Populist Poposals Remind Why Nurses Trust Bernie Sanders to Heal America

In recent days, the Democratic Party establishment has stepped up efforts to freeze the momentum for Sen. Bernie Sanders, pressing Democratic Party office holders, who are also convention super delegates, to get in line and trying to create an impression that the contest is over.

These moves coincide with reports that the Democratic Party is again courting corporate influence in their conventions, including VIP access and treatment and premiere hotel rooms. The “menu of reward offerings,” reported The Hill, was presented at a meeting of Party officials with lobbyists from the banking, fossil fuel, and insurance industries.

What’s going on here? What the power brokers most fear is the populist, anti-corporate upsurge for Bernie Sanders and his campaign.

Sanders’ far-reaching policy proposals represent a fundamental break with politics as usual, exactly why his campaign draws such broad support.

Voters, especially young people, are responding to his call for a real path to heal a nation struggling with massive inequality, a still broken health care system, a racist criminal justice system, and a corrupted and rigged economic and political system.

And they recognize the ills are directly linked to decades of a corporate stranglehold over so much of our lives.


Nurses march in Las Vegas just prior to the Democratic debate

Nurses have also enthusiastically rallied for Sanders as an embodiment of the values of caring, compassion and community. They trust that when Sanders opposes

the corporate-friendly Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, the climate-killing Keystone pipeline, and the fraudulently named “Cadillac tax” on good health plans, he will hold to those principles on inauguration day 2017 and the days afterwards.

Sanders’ platform that goes a step beyond the other candidates includes:

  • Guaranteeing healthcare to all by expanding Medicare to cover everyone, thus ending the disgrace of the 33 million still uninsured as well as removing medical bills as the leading cause of personal bankruptcy.
  • Expanding Social Security benefits, not merely opposing cuts.
  • Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
  • Allocating $1 trillion for infrastructure repair – roads, bridges, schools, rail, water and waste disposal systems, creating millions of good paying jobs.
  • Free public college tuition, the best way to end student debt.
  • A Robin Hood tax on Wall Street speculation – to generate critically needed revenue for jobs, education, healthcare, and climate action.
  • Legalizing marijuana, a big step away from the disastrous war on drugs.
  • Banning federal funding for private prisons, to reduce a profit incentive for mass incarceration.
  • Abolishing the death penalty, which like minor drug arrests and mass incarceration has a disproportionate impact on African-Americans and Latinos.
  • Reinstating banking services in post offices, protecting public jobs as well as limiting the predatory practices of check cashing firms who target low income neighborhoods.
  • Protecting the right of workers by cracking down on rampant employer abuses against employees who seek to form unions.


Sanders’ platform directly attacks for the social and economic morass that plagues the nation, would significantly reduce racial, gender and class disparities, and encourage the social change that is at the heart the Sanders campaign.

It would also help redefine a vision of government as an champion for working people and the most disenfranchised, which is not only critical to making this a more just nation, but also the best counter to the rightwing agenda of defunding government and further enriching and empowering an already ruthless Wall Street and corporate oligarchy in the U.S.

To unpack the effects of such policies, start with income inequality.

Expanding Medicare to all, eliminating student debt, creating millions of good paying jobs through infrastructure repair, raising the minimum wage, increasing Social Security benefits and strengthening the role of unions, would all have an enormous impact on reversing income inequality and the concentration of wealth in the pockets of the top 1 percent.


On racial justice, increasing access to healthcare and education, creating and protecting public employment (where people of color have historically faced less discrimination than in the private sector), raising wages for low paid service jobs and expanding union rights all constitute a major assault on racial disparities.

That’s also true of Sanders’ proposals on marijuana, private prisons and federal sentencing reform, which would sharply cut incarceration rates. Further, Sanders has the most comprehensive platform for limiting police misconduct, as the Campaign Zero scorecard developed by Black Lives Matter activists attests.

Most of these proposals tackle inequities for women as well.

Retirement security is a case in point. A new report found that women (as well as African Americans and Latinos) are far less likely to have pensions and are more dependent on Social Security – at a time when politicians from both parties are pushing for cuts in Social Security and raising the retirement age. Nearly 60 percent of women, compared to 41 percent of men, have no retirement savings, thus the significance of Sanders’ Social Security proposal. Sanders plans on healthcare, education, and jobs would also erode gender disparities.

The Sanders’ policy agenda, along with his pledge to break up the banks and make Wall Street and the most wealthy pay for their fair share, and his push to unite a stronger social movement and achieve a political revolution are indeed a threat to the corporate brokers who have such influence in both major parties. All the schemes of the establishment wing to circle their wagons will not stop us now.

