There is a framed picture hanging in the union hall of the International Longshoremen’s Association at the Port of Charleston, creased over and over again, as though someone kept in their wallet a memento they eventually realized had to be shared and mounted behind glass.
It depicts the union's 1956 Convention, hundreds of working people filling a vast ballroom. They were black and white, young and old, from the coasts and the heartland, all unified in pursuit of a better shot at a good life for themselves and their families.
I saw that photo when I visited with ILA workers on Monday morning. Decades have passed, but plenty hasn’t changed: Working people in Charleston still want a job that offers a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. And they want to know that job will still be there tomorrow, not shipped overseas or automated out of existence.
Get the think newsletter.
You might think their hope is fading. Nationwide, corporations have taken more and more in profits over the intervening years. They’re not investing in workers, they’re investing in the machines that are eliminating jobs. But the workers I met in Charleston weren’t resigned to their fates. Like their forefathers in that picture on the wall, they stood up for themselves. They fought back and won language in their collective bargaining agreement to ensure that the addition of automation doesn’t eliminate good-paying jobs.
The workers I met in Charleston weren’t resigned to their fates. Like their forefathers in that picture on the wall, they stood up for themselves. They fought back and won.
I left that visit to South Carolina uplifted — even though it was the beginning of the last week of my presidential campaign. After several months of campaigning, I have reached the point where I feel I have contributed all I can to this Democratic primary. Today, I’m ending my campaign for the presidency.
This campaign has been a profound experience for me. I saw America in full — not as it appears on Twitter and cable news, where we’re constantly shown a country hamstrung by our differences and unable to tackle the problems we face. We have more in common than we realize — and more and more of us across the country are overcoming our divisions and standing up for working people.
I visited with family farmers in Greene County, Iowa, standing up against giant agribusinesses; activists in Londonderry, New Hampshire, who worked for years and years until they elected their first Democratic state representative in many decades; Dreamers in Nevada, challenging long-held orthodoxies on immigration. Americans are changing our party and our country for the better. I’ve felt privileged to work alongside them and lift up their voices during this campaign.
They, in turn, were heartened when they heard that the progressive model they’re fighting for does indeed work — because 8.6 million Americans in New York City have proven it. Throughout history, New York City has often performed a vital role for this nation: When the country threatens to lurch in a more divisive direction, we’ve always been a beacon moving toward a more hopeful future.
This campaign has been a profound experience for me. I saw America in full — not as it appears on Twitter and cable news.
That’s why fighting for working people and ensuring that New York City remains the vanguard of progressivism will continue to be my missions.
I’m going to redouble my efforts to improve the quality of life of everyday New Yorkers, proving that policies like guaranteed paid personal time off can work on a grand scale. I’m going to continue implementing universal health care and a Green New Deal in the nation’s largest city. And I promise I’ll fight for New Yorkers and workers everywhere to ensure there’s an actual plan to protect their livelihoods from being automated out of existence.
I’ll also help ensure our party continues to be remade in the image of the activism I’ve seen all across this nation. Democrats must return to our roots as a party focused on bold solutions that speak to the concerns of working people.
If we do not, we will lose in 2020. Yes, Donald Trump lies to working people, but he at least pretends to talk to them. That may be enough for him to win, if we do not constantly make it clear that the Democrats are the party of everyday Americans in rural counties and urban centers, the coasts and the heartland.
The picture frames that will show this moment in history are still empty now. Soon enough, they’ll depict a new generation of Americans who fought for change. I’m ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with the activists I met on the campaign trail who will fill those frames, who will transform this country into a place that finally delivers the rights and privileges that working people deserve. I hope you’ll stand with us, too.