This morning, outside the historic Everett Mills in Lawrence, where the 1912 Bread & Roses strike began, our senior Senator surprised exactly no-one by announcing that she is a candidate for the Democratic nomination to be the 46th President of the United States. I am still weighing my options in this, but since it was local for me and I’ve strongly supported her elections to the Senate I went ahead and attended. When I got home I found the following email, which includes many of the key points from her speech (boldface type from the original):
I just got off the stage in Lawrence, Massachusetts, where I made a big announcement:
I’m running for President.
Let me tell you why. It starts with a story about Lawrence.
A little over 100 years ago, the textile mills in Lawrence employed tens of thousands of people, including immigrants from more than 50 countries.
Business was booming. The guys at the top were doing great. But workers made so little money that families were forced to crowd together in dangerous tenements and live on beans and scraps of bread. Inside the mills, working conditions were horrible. Children were forced to operate dangerous equipment. Workers lost hands, arms, and legs in the gears of machines.
One out of every three adult mill workers died by the time they were 25.
But one day, textile workers in Lawrence – led by women – went on strike to demand fair wages, overtime pay, and the right to join a union.
It was a hard fight. They didn’t have much. Not even a common language. But they stuck together.
And they won. Those workers did more than improve their own lives. They changed America. Within weeks, more than a quarter of a million textile workers throughout New England got raises. Within months, Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to pass a minimum wage law.
And today, there are no children working in factories. We have a national minimum wage. And worker safety laws. Workers get paid overtime, and we have a forty-hour work week.
The story of Lawrence is a story about how real change happens in America. It’s a story about power – our power – when we fight together.
Today, millions and millions of American families are also struggling to survive in a system that has been rigged by the wealthy and the well-connected.
And just like the women of Lawrence, we are ready to say enough is enough.
We are ready to take on a fight that will shape our lives, our children’s lives, and our grandchildren’s lives: The fight to build an America that works for everyone.
The truth is, I’ve been in this fight for a long time. I grew up in Oklahoma, on the ragged edge of the middle class.
When my daddy had a heart attack, my family nearly tumbled over the financial cliff. But we didn’t. My mother, who was 50 years old and had never worked outside the home, walked to Sears and got a minimum-wage job answering phones.
That job saved our house, and saved our family.
I ended up at a commuter college that cost $50 a semester. And that is how the daughter of a janitor managed to become a public school teacher, a law professor, a United States Senator, and now a candidate for President.
I’ve spent most of my life studying what happens to families like mine. Families caught in the squeeze. Families that go broke.
And what I found was that year after year, the path to economic security had gotten tougher and rockier for working families, and even tougher and even rockier for people of color.
I also found that this wasn’t an accident. It wasn’t inevitable. No. Over the years, America’s middle class had been deliberately hollowed out. And families of color had been systematically discriminated against and denied their chance to build some security.
The richest and most powerful people in America were rich, really rich – but they wanted to be even richer – regardless of who got hurt.
So, every year, bit by bit, they lobbied Washington and paid off politicians to tilt the system just a little more in their direction. And year by year, bit by bit, more of the wealth and opportunity went to the people at the very top.
That’s how, today, in the richest country in the history of the world, tens of millions of people are struggling just to get by.
This disaster has touched every community in America. And for communities of color that have stared down structural racism for generations, the disaster has hit even harder.
We can’t be blind to the fact that the rules in our country have been rigged against people for a long time – women, LGBTQ Americans, African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, immigrants, people with disabilities – and we need to call it out.
When government works only for the wealthy and well-connected, that is corruption – plain and simple. It’s time to fight back and change the rules.
First: We need to end corruption in Washington. That’s why I’ve proposed the strongest and most comprehensive anti-corruption law since Watergate.
Second: We need to put more economic power in the hands of the American people. Make it quick and easy to join a union. Make American companies accountable for their actions and raise wages by putting workers in those corporate boardrooms where the real decisions are made. Break up monopolies when they choke off competition. Take on Wall Street so that the big banks can never again threaten the security of our economy.
And when giant corporations – and their leaders – cheat their customers, stomp out their competitors, or rob their workers, let’s prosecute them.
