By Bernie Sanders
Last night, it took nearly two hours for the Republican debate to even briefly touch on an important issue: raising the minimum wage in this country from $7.25 an hour. The American people overwhelmingly want to raise the minimum wage, but not a single candidate embraced the idea with the same enthusiasm.
The truth is, once again, if you are one of the wealthiest people in this country, you had eleven candidates on the stage talking about your needs for almost three and a half hours. The rich are getting richer and everyone else is getting poorer, yet for what seemed like an eternity, all they could talk about was not letting women control their own bodies and defunding Planned Parenthood. If you are a veteran or military family member, there was a lot of talk about more money for war and confrontation, but no conversation about how the cost of war continues long after the last service member has returned home from overseas.
I think that’s one of the reasons our campaign is doing so well. We are willing to talk about the issues that matter in the lives of all Americans, and not just a handful of special interests and wealthy campaign contributors.
And all throughout last night’s debate, I kept thinking about some of the people I’ve met and stories I’ve received since our campaign began. Like the young mother from California who wrote me a few weeks ago saying:
"I'm 25 years old and about to have my first daughter. I want her to be able to go to college without going into insane amounts of debt. I want her to be able to get the healthcare she needs to stay happy and healthy."
Or the printing company worker in upstate New York who wrote to me saying:
"I am paid $10.00 an hour for the past 2 years in a customer service role. I have 2 sons and cannot afford the daycare bill for them by myself. I've been forced to move home with my parents as my $650 paychecks after tax are not enough to live on with paying $500 for daycare just to go to work."
Today, we live in the richest country in the history of the world, but that reality means little when people who work 40 hours a week are living in poverty, and hundreds of thousands of young people are forced to give up their dream of going to college because it is too expensive.
The truth is, I had to give up on the debate after two and a half hours. This country and our planet face enormous problems, and the Republican candidates on that stage last night barely touched upon them.
There was no discussion about racial justice, income inequality, or making college more affordable. Nothing about child poverty, parental leave, or ensuring that every American can retire with dignity. And with virtually every campaign backed by an enormous Super PAC (except Trump who is his own Super PAC), you can be sure there was no discussion of the grotesque amount of spending corrupting our political process.
And when the candidates did touch on actual issues, they were dead wrong on virtually every position they took.