Democratic Presidential Candidate and US Senator Bernie Sanders's (I-VT) voice was raw in conviction as he detoured from his standard stump speech and began an hour-long, impassioned oration with a radical suggestion for bringing accountability to the Flint, Michigan water crisis:
If the local government cannot protect those children, if the state government cannot protect those children, then the federal government better get in and do the right thing.
Shortly before his address on Monday, February 15, 2016, Sanders met with seven individuals from Flint, Michigan who continue to be hurt by lead poisoning as a result of the water crisis in their city. During his first campaign visit to Michigan, he questioned whether we should settle for small ideas or whether we have the courage to stand up for "Yooooge" ideas.
The impact of that meeting was voluble as he delivered a commanding speech to a standing-room-only crowd of 9,400 at the Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The line to get into the venue was so long that one person drove for 2.5 minutes before coming to its end:
As with his other proposals, his emotional pleas were followed by practical solutions. In the case of the Flint, MI water crisis, Sanders called for the resignation of Governor Rick Snyder when news of this tragedy first entered the public discourse one month ago. Last night he moved beyond accountability and offered a sensible solution to a problem that was incomprehensibly exacerbated by the choices and inactions of government officials who, instead of taking care of our citizens, caused them egregious harm.While having the federal government intervene seems so common-sense, it is quite radical in today's political climate that focuses on ceding power to the states, balking at any mention of "big government." In a pre-emptive move, Sanders criticized a government that has money for war but not for Flint.
The implications of a greater federal role in Flint extend beyond Michigan. Republicans would be quick to condemn an increased role they claim would result in over-regulation by the federal government.
However, because sacrificing a poor, mostly minority community might be fiscally acceptable to some states, the federal government must protect the interests and well-being--and in this case, the very lives--of all its citizens. Erin Brockovich joined Sanders in his call for environmental justice and a "government [that] work[s] for ordinary people, and not just the largest corporations that contribute unlimited amounts of money to fund political campaigns."
As has clearly been exemplified by the unrelenting reporting of Rachel Maddow, giving the states more autonomy in deciding the health and welfare of its citizens could result in fueling certain political agendas that have shown to cause harm to our citizens. A greater federal role is a dam in keeping these waters of such local governments contained.
This practical solution is the very reason that Sanders will succeed with his political revolution. He will deliver on his proposed programs and plans, which will restore America's democracy while bringing greater prosperity to the marginalized, rebuilding the middle class so that working families can thrive once again.
|Bernie Sanders in Ypsilanti, Michigan on February 15, 2016|
Special thanks to my dear friend Sarah Dubinsky, Esq., who contributed greatly to this article.
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Disclaimer: I am an active supporter of Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign.