Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders recently declared his candidacy for President. On May 27, I joined hundreds of people at the South Church in Portsmouth NH for a town hall meeting with the Senator. He answered a number of questions from the audience, and I was able to ask the last one, about whether he supported the $1 trillion dollar build-up of US nuclear forces. Here’s the exchange.
Judy: “Senator Sanders, I’m Judy from Canterbury NH. The United States already has thousands of nuclear weapons in its active military stockpiles, many of them on hair-trigger alert. And yet there is a plan, which the Administration apparently buys into, for a massive rebuilding of our nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles. A new fleet of submarines, heavy bombers, cruise missiles. It’ll cost a trillion dollars. Big profits for the corporations, but what do you think of this plan?”
Bernie Sanders: “Well, I’ll tell you what I think of it. It takes us right back to Carol’s question [previous question about a disabled child]. How does it happen that we have a trillion dollars available to expand our nuclear arsenal, but we don’t have the money to take care of the children in this country? What that’s about … What all of this is about is our national priorities. Who are we as a people? Does Congress listen to the military-industrial complex who has never seen a war that they didn’t like? Or do we listen to the people of this country who are hurting? And that’s what, in a sense, this campaign is about.”
Evaluating this exchange, I was gratified to have raised the issue of the nation’s outrageously dangerous, expensive nuclear weapons modernization plan. Too few people worry about nuclear weapons nowadays, although we are still in great danger of a nuclear holocaust.
I liked Senator Sanders’ strong criticism of prioritizing nuclear weapons over human needs. I loved the audience’s super-enthusiastic response.
In another setting, I would like to have gotten a more specific, detailed answer. It didn’t seem possible last night. Maybe next time.
I’ll continue raising this issue with candidates in the New Hampshire primary.