Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/885/22076
USA: Fight the billionaire class!
This is an edited version of Seattle socialist councillor Kshama Sawant's alternative 'State of the Union' speech, following Barack Obama's address to Congress.
See www.socialistalternative.org for full version
"Sisters and Brothers, Obama's final 'State of the Union' speech was filled with optimism for the future of the United States. I share this confidence, but for very different reasons.
My confidence is based not on big corporations or the prosperity of Wall Street and its billionaires.
It is based instead on the immense potential power of American workers, of the 99%, to fight for a better society against the billionaire class, whose limitless greed threatens our society and our planet.
I have hope because of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has broken the silence on systemic racism, mass incarceration, and police brutality.
I am optimistic because of the courage shown by fast food and low-wage workers striking for a $15 minimum wage, who are winning in dozens of cities and states.
By the tens of thousands of dreamers, young undocumented immigrants, who are standing up, insisting that this is their country and are demanding full democratic rights.
By the incredible groundswell of support for Bernie Sanders and his call for a 'political revolution' against the billionaire class.
By the courageous activists who stood up against the Keystone XL pipeline and won!
Under Obama's two terms in office the Wall Street barons - who crashed the global economy and were rescued with our money - have not only walked away free, but have taken the lion's share of the recovery.
America's 20 wealthiest people - a group that could fit comfortably in one luxury jet - now own more wealth than 152 million Americans.
These same billionaires are bankrolling the political establishment of both major parties. Congress isn't regulating Wall Street. It's Wall Street that controls Congress.
This past year, the bigotry and arrogance of billionaire Donald Trump has dominated coverage of the US presidential race.
We must stand up to, and organise in the streets, against the Republican right wing's racist, sexist, and anti-worker agenda.
We need to offer a clear alternative to defend the rights of working people, the interests of the 99%.
That means we must also oppose Hillary Clinton - warmonger and 'Walmart candidate' for the Democratic Party.
Bernie Sanders is giving voice to the enormous desire for progressive change.
Many of Bernie's supporters are excited to support a self-described democratic socialist candidate.
A socialist society would put people before profits, the environment before big oil. The resources of the major corporations would be taken into democratic public ownership, rationally planned for the needs of society as a whole.
I am not a Democrat, but I would welcome it if Bernie Sanders were to win the Democratic nomination, as this would be a major blow to the political establishment and to corporate politics.
But Sanders will face huge obstacles in the undemocratic Democratic primaries, which are tilted towards Hillary Clinton.
Defeating Clinton and the Wall Street interests behind her will require Sanders' supporters to build a massive new grassroots political force capable of waging a fierce battle against the Democratic Party machine at every level of American politics.
Effectively, this means building a new left political party out of Sanders' campaign that can continue to organise and fight beyond the elections.
It is time for something new. The 99% needs its own political party that unambiguously fights for our needs.
We need to build a tool to fight back against the billionaire class - to save humanity and our planet from the failed system of capitalism - and to fight for a socialist world. Solidarity!"
In The Socialist 20 January 2016:
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