SPEECHES


The promise of the American Revolution runs deep. Yet it does not run as deep as the promise of the Kingdom of God. And it is the relationship between America and the Kingdom that I want us to think about tonight. I intend to argue that if the promise of America is to be saved from the dangers that now confront us—as a country and as a world—the promise of the Kingdom must be articulated anew, perhaps in a language more acceptable to secular folk, and maybe even to some atheists, so that the dynamic tension between America and the Kingdom that strengthened the American experiment at the founding, and that helped renew it at numerous critical junctures in our past, can be restored and redeemed… America and the Kingdom (621 downloads)



The first effort on the part of the United States to promote democracy among a foreign people by more than the authority of example, and the persuasiveness of idealistic rhetoric, was horrific in its outcome. Writing to the Cherokees in 1796, President George Washington urged that they study with the advice and material assistance of a federal agent, “those things which are found good by the white people, and which your situation will enable you to adopt.” He particularly emphasized intensive farming, but also mentioned the workings of the American government and stressed that “the experiment made with you may determine the lot of many nations. If it succeeds, the beloved men of the United States will be encouraged to give the same assistance to all the Indian tribes within their boundaries.” The Unconstitutionality of Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (368 downloads)

Hi, I’m Steve Schwartzberg and I’m running for Congress in the Illinois 5th district. I am grateful for the opportunity to share some of my background and some of my reasons for running for Congress. The short version of my background is that I’m a historian—Yale PhD 1996—a scholar of the history of American foreign relations. The short version of why I’m running is that I strongly supported Bernie Sanders in the primaries at a time when the incumbent, Mike Quigley, was supporting Hillary Clinton: Bernie carried the 5th district and I believe I would do a better job representing the views of a majority of its voters… Stump Speech (485 downloads)

Steve Schwartzberg
at the College of Complexes
13 January 2018

Hi, I’m Steve Schwartzberg, and I am running for Congress in the 5th District as a Bernie Sanders supporter. I am a lifelong social democrat who thinks that it is time for a moral as well as a political revolution in this country.  My training is as an historian—Yale PhD 1996—a scholar of the history of American foreign relations who believes that we can draw from our common past to build a shared future… College of Complexes (356 downloads)

NEWSLETTERS


  • Connector.

    “The Fight Against Cherokee Removal” – A Talk at DePaul University on April 18th – Text

    The fight to try to prevent what became the Trail of Tears and Death was a closely fought battle in the 1830s. The final vote on the “Removal Bill” in the House of Representatives in 1830 was 102 to 97. When the issue reached the Supreme Court in 1831 everything came down to the views of one man—the Chief Justice, John Marshall. I’ll take about half of the next ninety minutes to review the history, the politics, the law, and some of the present-day implications of what was involved in this fight, before opening things up to Q&A and discussion. I want to stress at the outset that in the past 187 years, until I asked the question in my research, no one seems to have considered whether Associate Justices Smith Thompson’s and Joseph Story’s dissenting opinion in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia could have been dramatically strengthened by a better knowledge of the jurisprudence of the greatest jurist among the framers of the Constitution, James Wilson. I hope to convince you not only that this is the case, but that, understood properly, our constitutional law itself requires a revolution in our relations with the native peoples of America. more …

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    A New Freedom Budget – Text

    “Poverty is not created by poor people,” notes the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Muhammad Yunus: “It’s created by the system we built. Poor people are like a bonsai tree. You take the best seed from the tallest tree in the forest, but if you put it in a flower pot to grow, it grows only a meter high. There’s nothing wrong with the seed. The problem is the size of the pot. Society doesn’t give poor people the space to grow as tall as everybody else. This is the crux of the matter.”[1] The simple fact is that we would all be better off if poor people had the same opportunities as everybody else. more …

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    The Opioid Crisis and the Moral Revolution

    In an essay in New York magazine titled “The Poison We Pick,” Andrew Sullivan observes: “This nation pioneered modern life. Now epic numbers of Americans are killing themselves with opioids to escape it.” We need not only a political revolution capable of ending the War on Drugs in this country, but a moral revolution capable of transforming our relations with one another. more …

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    On Social Democracy and the Illinois 5th District

    The purpose of the social democratic movement is to claim the future rather than avenge the past. The incumbent in the 5th District, Mike Quigley, is focused on investigating Russian intervention in the 2016 election rather than on the future. I have no reason to doubt that Trump colluded in this intervention—he publicly called for such intervention on July 27, 2016—but even if there is enough evidence to force impeachment, it is highly unlikely that two-thirds of the Senate will vote to convict. The result will be to rile Trump’s base—which already loves to present him as a “victim” of the “deep state”—leave him in office, with all the powers of incumbency, and make the hard work we need to undertake to win in 2020 more difficult. That work centers on advancing the kinds of social democratic programs and policies that Bernie Sanders has championed for a lifetime and that I have sought to advance in my campaign: a single-payer universal healthcare system in which healthcare is a right and not a privilege, a Marshall Plan for America of massive investment in our nation’s infrastructure and a commitment to “decarbonize” our economy, a Freedom Budget for the 21st century that seeks to begin to abolish poverty with investments in public education, housing, job creation, and job training. In addition, we must respect the national sovereignty of the native peoples of America, and indeed of all the peoples of the world, and seek to advance the global common good and not merely the “interests” of the United States. It is that kind of social democratic platform that will win in 2020 and which everyone who is seeking to be elected as a Congressperson—and claims to be a progressive—should be championing. more …

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    On Marilynne Robinson's "What Are We Doing Here?"

    Marilynne Robinson’s latest book-a meditation on religion and politics, science and civilization-is a gift to the nation worthy of being discussed in congressional campaigns across the country. Perhaps best known for her novel, Gilead, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005, Robinson was interviewed by President Barack Obama in 2015 for the New York Review of Books. In her latest work she argues that we have needlessly obscured the contributions that the Puritans’ generous love, and their commitment to social reform, made to our civilization by adopting a mythology about them that falsely presents them as particularly theocratic and as oppressively prudish about sex. Doing so, she suggests, removes vitally needed understandings of where we have come from as a civilization as well as where we should aspire to be going as a nation more …

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    On the Moral and Political Revolution

    Sometimes one has to aim at what seems impossible in order to achieve what is possible and this is one of those times. We are in a battle for the soul of the country between competing visions of what our nation is all about and what will best serve to improve our common life together. We can only win that fight by a successful moral and political revolution—by rediscovering the most progressive ideals of America’s founding generation and building on the work of the many generations that have since sought to see those ideals more fully realized. more …

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    Religious Kinship and Mideast Peace

    Earlier this month, I heard a wonderful broadcast on a National Public Radio program hosted by Krista Tippet and featuring Rabbi Sarah Bassin, who serves at Temple Emmanuel in Beverly Hills, and Imam Abdullah Antepli, the first Muslim chaplain at Duke University. The warmth and friendship among the speakers was evident as was their affinity for each other’s faith. There was a sense of “religious kinship” among them. I encourage you to listen to the podcast and especially to Imam Antepli’s condemnation of anti-Semitism among Muslims and Rabbi Bassin’s condemnation of Islamophobia among Jews. As a Christian, I am keenly aware of both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia among my fellow Christians and very much agree with Imam Antepli that such hate and fear undermine any effort to build a moral community; a community that by definition must rest on courage and love. more …

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    A Joint Statement on Respecting Tribal Sovereignty

    The great legal scholar Felix Cohen wrote in 1953 that: “Like the miner’s canary, the Indian marks the shifts from fresh air to poison gas in our political atmosphere; and our treatment of Indians, even more than our treatment of other minorities, reflects the rise and fall of our democratic faith.” Congressional representatives, and the people of their districts alike, normally ignore American relations with the Indian nations during the course of their electoral campaigns. Together with Jeffrey Ballinger, a candidate in the Massachusetts 3rd District, I have developed a joint statement of history and principles called “Respecting Tribal Sovereignty” that we hope will help to change that-will help to change the national terms of debate-as it gathers signatories. more …

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    Improving on Medicare for All

    I was recently asked a question to which my response was that I support a single-payer system, but would vote for lowering the age of eligibility to Medicare to 50-year-olds and older as an important step in the right direction. I am flexible about how we get to quality healthcare for all as a right, and not a privilege, but firmly committed to that outcome. A recent study that I want to share, serves as a powerful reminder of just how much better healthcare is provided where healthcare is a right than it is in America, even under Medicare. The founders of our country were capable of learning from the experience of others and we have to regain that ability.  more …

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    Immigration and Trump’s “America First” Idolatry

