Remarks as prepared for delivery at the National Press Club, Washington, D.C. June 23, 2015
Thank you all for being here today, and for all you’ve done to bring us to this historic moment, as a movement for democracy and justice is sweeping the planet. Thanks to so many in this room who are leading the charge - to Cheri Honkala for lifting the voices of black, brown and poor people in the fight for economic justice; to German Parodi for defending the rights of students, immigrants, and the disabled, Bonnie Lane for mobilizing the homeless to become a new political force in Baltimore as part of your mayoral campaign.
This work for Democracy and Justice is the antidote to the converging crises we face, crises that Martin Luther King described as racism, militarism and extreme materialism, now made even worse by the climate crisis. Communities across the globe are rising up against these disasters - from Ferguson to Gaza, Baltimore to Cairo, Detroit to Pine Ridge.
This struggle for justice is especially wrenching today in the aftermath of the latest act of racist terrorism in Charleston, South Carolina. where nine magnificent lives were taken from their families, communities, and all of us. This tragedy is a painful reminder that our nation’s roots in the criminal institution of slavery go deep. And that legacy carries forward from slave trade to lynchings, to Jim Crow, to drug wars, mass incarceration, police violence, the school to prison pipeline, and unconscionable racial disparities in health, wealth and education.
We must see the continuity between the covert violence of institutional racism and the flagrant violence of white supremacy. And it must all be stopped. In the face of this horror, the courage, forgiveness and love of the victims’ families is utterly astounding, and a model of the tranforming power of human spirit. Let their example be a living inspiration for the broader movement for democracy and justice.
I’d like to tell you how I've come to be a part of this movement.
Thirty-five years ago, as a new doctor and mother starting off in medical practice, I saw clearly, even then, that our healthcare system was failing, especially for the poor. I was deeply troubled by the new epidemics descending on our children – the rising tide of obesity, asthma, autism and more.
I joined community groups working to eliminate the upstream drivers of these diseases - everything from pollution to poverty, to industrial food and street violence. After years lobbying elected officials, I realized our health system was part of a much larger failure of our political establishment. a system not only failing us, but outright exploiting us, in collusion with the economic elite funding their political campaigns.
That’s when I realized that as a doctor I could best contribute to the health of society by practicing not clinical medicine, but political medicine - confronting the mother of all illnesses, our sick political system that must be healed if we’re to hold any hope of fixing these ills that are literally killing us.
Now decades later, this practice of political medicine brought me to picket lines at oil refineries in Houston Texas, to the trial of Benton Harbor political prisoner Reverend Edward Pinkney, to the immigrant struggle on the Rio Grande, to the DC Mothers Day march to the US Department of Justice with mothers from across the country who’d lost their sons to police violence.
Thanks to these courageous souls and so many others who are realizing that dreaming for change is not enough, hoping for change is getting no where, and are taking the power in their own hands to defend their communities, their children and their rights. They do this not because they want to, they do it because they have to, because their political representatives from both parties have sold out the people and the planet to the highest bidder.
As a result we face a crisis of historic proportions.
1 in 2 American families are in or near poverty. Twenty million people need full time work, yet 75% the jobs being created are part time and temporary. 40 million students are in debt with little prospect of getting out. Meanwhile corporate profits have tripled, and a mere 80 billionaires have the wealth equivalent to half of the world’s population of 3.5 billion. This is unconscionable.
The ecological crisis is beyond an emergency. 2014 was the hottest year yet. California, which produces half the fruit and vegetable supply for the country, has one year of water left in its reservoirs. Where the climate is heading can be seen in India which has just had one of its worst heat waves in recorded history, with a heat and humidity impact equivalent to 149 degrees F, causing roads to melt and killing nearly 2000 people. Climate stress is causing species to disappear at a rate that more than 1000 times normal. As a consequence, half of the world’s species are expected to die off by 2100, putting the survival of humans into the next century at grave risk.
Bottom line. We’re in trouble, and the political parties that got us in to this mess are not just unwilling, they are utterly incapable of getting us out. We need the people powered political movement that does not sell out to the corporate predators and economic elite. or their apologists in the Democratic and Republican Parties.
That’s why I’m here today to launch my campaign for President of the United States.
I’m running because this nation is in crisis. Only we the people have the power to fix it.
To paraphrase Alice Walker, the biggest way people give up power is by not knowing we have it to start with. Well we do have the power. And it’s time to use it. In poll after poll, the American people are calling for the kinds of solutions we’re offering. Polls also show that people are leaving the two corporate parties by the droves, and 58% are calling for a 3rd party.
The American people have had enough of a Two Party system that bails out Wall Street and throws out Main Street. We’ve had enough of rule by the 1%, with their cult of cut throat competition and their religion of greed. It’s now clear for all to see where these oppressive systems have led us -to extreme inequality, economic despair, racism, endless war, and climate catastrophe.
But the American people have the power to create a new way forward , and the solutions we need are in our hands.
Our Power to the People Plan lays out these solutions in a blueprint to move our economy from the greed and exploitation of corporate capitalism to a human-centered system that puts people, planet and peace over profit. This plan would end unemployment and poverty; avert climate catastrophe; build a sustainable, just economy; and recognize the dignity and human rights of everyone in our society. The plan affirms that we have the power to take our future back:
We have the power to create a Green New Deal, providing millions of jobs by transitioning to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030.
We have the power to provide to a living-wage job and workers rights for every American.
We have the power to end poverty and guarantee economic human rights.
We have the power to make health-care a human right through an improved Medicare for All system,.
We have the power to provide education as a right and abolish student debt.
We have the power to create a just economy.
We have the power to protect Mother Earth.
We have the power to end institutional racism, police brutality and mass incarceration.
We have the power to restore our Constitutional rights.
We have the power to end our wars of aggression, close foreign bases and cut military expenditures 50%
We have the power to empower the people.
I invite you to join our campaign and make the most of this moment of historic transformation. We will be in this race all the way to November 2016 and beyond. We will amplify the voices of courage and transformation already inspiring us across America. Our campaign is building a people-powered force that will not sell or bow out, and will change American politics forever.
Visit jill2016.com. Connect with us. Volunteer. Make a donation. This Democracy needs more than your vote. It needs the Power in your hands to reject lesser evil and to rise up for Greater Good!
Now is the time to seize this moment of crisis together and create the world of democracy, justice and peace that we all we deserve.
The Power to create this world Is not in our hopes, it’s not in our dreams, it’s in our hands!