Bill Bradley in The Journey From Here


On Principles & Values: Presidential campaign was about telling the truth

My campaign was based on the radical premise that you can say what you really believe and win. What I tried to do was offer a new politics-a new politics that isnít polluted by money; a politics in which leaders speak from their core convictions; a politics that is about lifting people up, not tearing opponents down; a politics that reflects the best of what is in us as Americans; a politics that inspires all of us to try to live up to our potential as citizens.
Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p. 14 Aug 15, 2000

On Budget & Economy: Prosperity is a means to an end; goal is solving problems

We live at a time of unprecedented prosperity. But what are we doing with that prosperity? After eight years of a booming economy, are the important things-our health care system, our schools, our community lives, our family lives, our childrenís future- truly better? A robust economy isnít an end in itself; itís a mean to an end. We can now address problems such as inadequate health care, mediocre public education, and entrenched poverty-problems that, if we solve them, will make us stronger as a nation
Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p. 19 Aug 15, 2000

On Health Care: Health care should assure Americans that they are cared for

Today, forty-four million Americans lack access to basic health care, and many more with insurance worry about being able to see their preferred doctors. I donít believe that itís in our national character to let so many men, women, and children live with the fear that they are one serious illness or injury away from financial ruin.

Health care serves as a foundation of our individual and shared lives. Health care is about assuring working people that they wonít be locked into jobs they dislike because of their insurance coverage. Health care is about assuring uninsured Americans that they wonít have to wait until an ailment is so bad that they have to rush to the emergency room. Health care is about assuring all Americans that their race or gender or income or address wonít be a factor in determining whether they have a chance for a healthy start in life. Health care is about strengthening America by strengthening each one of us-one person, one family, one community at a time.

Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p. 24 Aug 15, 2000

On Health Care: Mandatory insurance for children, at birth, federally paid

When we enacted Medicare, we made a bold commitment to senior citizens. We need to make a similar commitment to our children. To fulfill this commitment, every child should be enrolled in a health insurance program from the moment of birth. Just as new parents must fill out a birth certificate and a Social Security form before leaving the hospital, they should also be required to enroll their newborn in one of the many childrenís health insurance plans. Children who slip through the cracks could be enrolled at their first point of contact with the health care system, at day care, or upon entry to school.

I believe the federal government should pay all or part of the health insurance costs for children in families with incomes under $50,000 a year. Thatís about 54% of all children, including millions from middle-income families who worry constantly about medical costs.

Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p. 30 Aug 15, 2000

On Civil Rights: Quest for racial unity is a defining moral issue

The quest for racial unity remains the defining moral issue of our time. Itís one of the reasons I first ran for public office. The work I did helping expand Medicaid for women and children who are poor, to raise the Earned Income Tax Credit, to reduce infant mortality, to assure child support enforcement, to protect federal aid to school districts that serve the poor, and to support every piece of civil rights legislation that came through the Senate all flowed from my convictions about racial unity.
Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p. 49 Aug 15, 2000

On Civil Rights: Whites should recognize ďwhite skin privilegeĒ

White indifference comes in many forms. It can be indifference to the suffering of others, or what Martin Luther King, Jr. called ďthe silence of good people.Ē It can be indifference to the need for racial healing. It can also be the inability of whites to understand for no reason other than the color of their skin.

White skin privilege is the flip side of discrimination. While discrimination is negative overt, white skin privilege is negative and passive. Itís not something whites intentionally do. Rather itís a great blind spot that most whites are unaware of.

When I was a rookie in the NBA, I got a lot of offers to do ads, even though I wasnít the best player. My black teammates got none. I felt the offers were coming to be because I was white. Thatís white skin privilege. If youíre white and your kids are stopped by police at night, you donít fear theyíll be mistreated because of the color of their skin.

Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p. 55-56 Aug 15, 2000

On Budget & Economy: Define national interest in human terms, not economic terms

This country has been good at building an economic infrastructure. But for far too long weíve neglected our social infrastructure. Weíre economically healthy, but are we socially or spiritually healthy? What chance does one family have against the global economic order that requires companies to downsize in order to compete? The new global economy doesnít care about your dinner hour, or that you have too little time to help with the kidsí homework. The virtuous circle for national prosperity can be a vicious circle for parents.

