Sen. Sanders’ response to my email.

Dear Juan:
I want to take this opportunity to thank you very much for contacting my office regarding the recent tax deal struck between President Obama and the Republican leadership. Frankly, the response from Vermonters and Americans all across the country – like you – was far beyond anything we could have imagined. As of this writing, we received a total of more than 10,000 phone calls and 9,324 e-mails. More than 98 percent of the responses were in opposition.
In my view, this huge outpouring of concern was not just about this harmful bill. It went deeper than that. It was a cry from the middle class who are deeply worried about the future of our country and where this agreement, and similar type bills, will lead us in the years to come.
At a time when we have a $13.7 trillion national debt and the most unfair distribution of income in the industrialized world, why are we giving huge tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires? Is there no end to their greed? And does anyone really believe that this will only be a two-year agreement with no future extensions?
Why should we be significantly lowering rates on the estate tax when it applies only to the very, very richest people in this country, the top 0.3 percent? The richest 1 percent already owns more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. Isn’t that enough?
With the American people deeply worried about the future of Social Security, why are we diverting $112 billion from the Social Security trust fund in order to provide a ‘payroll tax holiday?’ Why is a Democratic president adopting this position, which has long been held by Republicans who want to eventually destroy Social Security by choking off its funds? With the Republicans coming to power in the House in a few weeks, why should anyone not think that this ‘one-year’ diversion will be made long-term or permanent? According to one major senior citizen organization, this action could be the beginning of the end for Social Security – the most successful anti-poverty program in the history of the United States.
It goes without saying that we must extend unemployment benefits for the millions of working families who, in the midst of this terrible recession, are about to see them expire. But why is this considered a ‘concession’ when for the last four decades Democrats and Republicans have always worked together and agreed that benefits must be continued when the unemployment rate is higher than 7.2 percent. This is not a ‘concession’ on the part of the Republicans. This is a continuation of long-held, bipartisan policy.
In conclusion, I believe that we could have reached and should reach a better agreement that represents the interests of middle class and working families of our country.
Let’s keep working together.
Sincerely,

BERNARD SANDERS

United States Senator

On Liberty and Freedom of Speech.

We all value the liberties that America offers to all of us. We value the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly etc.. we believe that these liberties should be preserved and maintained at all cost. We have gone to wars to defend these liberties, and yet, we cannot deny that our government has at times taken our rights away without a sensible rationale behind it. There are many examples of this, like for instance when FDR ordered all citizens of Japanese descend into interment camps, some of whom had fought in WWI and gotten medals for their courage and sacrifice. This is but one of the instances in which our government has abused its powers. We should also mention the irrationality of the Red Scare, during the MacArthur Era, or the erosion of our rights with the Patriot Act, where the government decided to create “Freedom of Speech Zones” violating our right embedded in the first amendment of the Constitution, you know that part that says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion , or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” We have let our government take away our rights under the assumption that it was necessary to ensure our safety, the same government bailed out AIG and many other companies under the excuse that if we do nothing the economy was going to plunge into a deep depression. The same argument was used when our citizens were sent to interment camps, or when Lincoln decided to take away Habeas Corpus during the Civil War.

The rights and liberties contained in the first amendment are the bedrock of our society. What is more intrinsicly valuable than the right to express ourselves? From this right follow many others like freedom of religion, and freedom of assembly. I doubt that any of us would be willing to live in a society where you are prohibited from talking to whomever you want, or worshiping to whatever deity you believe in (in my case, deciding not to worship at all) at any rate, we take these liberties as a given. We do not realize the danger that we would be in if our government were to take a more aggressive position, a more intrusive approach to our lives. The founding fathers knew the outlook of a society in which the government was able to do as it pleased. That is why they wrote the Bill of Rights, that is why we the King cannot take you and throw you in a jail without  due process (Guantanamo?) I don’t suspect that any of us thought that we would have to deal with these issues in the twenty first century, and yet we are. We have forgotten our spirit, we have become complacent and unwilling to fight intrusions infringing in our liberties. We need to reconsider our positions regarding our government; dissent cannot, should not, and must not be considered treason, it is through debate that we grow as a nation. Dissent is what keeps the enourmous power wielded by the government in check, which is why the government doesn’t like it. For these reasons, I think that every single square inch of the United States should be made a perpetual “Freedom of Speech” zone.Only good things can come out of that, if only all of us would engaged in a more deep analysis of our government and the way it is taking our liberties little by little we would realize that if we are not willing to fight for our rights, it is as if we don’t have those rights.