    Trump’s claim in his inaugural address that it is “the right of all nations to put their own interests first” is exactly wrong. The first obligation of all nations, as of all individuals, is to respect the moral and legal order under which the rights of every nation and every individual are to be upheld. Putting “interests” before morality led to the Trail of Tears and Death and other genocidal actions against the Indian nations, putting “interests” before morality led the South to secede from the Union in an effort to maintain slavery, putting “interests” before morality is currently leading us to maintain an inhuman detention and deportation system and leading many people to view immigration as a threat to the nation rather than as one of its greatest resources.  more …

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    From the Captured Economy to a Freedom Budget

    The contrast between two books on economic reform that I have just finished reading is striking. The first, addressing the “captured” economy as it stands at present, offers hope in a return to a more liberal and less corrupt capitalism. The second, focusing on a program of reform advanced by leaders of the Socialist Party in the 1960s—a Freedom Budget—offers a much more profound hope of changing not merely the American economy but even the ways we relate to one another as human beings. I believe we can learn from both books and should adopt policies that draw on both approaches.  more …

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    A Marshall Plan for America

    It is high time for a Marshall Plan for America. We helped rebuild Western Europe after WWII and we can help rebuild ourselves. Our roads, our bridges, our railways, our airports, our water systems, our electrical grid—all are in need of investment. And the world is in need of our decarbonizing our economy. According to a recent study by the Brookings Institute, real federal infrastructure spending from 1940 to 2017 (in 2017 dollars) averaged about $102 billion per year over those decades and we are spending more than that currently. But as a percentage of GDP, we are currently spending less than 1%—a far cry from the nearly 3% that the New Deal reached, or even the 2% that came in the 1970s when the federal government supported new water resource projects alongside a continued highway build out. Relative to the size of our economy today, a New Deal level commitment would involve a peak of as much as $600 billion in a year and then average more than $200 billion per year for a decade. And that is what we need to do. Deferred maintenance is no longer an option.  more …

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    Beyond Liberal Internationalism

    Samuel Moyn’s fine article, “Beyond Liberal Internationalism,” in the Winter 2017 issue of Dissent, is a good starting point for a reexamination of the traditional foreign policy of the Democratic Party and what most needs to be changed about it. Unfortunately, beyond recognizing that we must not simply hunker down in opposition with neoliberals and neoconservatives to Trump’s recklessness—important as such opposition is—Moyn doesn’t sketch much of an alternative.  more …

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    Investing in Public Education

    There is much that a free people can and should do through government to encourage the unity of the nation, establish justice, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty. There is also much that a free people must do for these purposes as individuals, families, neighborhoods, and other private institutions. Abraham Lincoln had it right when he said in 1864 that “The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do at all, or cannot so well do, for themselves, in their separate and individual capacities.” A central contribution that government should make to promote the general welfare is to invest in public education  more …

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    Respecting Tribal Sovereignty

    Happy Thanksgiving! As we think about what we are grateful for this Thanksgiving, let us also take a little time to remember where we have been as a people and where we are going. We, as a society, years from now, will ultimately judge ourselves—and as I believer I think we will ultimately be judged by God—in no small measure by the way we treat our poor, our sick, our elderly, our undocumented immigrants, the prisoners in our jails and, especially, the native peoples.  more …

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    Reviving the Moral Basis of Our Constitution

    Cultivating civil discourse and greater mutual understanding across the political spectrum, Bernie Sanders visited Liberty University on September 14, 2015. I encourage you to watch the remarkable video of his visit. What Bernie did in that visit was to champion America’s civil religion—the unwritten moral consensus on which our liberties rest—and begin a dialogue about where the “left” and the “right” might work together on behalf of the common good. This is something that we all need to do much more often.  more …

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    Reestablishing Justice in America

    The Constitution tells us that one of the basic purposes of “we the people” is to “establish justice.” For the founding generation, that meant, above all, equal treatment for all citizens under the rule of law. Nowadays, the 1% is seeking to corrupt the rule of law and replace it with arrangements to serve their power. The fight against them is a fight to carry forward the promise of the American Revolution to generations yet to be born—to see that promise more fully realized instead of corrupted.  more …

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    A Freedom Budget for the 21st Century

    The strategy of seeking what government can do that is good for everyone in the society, but which will also particularly benefit those who need help most, was the strategy behind A. Philip Randolph’s Freedom Budget in the 1960s—the idea of a budget that would seek to finance progress toward social justice out of the resources of a growing economy and contribute to the further growth of that economy in its turn, a budget which Randolph argued could eliminate poverty in America within a decade. In calling for a Freedom Budget for the 21st century—a budget for the poor, the working class, and the middle class—I am seeking to build on this tradition.  more …

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    Healthcare as a Right and Beyond

    The struggle to insure that quality healthcare is guaranteed for all the inhabitants of our land—citizens and non-citizens alike—begins with building as strong a consensus as we can that, in the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, people should not be crushed into bankruptcy by a chance illness, or driven into debt by excessive deductibles and co-pays, or completely denied the care they need by insurance company bureaucrats who are ignorant of the art and science of medicine, or by an inadequate governmental compensation system.  more …

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    What Does Labor Want?