We need to look ahead to our national interests in human terms, not just economic ones. A prosperity that fails to bolster families is hollow and unsustainable. Our work life and our family life should be in sync with each other and not in fierce competition.

Nations are judged not by their gross national product, but by how they care for the weakest and most helpless of their citizens, especially their children, and how they create contexts in which families can thrive

Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p. 67-70 Aug 15, 2000

On Families & Children: Government partnership creates family infrastructure

One way to convert our system into one that will allow working parents to breathe a little easier is to create partnerships among the federal government, the states, and communities that will improve early care and education for children five and under. [The partners] will determine how federal money can best be spent. Some communities may decide to use the funds to upgrade skills of workers in child care centers, or provide subsidies to increase access to child care, or increase the number of child care slots available. In all cases, the role of the state government would be to perform rigorous audits to assure accountability. States would be asked to march the federal contribution.

Everyone understands that government doesnít raise good kids-parents & communities & neighbors do. But government, acting as a catalyst and in partnership with parents and communities, can provide the kind of supporting infrastructure that families need.

Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p. 74-75 Aug 15, 2000

On Government Reform: Political money eats away at fabric of democracy

Money is to politics what acid is to cloth-it eats away at the fabric of democracy. Democracy doesnít have to be a commodity that is bought and sold. Most politicians enter politics to do good, not to ask for donations. Thereís no reason we canít have a political process in which everyoneís voice can be heard, in which dissent is respected, and in which candidates run on the strength of their ideas, not the weight of their wallets.
Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p. 84-86 Aug 15, 2000

On Gun Control: Money determines gun laws instead of child safety

Every day [handguns] kill twelve children in America. 72% of Americans favor mandatory licensing of handguns, but Congress seems to find any excuse not to do something about it-even going so far as to pass bills by day, then quietly kill them by night. On the face of it, this doesnít make any sense-until you notice the fact that in 1998, the National Rifle Association gave nearly $2 million to various members of Congress, 83% going to Republican candidates.
Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p. 87 Aug 15, 2000

On Government Reform: Replace soft money with public campaign finance

The solution is to make money much less important in the electoral process, and to make ideas and experience count for more. No reform of the regulated, above-ground system will matter until we close down this murky, unregulated underground by prohibiting soft-money contributions to national party committees & banning state committees from spending their soft money to affect federal elections. All it would take is committed leadership & an insistent public to turn the soft money ban into law.
Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p. 88-90 Aug 15, 2000

On Technology: We gave away spectrum; give back free campaign air time

Another way to reduce the role of money in politics is offering free airtime. TV networks have been granted one of the most valuable public trusts in the history of our nation-the right to use, for private gain, the public airwaves. Congress just gave broadcasters-gave, not auctioned off-a large portion of the new digital spectrum, which will be used in high-definition TV. This is a public trust weíve handed them, and with a public trust like that comes public obligations.
Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p. 91 Aug 15, 2000

On Technology: Internet gives people control over political information

Web sites are interactive-you can talk both to candidates and to your neighbors. The Internet provides as much or as little information as a citizen needs. Unlike broadcast media, the Internet gives people a measure of control over what they take in. With e-mail, a campaign can tailor information to the voterís interest and provide regular updates. After building and updating the Web site, communicating the information to millions of people is virtually free.
Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p. 92 Aug 15, 2000

On Government Reform: Make voter registration easier

I spent many years working to make it easier to register to vote. Advance voter registration is the last barrier in the long row of barriers blocking participation. Why should people have to jump through hoops to exercise their most important right as citizens? In an age of computers, anyone should be able to walk into a voting place, demonstrate proof of identity, and case a vote that very day.
Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p. 94-95 Aug 15, 2000

On Jobs: Raise minimum wage now; index it for later

Almost 10.5 million workers earn between $5.15 an hour and $6.15 an hour. 32% of them are working parents, 60% are women, and almost a million are working mothers. The minimum wage should be increased by $1 over two years, and future increases should be indexed to the median wage. This way, low-wage workers wonít need an act of Congress to keep up with the rest of America in good economic times.
Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p.110-11 Aug 15, 2000

On Families & Children: Enforce child support more

When fathers want to help, the system discourages it. Mothers on welfare are required to turn over their claim to child support to the state. The state then collects child support, then keeps most of it to reimburse itself for welfare assistance. Ensuring that support paid by a parent goes to the child instead of the state would rectify this situation.
Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p.111-12 Aug 15, 2000

On Education: University partnerships: get teachers into high-need schools

One of the strongest predictors of how students perform on national tests isnít class size or per-pupil spending, itís the presence of a qualified teacher, a teacher who is fully certified and has majored in the subject he or she teaches.

