This is it. Bernie is about to speak at Liberty University's tri-weekly convocation, which is attended by the entirety of the uber-conservative, extremely religious student body. Let's watch Bernie bern down the house!
7:25 AM PT: Should start around 10:30 eastern (so, five minutes from now).
7:56 AM PT: Bernie Sanders being introduced by president of LU. Loud clapping.
7:57 AM PT: President giving a quick biography of Bernie. Praise for his time as mayor of Burlington, Vermont and his time in Congress.
7:58 AM PT: Lighthearted moment about the Liberty Flames. Bernie poses with a jersey.
7:59 AM PT: Bernie about to speak. LOUD clapping. There is definitely a fan club here.
8:00 AM PT: Bernie speaking. Starts off acknowledging differences.. then launches into differences.
"I believe in women's rights."
"I believe in gay rights and gay marriage."
8:00 AM PT: Very important for people of different views to engage in civil discourse.
8:01 AM PT: Bernie: Too much shouting and making fun of each other from both sides in politics.
8:02 AM PT: Bernie: Very important for us to try to communicate with the other side and try to reach common ground. Easy just to speak to people who agree with us. Not so easy to speak with people who disagree.
8:04 AM PT: Bernie: Loves that the university tries to focus so much on morality and its place in society.
8:04 AM PT: Bernie: Quotes Matthew 7:12:
"So in everything, do to others what you would have others do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."
8:05 AM PT: Bernie: Understands but disagrees with university on abortion and gay rights, but there are other issues of enormous consequence to our country and world that maybe, just maybe, we do NOT disagree on. Maybe we can work together on those.
8:06 AM PT: Bernie: Quoting Amos 5:24 now. Talks about treating everyone with respect and dignity.
8:07 AM PT: Bernie: Hard for anyone here to make the case that US is a just society or anything resembling a just society.
8:07 AM PT: Bernie: Talking about income inequality as an injustice.
8:08 AM PT: Bernie: Put this in the context of the BIble: We are living at a time when a handful of people have wealth beyond comprehension, tens of billions of dollars, enough to support their families for thousands of years with yachts and jet planes.
8:09 AM PT: Bernie: At the same time, millions here who can't feed their families, who can't put a roof over their heads and sleeping out in the streets, who can't find money to go to the doctor.
When we talk about morality and justice, we have to understand there IS NO JUSTICE when so few have SO MUCH and so many have SO LITTLE.
8:11 AM PT: Bernie: There is no justice when here in Virginia and Vermont, millions of people are working long hours for abysmally low wages for 7.25/hr, working hard, but can't feed their kids. Yet at the same time, most of the new income is going to the top 1%.
YOU have got to look at the morality and justice of that.
8:12 AM PT: Bernie: No justice when we see tons more millionaires and billionaires when US has highest rate of child poverty than any other major country on Earth.
Go into your hearts. How can we talk about MORALITY and JUSTICE when we turn our backs of the children in this country?
8:13 AM PT: Bernie: Are you content, do you think it's moral, when 20% of children in this country, the richest country in the world, are living in poverty? Is it acceptable when 40% of black children are living in poverty?
In my view, there IS NO JUSTICE when millions of children go to bed hungry. That is NOT MORALITY. That is not what America should be about.
8:14 AM PT: Bernie: There is NO JUSTICE when the richest 15 people in this country saw their wealth increase by 170 BILLION dollars in two years.
8:14 AM PT: Bernie: That is more than the bottom 130 million Americans.
8:15 AM PT: Bernie: That is not JUSTICE, that is a rigged economy designed to benefit the richest people at the expense of everyone else.
8:16 AM PT: Bernie: There is NO JUSTICE when thousands die because they don't have health insurance.
8:17 AM PT: Bernie: We are the only country who does not guarantee health care to all. We must change that.
When we talk about morality, all of God's children, the poor, the wretched, they have the RIGHT to go to the doctor when they are sick.
8:17 AM PT: Here comes family values :D
8:18 AM PT: Bernie: There is no JUSTICE when working class mothers are forced to separate from their mothers to go back to work because they need the money.
8:19 AM PT: Bernie: We believe in family values. But it's not a family value when the most important time of a human being's life when the US is the only major country on Earth that doesn't provide paid family and medical leave.
8:20 AM PT: Bernie: When we talk about family values, the US must provide at least 12 weeks paid medical and family leave.
8:21 AM PT: Bernie: There is NO JUSTICE when youth unemployment is at tragic levels. 51% of black youth unemployed. We have sufficient amounts of money to put more people in jail than any country on Earth. But apparently we don't have the money to provide jobs and education to young people? That's WRONG.
