Young people recognize the big challenges that are coming up.
Obviously [my daughters] – and Michelle – have made a lot of sacrifices on behalf of my cockamamie ideas, the running for office and things.
I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim countries.
It was the labor movement that helped secure so much of what we take for granted today. The 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, family leave, health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, retirement plans. The cornerstones of the middle-class security all bear the union label.
Our job as Americans is to restore that basic bargain that says, if you work hard, if you’re willing to meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead. You can get ahead. Doesn’t matter what you look like, doesn’t matter where you come from. Our middle class, when it’s growing, when it’s thriving, when there are ladders of opportunity for people to do a little bit better each year and then make sure that their kids are doing even better than them, that’s the American dream. That’s what we got to fight for. That has to be the north star that guides everything we do.
My greatest hope is to be able to pass the same dreams and hopes and vision that I’ve been able to enjoy in my life, on to the next generation. Not just for my children – because with a mother like Michelle, my kids are going to be great – but for all children. There are too many children in this country for whom the American dream is so distant and the odds against them are so daunting.
When you’ve got a economy in which 40 percent of economic growth is happening in the financial sector, that turns out that was all an illusion, that it wasn’t growth based on real products and services, but just a bunch of paper shuffling and a house of cards, then what’s gonna emerge, at some point, is a sense of resentment, a sense that the system’s rigged, and it’s not working for ordinary people. And it’s not fulfilling the basic American dream.
Each wave of immigrants that have come in have been able to assimilate, integrate and then rise up and become part of this great American Dream.
I think we can provide common-sense approaches to the issue of illegal guns that are ending up on the streets. We can make sure that criminals don’t have guns in their hands. We can make certain that those who are mentally deranged are not getting a hold of handguns. We can trace guns that have been used in crimes to unscrupulous gun dealers that may be selling to straw purchasers and dumping them on the streets.
She is running around talking about how this is an insult to sportsmen, how she values the Second Amendment. She’s talking like she’s Annie Oakley.
But shouldn’t we also quit marketing murder as a game?
My biggest frustration so far is the fact that this society has not been willing to take some basic steps to keep guns out of the hands of people who can do just unbelievable damage. We’re the only developed country on Earth where this happens. … And it happens once a week. And it’s a one-day story. … The country has to do some soul-searching on this.
When we don’t pay close attention to the decisions made by our leaders, when we fail to educate ourselves about the major issues of the day, when we choose not to make our voices and opinions heard, that’s when democracy breaks down. That’s when power is abused. That’s when the most extreme voices in our society fill the void that we leave. That’s when powerful interests and their lobbyists are most able to buy access and influence in the corridors of power – because none of us are there to speak up and stop them.
The strongest democracies flourish from frequent and lively debate, but they endure when people of every background and belief find a way to set aside smaller differences in service of a greater purpose.