The country will need 200,000 new teachers each year for the next 10 years. But itís hard for schools to recruit good new teachers, especially in low-income urban and rural areas. To confront this urgent reality, we should establish partnerships between universities and high-need schools, partnerships that will train tens of thousands of high-quality teachers each year as well as improve the effectiveness of teachers currently in those schools. One aspect would be loan forgiveness and scholarship programs that provide a financial incentive for 60,000 college graduates a year to become teachers at public schools in disadvantaged areas. Each eligible student would be get loan forgiveness of $5,000 per year, or $7,500 in critical-shortage subject areas.

Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p.113-14 Aug 15, 2000

On Education: More info on schools so parents can choose what is best

A way to hold schools accountable is to enable parents to send their children to another school if the current one isnít meeting their needs. As a condition of receiving federal aid, states should allow students to transfer out of a low-performing public school to attend a higher-performing public school.
Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p.115-16 Aug 15, 2000

On Welfare & Poverty: Reducing teen pregnancy will reduce poverty

If youíre the child of an unmarried teen mother who doesnít graduate from high school, you have a 79% chance of ending up in poverty. Reducing teen pregnancy implies a reduction in poverty. That begins with young men realizing that having a child is a lifetime commitment. It also means helping support the children by creating homes where young women who donít have caring adults in their lives can live in a nurturing adult environment during their pregnancy and the first year of their childís life.
Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p.118 Aug 15, 2000

On Budget & Economy: Fiscal restraint, open markets, invest in future

    These are the policies that must be continued and about which there is a rough political consensus:
  1. Pursuing a prudent fiscal policy, meaning a federal budget balanced or in surplus and the lowest possible tax rates for the highest number of people.
  2. Following a sound monetary policy. Inflation targeting must remain the Fedís central objective, but alongside it should also be sensitivity to unemployment.
  3. Keeping our markets open and capital flowing freely throughout the world. An open world economy means more potential customers for American products.
  4. Investing in education and research.
  5. Promoting the growth and dynamism of our businesses by keeping the focus on shareholder value. That translates into public policies that prevent fraud, support efficiency, reward performance, and appreciate the importance of bringing together technological genius and willing capital.
Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p.125-30 Aug 15, 2000

On Free Trade: Open trade raises prosperity and increases freedom

The passage of NAFTA and GATT increased US export markets by reducing tariff and trade barriers globally and put a damper on US inflation by allowing entry of lower-cost imports. Open trade gives people the freedom to buy whatever they want, no matter what country the goods come from; it raises the income of the worldís poorest nations, thereby allowing them to make investments in public heath and education; it generates the wealth that in part can be used to clean up the environment- in short, it raises living standards and increases freedom. A rule-based multilateral trading system also provides hundreds of million of people with a stake in maintaining global security. For the US, open trade means the likelihood of continued prosperity. What the world needs and wants are the things we do best.
Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p.126-27 Aug 15, 2000

On Environment: Protecting environment is ultimate enlightened self-interest

Environmental ills at home-smog, deforestation, the loss of wetlands-as well as the degradation of vast areas of the developing world remind us that protecting the environment is the ultimate enlightened self-interest. A patient and persistent dialogue between thoughtful environmentalists and farsighted companies will allow us to reach a consensus on how to expand trade and protect the environment at the same time.
Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p.138 Aug 15, 2000

On Free Trade: WTO is first step in worldwide economic system

The World Trade Organization is only a first step in building a foundation for a stable worldwide economic system. It will consist of a series of strategic economic partnerships and institutions (including a reformed International Monetary Fund and World Bank) designed to promote global security and economic health as well as other non-economic objectives such as orderly immigration, efficient criminal prosecution, and a clean and healthy environment.
Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p.138 Aug 15, 2000