8:23 AM PT: Bernie: I am not a theologian. But I agree with Pope Francis that the current financial crisis came from a human crisis, the denial of the primacy of the person. We have created new idols, the worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose.
8:23 AM PT: Bernie: Pope says we need ethical reform of financial sector. Must must be made to serve, not to rule.
8:24 AM PT: Bernie: In a nation which worships not the love of brothers and the poor and the sick but the love of money, that is not the country I want to be living in.
8:25 AM PT: Bernie: Money should serve the people; the people should NOT serve money.
8:26 AM PT: Bernie: Endless discussion of the meaning of justice and morality throughout history. Here at LU, these are the kinds of discussions you have every day.
I hope that as part of that discussion, some of you will conclude that if we are honest in striving to be a moral and just society, it is imperative that we have the courage to stand with the poor and the working people and when necessary to take on powerful and wealthy people whose greed is doing this country enormous harm.
8:27 AM PT: And that's a wrap. Epic barnburner of a speech. Best speech I've ever heard so far. The man was on fire.
Huge applause from the students.
8:27 AM PT: Oh. Bernie's answering questions! Stick with us!
8:31 AM PT: Question: If you were elected president, what would you do to bring healing to the racism of our country?
Bernie: Hope everyone here understands that it's unacceptable to judge people by the color of their skin. As a nation, the truth is, we were created on racist principles, but we've come a long way. Not many Obama supporters in the crowd, but we took a huge step forward in 2008 by electing him on the basis of his ideas and not the color of his skin.
But let me also say, having just come from South Carolina, we all know to what degree racism remains alive in the US. I can't understand it. How can a sick man walk into a Bible study class, discuss the Bible, pray with people, and then take out a gun and kill people? How can there be hundreds of groups in this country whose sole reason for existence is to promote hatred?
When you have unarmed African Americans shot by police officers, something that's been going on for years, that is also institutional racism. That cries out for reform.
8:33 AM PT: Bernie: Vast majority of cops are good people who do tough job. But when a police officer who breaks a law, just like any other public official, that officer must be held accountable. Lots to do with the criminal justice system in terms of minimum sentencing, policemen who look like an army.
When we see instants of racism, politicians appealing to racism by attacking people from another country, we have got to stop that, we have to stand up to it, we have to say racism is UNACCEPTABLE.
8:34 AM PT: Dude: It's a sin issue.
Bernie: We once had racial segregation. But it took MLK and others to band together and stop it.
Dude: We aren't interested in black people sitting in the bus, we want them to own the bus. (???)
8:37 AM PT: Question: Children in the womb need our protection even more. How do you reconcile your pro-choice views with your other views on protecting the weak and vulnerable?
Bernie: I understand. But I also understand this is an area where we disagree. But it's improper for the US to tell every woman the painful and difficult choice she has to make on that issue. But often conservatives say "get govt out of our life", but on this sensitive issue, I respect a family that says we won't have abortion, but hope other people will respect the choice of women and not let the govt tell them what to do.
8:39 AM PT: Bernie: Let's take it further. Gotta be partisan for a moment: I'm the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee. But lemme tell ya what was in the Republican budget a few months ago.
When we talk about issues of children, the Republican budget threw 27 million people off health care including many children. Republican budget cut the pell grants and nutrition programs. To add insult to injury, Republicans provided 250 billion in tax breaks to the top 1%. That is not a moral budget.
8:44 AM PT: Question: On religious freedom. We're concerned about refugee crisis in Syria and religious persecution in the Middle East. How should US respond? Are we obligated to respond and step in?
Bernie: Answer is "yes", but what do you mean by 'step in'? We should work with Saudi Arabia and Europe to help stem this human tragedy. Do we have a moral responsilbity to work with other countries to help? Yes. Absolutely yes.
But here's where it gets tricky. All of you know that the Middle East is a quagmire. I voted against war in Iraq. I did so because I was worried about instability it would bring.
I'm the former chairman on veteran's affairs. We should provide all the health care that our veteran's needs (major applause).
But the cost of war is something far greater than most know. Before we go to war, we must be certain we've explored all other options. People may not know this, but 500,000 with PTSD and thousands have died and been injured. A nation like the US must use all opportunities to resolve conflict without war. War should be the LAST RESORT.
8:46 AM PT: Question: How can we pray for you?
Bernie: I want prayers not just for me. Pray for our country and how we can bring our people together, and how we can create a beautiful country where everyone has health care, where everyone can go to college, where there is no child poverty.
Dude: Let us pray about that now.
8:48 AM PT: And that really is a wrap now. Yowza. Great time with Bernie!