Photo by Marisa Losciale (CC-BY)
Approximately 1,500 Ulster County residents and college students showed off their support for Zephyr Teachout during her Friday morning rally in New Paltz, New York. Special guest, ex-presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, endorsed Teachout at the rally.
“I would not be here today if I were not deeply impressed with the person that Zephyr is and the campaign that she is running,” said Sanders. Sanders spoke on topics concerning the waning economy, increasing income inequality, and the high cost of a college education.
“These are difficult days for our country, I think you all know that,” said Sanders. “We are looking at a time when the middle class in this country is disappearing, when we have a grotesque level of income and wealth inequality.” Sanders underscored the fact that even though the United States is a well-developed country, it has one of the highest child-poverty rates in the world.
“At the same time as the very, very, rich get richer, we have millions of young people trying to deal with outrageous levels of student debt,” stated Sanders. Sanders believes forgiving the trillions of dollars owed in student loans would be a beneficial investment for our country.
“You all know that we live in a competitive, global economy and we need as a nation the best educated workforce in the world. Our job—and Zephyr understands this—is to make public colleges and universities tuition-free, not to saddle young people with oppressive debts they’ll be forced to pay off for decades,” said Sanders.
Sanders then shifted his speech to comment on the state of our nation during this election, “The great crisis of all the crises we face is that, in many respects, our country is marching toward oligarchy.” Sanders fears this small, powerful, like-minded group of people will buy the U.S. government and in turn, control our economy.
“This is not some academic abstract idea, it is happening in this congressional district at this moment,” stated Sanders. “Wall Street billionaires are pouring in substantial sums of money to Zephyr’s opponent. The two billionaires have already put in half a million dollars each. What kind of democracy are we living in when billionaires think they can buy elections?”
It’s the moneyed's opposition that compels Sanders to endorse Zephyr Teachout as well as its fundraising.
“Zephyr, on the other hand is raising money the old-fashioned way,” said Sanders. “I was pretty proud our average contribution for the presidential campaign was $27. Turns out that Zephyr’s [average] contribution is less than that: $19. So I want you to think about what that means. One candidate gets tens of thousands of contributions averaging $19 and the other gets two major donations of half a million dollars a piece,” Sanders stated.
Prior to introducing Teachout to the stage, Sanders reminded the crowd that both he and Teachout had previously voted no to NAFTA. Leading into his comment on how they both stand in similar positions today, Sanders stated that “we were right then, and we’re right now to say ‘no’ to the Trans Pacific Partnership.”
“They’ve got billionaires, we’ve got people!” Teachout exclaimed as she took the stage.
Soon after, thanking Bernie Sanders for the endorsement, Teachout got right to business. Although Sanders gave an empowering speech, touching on all the selling points of Teachout’s campaign, she decided to speak in length about her environmental proposals and plans to bring jobs back to the Hudson Valley and Upstate New York.
Teachout’s concerns—pollution, oil spills, toxic waste and global warming—have never been more evident.
“I am gonna stand up against the big polluters who want to poison our waterways, and make sure we protect our water and our air,” said Teachout. “We’re not going to let these anchorages go into the Hudson River, we’re not going to let fracked gas in our state, and we’re not going to let the polluters get away without paying their fair share.”
Alongside her efforts to make New York a more environmentally-conscious state, Teachout also plans to bring jobs back to the area.
“We’ve got to be making things in America again,” Teachout pledged. “We’ve got to be assembling iPhones in Kingston. I don’t want to see our Apple [products] shipped to Texas where they get sliced up, and then shipped back here. Let’s slice ‘em up right here! I’m going to be fighting against these disastrous trade deals, and for bringing jobs home.”
Throughout the speech, Teachout referenced her potential tenure in Congress as not being independent from those who support her. “When I go to Washington, I’m bringing all of your voices with me!”
Teachout closed her speech with a quote from former New York governor and 26th President Teddy Roosevelt: “‘To dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task’—and that’s what we’re doing in this campaign.”