On Foreign Policy: Increase foreign aid; US is last per capita

Our greatest contribution as a nation wonít be a large increase in foreign assistance, although we could certainly afford to increase that assistance since on a per-capita basis we rank last among developed nations in helping the worldís poorest nations. At a minimum, we should provide debt relief for them and pay our backlogged United Nation dues. More important, we need to help forge effective partnerships among governments and the private sector to try to lift up societies around the world, to attack deadly and debilitating diseases, to enable poor nations to build schools and roads, and to encourage these nations to develop democratic institutions and the rule of law, which is the first prerequisite for membership in the global middle class.
Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p.139 Aug 15, 2000

On Foreign Policy: Freedom Exchange Act: Funding for people-to-people contact

In the last decade, the reach of non-governmental organizations has spanned national borders and will do so increasingly in the Internet age. Such people-to-people contacts deepen mutual understanding and make it harder for demagogues to misrepresent the motives of other countries. When I was in the Senate, I championed the Freedom Exchange Act, which brought many thousands of high school students from Russia and the former Soviet Republics to live with American families for up to a year, to absorb the meaning of American democracy, free enterprise, and civic involvement. Unfortunately, funding for the program is now nearly 60% lower than it was in the mid-1990ís. Shortsightedly, we seem to be saying that we no longer have to create bonds of trust among individual Americans and the different peoples of the former Soviet Union.
Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p.139-40 Aug 15, 2000

On Foreign Policy: Donít provoke Russia; no more NATO expansion

In 1996, we needlessly revived Russian security concerns by rushing to expand NATO beyond a reunified Germany. At a minimum, we have to find a better way to accommodate those additional Eastern European countries that are negotiating for E.U. membership, but without further expansion of NATO. While the newly independent nations of the former Soviet Union need to be integrated into the international political and economic system, NATO should remain a defensive alliance and not be used to lead the European Unionís eastward expansion.

In short, our policy toward Russia over the past ten years has contributed to a situation in which the worldís only other nuclear superpower is coming apart at the seams, a situation that makes the world a far more dangerous place than it needs to be. As a result, the current administration is the first U.S. government since the 1960ís that has failed to conclude a nuclear arms treaty.

Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p.144 Aug 15, 2000

On Foreign Policy: No reason to think of China as an enemy

China is the fastest-rising power in the world. Thereís no reason to think of China as an enemy. It is evolving into a more open society as it adopts the rules and attitudes of a market economy. We believe that democracy will provide a better future for Chinaís people.

Now that weíve granted China normal trading relations on a permanent basis, weíre in a position to open its markets not only to American products, but also to American ideas. Accepting Chinaís membership in the WTO will be good for economic and political stability world-wide. We acknowledge that there is one China, but we should resolutely oppose the Peopleís Republic of Chinaís use of military threats to impose control over Taiwan. The resolution of the Taiwan issue depends on patience, negotiation, and democratization, not coercion or threat. Itís not within our power or our rights to dictate the pace or patterns of Chinaís political development, but when China oppresses its own people, we will not be silent.

Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p.145-46 Aug 15, 2000

On War & Peace: Rely on UN peacekeepers when no vital US interest

One means of paying attention to smaller countries that have sometimes been overlooked is by revitalizing US leadership in the United Nations. The UN is committed to the goal of ensuring that all nations share in economic, social, & scientific progress. It delivers humanitarian assistance to the victims of wars and natural disasters. It provides a mechanism through which the US can help in dozens of conflicts around the world in which our vital interests arenít directly involved but where we feel a more imperative to respond. Working with the UNís diplomacy and development arms, we can prevent minor differences from escalating into wars. When conflicts do break out, UN peacekeepers should play a role in defusing and settling them. Without giving up our sovereignty, we can help the UN with better training and better command and control in order to develop more effective peacekeeping forces.
Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p.147 Aug 15, 2000