Let’s make real investments in child care, college, Medicare for All, creating economic opportunity for families, housing, opioid treatment, and addressing rural neglect and the legacy of racial discrimination.
Stop refusing to invest in our children. Stop stalling on spending money – real money – on infrastructure and clean energy and a Green New Deal. Start asking the people who have gained the most from our country to pay their fair share.
That includes real tax reform in this country – reforms that close loopholes and giveaways to the people at the top, and an Ultra-Millionaire Tax to make sure rich people start doing their part for the country that helped make them rich.
Third: We need to strengthen our democracy. That starts with a constitutional amendment to protect the right of every American citizen to vote and to have that vote counted.
Let’s overturn every single voter suppression rule that racist politicians use to steal votes from people of color. Outlaw partisan gerrymandering – by Democrats and Republicans. And overturn Citizens United. Our democracy is not for sale.
Real democracy also requires equal justice under law. It’s not equal justice when a kid with an ounce of pot can get thrown in jail while a bank executive who launders money for a drug cartel can get a bonus. It’s not equal justice when, for the exact same crimes, African Americans are more likely than whites to be arrested, charged, convicted, and sentenced. We need criminal justice reform and we need it now.
To get all this done, we’ve got to fight side by side. We must not allow those with power to weaponize hatred and bigotry to divide us.
More than 50 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. went to Montgomery and warned us about the danger of division. He talked about how bigotry and race-baiting are used to keep black Americans divided from white Americans so that rich Americans can keep picking all their pockets.
That playbook has been around forever. Whether it’s white people against black people, straight people against gay people, middle-class families against new immigrant families – the story is the same. The rich and powerful use fear to divide us.
We’re done with that. Bigotry has no place in the Oval Office.
We come from different backgrounds, but our movement won’t be divided by our differences. It will be united by the values we share.
We all want a country where everyone – not just the wealthy – can take care of their families. Where everyone – not just the ones who hire armies of lobbyists and lawyers – can participate in democracy. Where every child can dream big and reach for opportunity. And we’re all in the fight to build an America that works for everyone.
This won’t be easy. A lot of people will tell us it isn’t even worth trying. But we will not give up.
I’ve never let anyone tell me that anything is “too hard.”
People said it would be “too hard” to build an agency that would stop big banks from cheating Americans on mortgages and credit cards. But we got organized, we fought back, we persisted, and now that consumer agency has forced these banks to refund nearly $12 billion directly to people they cheated.
When Republicans tried to sabotage the agency, I came back to Massachusetts and then ran against one of them. No woman had ever won a Senate seat in Massachusetts, and people said it would be “too hard” for me to get elected. But we got organized, we fought back, we persisted, and now I am the senior Senator from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
So, no, I am not afraid of a fight. Not even a hard fight.
Sure, there will be plenty of doubters and cowards and armchair critics this time around. But we learned a long time ago that you don’t get what you don’t fight for. We are in this fight for our lives, for our children, for our planet, for our futures – and we will not turn back.
So here is the promise I make to you today: I will fight my heart out so that every kid in America can have the same opportunity I had – a fighting chance to build something real.
This is our moment in history to dream big, fight hard, and win.
And here’s a big piece of how we’ll get it done: We’ll end the unwritten rule of politics that says anyone who wants to run for office has to start by sucking up to rich donors on Wall Street and powerful insiders in Washington.
I’m not taking a dime of PAC money in this campaign or a single check from a federal lobbyist. I’m not taking applications from billionaires who want to run a Super PAC on my behalf. And I challenge every other candidate who asks for your vote in this primary to say exactly the same thing.
We’re going to keep building this campaign at the grassroots. Right now, I’m on my way to an organizing event in New Hampshire, and in the next week, I’ll hit the road to Iowa, South Carolina, Georgia, Nevada, and California.
Thanks for being a part of this,
State Auditor Suzanne Bump and Senate President Karen Spilka were acknowledged for their attendance. Speakers included Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera, Suffolk High Sheriff Steve Tompkins, Boston City Council President Michelle Wu, Congresswoman Lori Trahan, Senator Ed Markey, and Congressman Joseph Kennedy III.