most powerful nation in the world for justice and equality. At a time when many in the world turned to fascism to restore order following the Great Depression, American’s turned to Franklin D. Roosevelt and to policies called socialism in his day – social security, unemployment insurance and a minimum wage. And we are better off for it as a nation. When American feared Communists and their progress in exploring space, many thought it was audacious for President Kennedy to pledge that America would put a man on the moon by the end of the decade, but we did it. Today, at a time when bankers feel that they should be calling the shots in Washington, I want somebody leading the country who can tell them “no” and restore a banking system that works for ordinary citizens and the small businesses that are the backbone of our economy. Under President Obama we have made huge progress in providing people with affordable health care, but our work isn’t done. Millions remain without coverage or underinsured. I don’t want to elect somebody as leader who wants to start the battle on their behalf by lowering expectations instead of attacking the problem. I want to support someone bold enough to call for free college education and tough enough to fight for it. I want someone who believes it is more important to bail out the family on the verge of losing their home than the bank looking to foreclose. I want Bernie Sanders to be elected our next President. In the end, Bernie Sanders may not win every good fight. But I know he’ll fight every good fight with every fiber of his being and I want to fight for him.