College for All – Vote Bernie Sanders

I don’t know whether to celebrate or cry.

Within a few months, I will have finally paid off the very last of my $20,000 worth of student loans for the private nursing school I graduated from in 1995. Yes, you read that right. I’ve been paying off these loans for 20 years and am now 52 years old.

But instead of finally focusing on building up my family’s savings and working toward my and my husband’s retirement, we are now facing taking on many thousands of dollars in student loans over the next eight years to put our two sons through college.

I make a good living as a unionized registered nurse in the San Francisco Bay Area. My husband also works. We don’t worry about where our next meal is coming from or keeping a roof over our heads, but we don’t live extravagant lifestyles. Most of our vacations consist of going to Michigan to visit my mother.

Yet when our eldest son was accepted into University of California Santa Cruz last year, the financial aid office told us that we were responsible for $28,000 out of pocket of his $33,000 annual tuition and living expenses. The only aid was a $5,000 loan to make up the difference.

Do you have $28,000 lying around? Because we don’t. So we did what so many families in our area are doing. We took out a second mortgage on our home. At a time when all the personal finance experts say we should be minimizing debt, we are burying ourselves in more of it than ever before. I don’t know how we will pay this debt. Nursing is extremely hard on your body; I now constantly worry that I am one work injury or layoff away from financial ruin. And goodbye, retirement!

Sadly, this second mortgage is not even enough to cover four years of college. We will have to figure out a way to pay some of it off soon in order to keep writing those $10,000 tuition checks. And our youngest son will be due to enter college just as soon as our eldest graduates.

Of course, we understand we are one of the fortunate parents who even own a house to further mortgage and who can financially support our sons’ college studies. Many talented, deserving young people are forgoing college altogether. The rest – millions of students from working-class families – are taking on enormous amounts of school debt that they may very well be saddled with for the rest of their lives. Currently, according to government statistics, more than 40 million Americans owe more than $1.3

trillion in student debt, at an average balance (as of 2012) of $24,803. Some students owe hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans. Defaults are on the rise, and many expect student loan debt to be the next bubble that bursts and implodes our economy.

It doesn’t have to be this way. If you’ve ever spoken to an exchange student from many countries in Europe, especially the Scandinavian ones, you’ll learn that college or university there is free or practically free. Students there can pursue studies they’re actually interested in since they don’t worry about how to pay for school, and they can build their adult lives much more easily after school because they’re not “servicing” their loans. These governments do not have crippled economies, but instead understand that free post-secondary education is an investment in their people and in their countries. There are so many incredibly talented people who could be contributing to our society and deserve access to a college education.

Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders has a plan to do the same for the United States. Recognizing that a college degree is as necessary for landing a living-wage job today as a high school degree was 50 years ago, Sanders has proposed that we require Wall Street to pay its fair share of taxes so that all students can attend public colleges and universities for free. It’s called the College for All Act, and he’s holding a national student town hall Wednesday night to discuss it and to hear how such a program would dramatically improve the futures of millions of American students and their families.

I am in full support of the College for All Act. It may not happen in time for our eldest son, but I have my hopes up for our youngest.

Imagine going to college and studying what you actually want, versus what you think will make the most money once you graduate. Imagine getting to actually focus on your schoolwork, network with classmates, and attend your professors’ office hours instead of rushing from part-time job to part-time job. Imagine graduating free and clear from any debt and without the pressure to take the first job that comes along because your loan payments are going to kick in.

Once that happens for my family, for yours, and for all Americans, I can finally celebrate.

Cal student organizers are holding a viewing party of Sanders’ national student town hall at 101 Morgan Hall at 6 p.m. Wednesday night. Please visit the Facebook event page to RSVP and join us!


Providence Memorial RNs, Supporters Hold Protest

To draw attention to issues that would help ensure safe patient care, registered nurses at Hospitals of Providence Memorial Campus held a protest on Wednesday, Oct. 21.

More than 30 Providence RNs came out to rally and leaflet at the protest, educating the public about staffing and equipment needs. Joining them at the rally were RNs from Las Palmas, Del Sol, Sierra and El Paso Children’s Hospital, as well as Senator Jose Rodriguez’s district chief of staff.

The nurses—who held colorful balloons to help draw attention to the issues—passed out 300 flyers and sent multiple sets of balloons into the hospital with children who had spent time talking with RNs.

“Our nurses are standing together to let the community know about how consistent staffing levels at the hospital and proper stocking of supplies are necessary to uphold top quality care for patients,” said Sandy Wakefield, RN. “Right now, these issues need to be addressed, and as patient advocates, we know it’s part of our job to speak up.”