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Nina Turner: “What the People Want”

Only one presidential candidate has consistently challenged the establishment and fought for the working class. Nina Turner explains why there’s no substitute for Bernie.

Photo by Bryan Giardinelli

On my way in while I was on the train, I was listening to another New Yorker, and I was thinking about Senator Bernard Sanders, all that he has been through, and the fact that his first major rally with the people is in Queens.

I was thinking about a brother by the name of LL Cool J. Can I just quote you some of these words?

Don’t call it a comeback
I’ve been here for years

Talk about Senator Sanders is back? He’s been here. 

Don’t call this a regular jam
I’m gonna rock this land, this world, and take it by storm

That’s Senator Bernard Sanders. Brother LL also said, “and I’m just getting warm.” How many of you feel the Bern? Now, here’s the most important part:

I’m gonna knock you out
Mama said knock you out

Senator Bernard Sanders is going to knock out the special interests in DC. He’s going to knock out that multibillionaire class that does not believe the work-a-day people in this country deserve a good life. So not only does mama say knock them out, the people say knock them out.

My foundation comes from Barbara Jordan, a congresswoman from Texas. She said these words: “What the people want is very simple: they want an America as good as its promise.” That’s it and that’s all.

So we’re looking for an America where folks don’t die because they’ve got to ration out their insulin. We are looking for an America where hospitals are not closing — hello Hahnemann in Philadelphia. And hospitals are closing all over this country, particularly in rural areas. What the people want is very simple. We want a health care system that is not commodified. That’s it and that’s all.

We want finally to have a justice system that doesn’t gun down black folks in their houses. We are at a place in this country where you couldn’t read while black, sleep while black, do nothing while black. We’re going to clean up this criminal injustice system. What the people want is very simple. We need to have some truth and reconciliation about the ravages of racism in the United States of America. That’s it and that’s all.

What the people want is very simple: we want clean water, clean air, and clean food. We must take care of Mother Earth right now. That’s it and that’s all.

And when I say that there’s nobody quite like Bernard Sanders, I mean that. We’ve got some folks in the mainstream and the neoliberal side who really can’t understand the difference.

But I’m going to break this down for you: there are many copies. There are people who didn’t have the same guts and the same courage as Senator Bernie Sanders to run in 2016. There are some people who sat on the sidelines when it was hard. There is only one person who stood up to the establishment, and his name is Bernard Sanders.

So, oh yes, we’ve got a lot of copies. But there’s only one candidate in 2016 who told the multimillionaires and billionaires in this country: keep your money, I’ll raise my money with the people.

There’s only one candidate who has been marching with working-class people not because he’s running for president, but because it’s right. Hello Marriott workers, hello Amazon workers, hello Verizon workers, hello teachers.

And I don’t know about you, but I hail from a tradition that says that you will know the tree from the fruit that it bears — and Senator Bernie Sanders bears good fruit.

So there are many copies. People want to talk about a “framework.” People who say that to multimillionaires and billionaires, nothing will fundamentally change for you. Well, Queens, I’ve got a message: if nothing fundamentally changes for multimillionaires and billionaires, then nothing fundamentally changes for you, and you, and you, and you.

We finally have somebody in our lifetime who will be unflinching — whose only special interests are his sisters and brothers in Queens; whose only special interests are his sisters and brothers in Denmark, South Carolina and Flint, Michigan; whose only special interests are the people of this great nation.

So, yes, there are many copies — but there is only one original. I don’t know why you would take the copy when you can have the original. He didn’t vote to give President Trump more money for wars — hello somebody. He voted against these rotten trade deals that steal wealth from our communities.

There is only one Bernard Sanders; let the record reflect that there’s only one. Being similar is not being the same — come on somebody. There’s only one.

And it just baffles my mind how in a nation where we claim to want progress, that folks think ageism is all right. Let me tell you something, as someone who lost their mother at a young age — my mother was forty-two years old when she left this plane of existence — life happens to us all. So if you are going to ask all the presidential candidates about their health, don’t call out our senator — come on somebody. Because the one thing we all have in common is that if the Lord blesses us to live long enough, we all might just opt to run for president at the age of seventy-eight.

So memo to the mainstream media, memo to the haters: #BernieIsBack. But as Mayor Cruz said, he never went anywhere — we just pushed pause for a minute.

I know all the family is here, and we’ve got some important people here today. But it’s not just important that the family gets together, we’ve got to hit those streets. This battle will be won in the streets. And I’ve heard about Queens, you all know how to do battle in the streets.

We will elect the most progressive candidate in our lifetime, one who will not sell us out or sell us down the road. One who doesn’t say one thing in the primary and do something different in the general — come on somebody.

We’re going to elect someone who understands that there are disparities within the disparities: if you are black, if you are brown, if you are indigenous, and if you are poor, this system is rigged — it is rotten to the core. And we’re going to unrig it. That’s it and that’s all.

So we need you to sign up your friends, we need you to sign up to help this campaign. We are going to make history when Senator Bernard Sanders is sworn into office.

I do want to say that I’m mad as hell, and I do know that I’m a black woman, last time I checked. I know that sometimes people talk about the Angry Black Woman, but I can tell you something: if you ain’t mad as a mofo about what’s going on here, something is wrong with you. Mad with a purpose.

So as an Angry Black Woman, we’re taking applications. You all can be mad as hell with us. Mad about a system that allows CEOs to make money hand over first while other folks have to grovel for a living. Mad about the fact that we don’t have leaders who won’t equivocate in standing up for the people. Mad that folks are living out on the streets. Mad that people are too afraid to go out and see a doctor because they can’t afford it. Mad because our babies need to be educated and our teachers need to be paid.

But we’re going to get glad because we’re going to use this energy and this synergy to help Senator Bernard Sanders make it to the White House — when we all get to the White House. Are you all ready for that?

So I need you to do something for me. Raise one hand for yourself and another hand for somebody else. Dr Maya Angelou once said that we have to have the courage to stand up for ourselves and the courage to stand up for somebody else.

And with these hands we will have Medicare for All. With these hands we will cancel student debt. With these hands we will cancel medical debt. With these hands we will make an investment on Main Street, and tell Wall Street to go straight to hell. With these hands we will make sure that every baby in this country can aspire to live a good life.

With these hands, ladies, we want the whole damn dollar. With these hands we will combat climate chaos. With these hands we will do something about income inequality and wealth inequality.

And with these hands we will elect Senator Bernard Sanders the next president of the United States of America.