On Energy & Oil: Prefers filling oil reserves to developing synfuels

Carter administration panelists argue that energy prices were rising because the world was running out of petroleum and that we should wean ourselves from foreign oil by developing substitutes like synthetic fuels from shale or tar sands. However, I soon reached the conclusion that it wasnít the putative oil shortage but the dependence on insecure sources in the Persian Gulf that made us vulnerable. The right response wasnít to drain the taxpayers and assault the environment with an exorbitant synfuels program, but to diversify our foreign sources of oil and to buy insurance in the form of an ample petroleum reserve in this country. I prepared an amendment to an appropriation bill ordering the US government to resume filling the reserve. The reserve enjoys the support of both parties to this day, and we now have nearly 60 daysí worth of oil in storage.
Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p.148-49 Aug 15, 2000

On Homeland Security: Make post-Cold War choices: pay personnel, not for bases

The militaryís mission is simple: to fight and win the nationís wars. It must be capable of dealing quickly and decisively with threats to American territory as well as to regional peace and stability. These days, weíre often called to do more than that. Unless we upgrade our standard of living in the military and offer more opportunities for training, weíll lose out in our efforts to recruit talented men and women into our armed forces, a hidden danger to our military preparedness that is just as important as the next generation of aircraft.

We can do these things and still hold the line on defense spending, but it requires us to make hard choices: choices between oversized base structures and modern, ready forces; between wasteful, outdated personnel practices and contemporary ones; between yesterdayís Cold War weapons systems and tomorrow superior technologies.

Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p.154-56 Aug 15, 2000

On Homeland Security: Strengthen Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

The first line of defense is to come to a better understanding with Russia, which is teeming with too many weapons and too many underpaid scientists. The second is to strengthen international treaties, including the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The third is to revitalize national intelligence efforts and turn them more exclusively toward these weapons [of mass destruction] and those who build them. That means seeking new ways to cope with one inevitable by-product of more open borders: technology transfers that enable those who threaten the peace to create more modern and dangerous weapons. Progress on this front is possible only through cooperative efforts on the part of all the major trading nations, including Russia and China.
Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p.157 Aug 15, 2000

On Principles & Values: The journey from here is to change the world

You donít have to give up what you truly believe so as not to offend power, for real power lies within each of you-the power to mobilize an army of citizens who want to change the world. Thatís what I tried to do in my campaign. I lost. But all of you donít have to lose; you can triumph over ignorance and spitefulness, corruption and greed.

When I think of my own future, I feel the presidential campaign was part of a longer journey. To raise peopleís living standards worldwide, to reduce racial and ethnic tensions, to acknowledge that weíre better than we think as citizens and human beings-this is where Iíll try to continue my efforts to advance our collective humanity.

It heartens me to know that Iím not alone. With me are millions of people from all walks of life who are prepared to act from principled common sense and continue the journey from here.

Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p.165-66 Aug 15, 2000

On Technology: Internet gives people control over political information

Televisionís dominance of political communication is far from over, even though the Internet is beginning to play a larger role in politics. Unlike TV, the Internet isnít exclusive; in the 2000 presidential campaign, my web site didnít push aside anyone elseís [like TV ads would]. Web sites are also interactive. Most important, the Internet provides as much or as little information as a citizen needs; people who came to my web site could look at a 30-second video clip if thatís all they wanted, or they could read my speeches and press releases. Unlike broadcast media, the Internet gives people a measure of control over what they take in. With e-mail, a campaign can tailor information to the voterís interest and provide regular updates. And it can do all these things at very little cost: After building and updating the web site, communicating the information to millions of people is virtually free. Once we bridge the digital divide, the Internet becomes a truly democratic tool for everyone.
Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p. 92 Sep 9, 2000

On Principles & Values: The journey from here to change the world

To all these young people who believe that America can be just, I say, Never give up and never sell out. You donít have to give up your idealism to be successful in America. You donít have to become complacent. To the contrary, you should be angry with the state of our democracy, the conditions of poverty, the absence of universal health care, the continuation of racism; and if you get angry enough and are smart enough and work hard enough, you can change things. You donít have to give up what you truly believe so as not to offend power, for real power lies within each of you-the power to mobilize an army of citizens who want to change the world. Yes, want to change the world! Thatís what I tried to do in my campaign. I lost. But all of you donít have to lose; you can triumph over ignorance and spitefulness, corruption and greed. You can take the high road and succeed, if wnough of you take it together.
Source: The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley, p.165 Sep 9, 2000

The above quotations are from The Journey From Here, by Bill Bradley.
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Page last updated: Apr 16, 2013