    Addressing the question of what labor wants, in 1893, the founder of the American Federation of Labor, Samuel Gompers, declared: “We want more school houses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more constant work and less crime; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures, to make manhood more noble, womanhood more beautiful and childhood more happy and bright. These in brief are the primary demands made by the Trade Unions in the name of labor. These are the demands made by labor upon modern society and in their consideration is involved the fate of civilization.”  more …

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    Some Thoughts on Women and Justice

    Ever since encountering the following quote from A. Philip Randolph—the founder and leader of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters for more than a generation—I have been impressed with its profound wisdom, wisdom that I believe applies to the struggle for justice for women as well: “Salvation for a race, nation, or class must come from within. Freedom is never granted; it is won. Justice is never given; it is exacted. Freedom and justice must be struggled for by the oppressed of all lands and races, and the struggle must be continuous, for freedom is never a final fact, but a continuing evolving process to higher and higher levels of human, social, economic, political and religious relationships.” more …

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    Resolving the Left - Liberal Divide

    I make no secret of the fact that I hope to see Democrats who stand where Bernie Sanders does take over the Democratic Party—it’s the central reason why I am running for Congress. I also make no secret of the fact that after canvassing door-to-door for Bernie in Iowa and Wisconsin last year, I went back to Iowa in the fall to canvass door-to-door for Hillary Clinton. We need a moral and political revolution in this country that “centrist” Democrats like Hillary have proven themselves unable to lead, but we also need to defeat and then marginalize the gravely serious problem that neofascists like Donald Trump and his enablers represent. As a political party, we Democrats need to find ways of resolving the “left-liberal divide” while remaining united against the neofascists. A recent article by Pete Davis offers some valuable thoughts on how we can do so and where common ground can be found. The article is a good expression of what I have praised elsewhere in this campaign as the virtue of civility. more …

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    Endorsement from Illinois Berniecrats

    “The Illinois Berniecrats are proud to endorse one of our own—Steve Schwartzberg—as a candidate for Congress in the Illinois 5th District. Since meeting with Steve 90 days ago we have learned that his family history is deep in Progressive leadership, and we have come to know Steve both in person and in his writings, and we know that he stands, as he says, “with Bernie Sanders and the peaceful political revolution that Bernie has helped to launch.” more …

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    A Foreign Policy for Civility

    In advocating a “Foreign Policy for Civility” I am calling not merely for good manners and diplomacy, but for making concern for the global common good the basic animating principle of our foreign policy. We must seek to build our foreign policy on what is best for the peoples of the world as well as for ourselves. Although he does not use the word civility, this is the substance of what Bernie Sanders recently called for in his excellent speech on foreign policy at Westminster College. more …

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    Montessori-style Pre-K for All

    As a plank in my platform, I support using public monies to contribute to a national “Montessori-style Pre-K for All.” The first link below is to an article from 2013 presenting the case for “The Importance of Preschool and Childcare for Working Mothers.” more …

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    Some Thoughts on Racial Justice

    In talking with people as I run for office, I often ask them what they consider the most important issue before the country and often hear the answer: “healthcare.” Recently, I heard the answer: “racial justice.” I thought I would seek to say something about the subject, and where I stand, that is not filled with platitudes. more …

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    Some thoughts on Israel, the Palestinians, and Peace

    On my webpage, in an essay on providing for the common defense , I say a little about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: “I believe that the Jewish people have a right to national self-determination through the state of Israel, but I also believe that the Palestinian people have a right to a state of their own. Moreover, I believe that the Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank have been established in violation of international law. more …

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    A Solution to Gerrymandering

    The author David Brin has written that ” The fate of the republic – even civilization – may rest upon Justice Anthony Kennedy’s vote, as the US Supreme Court ponders the criminal conspiracy called gerrymandering. In my most important posting of the year (so far), I lay out a solution so simple that it leaves the Justices no wriggle room. more …