Statement: Sister Simone Addresses the DNC Platform Drafting Committee

For Immediate Release 
Contact: Ashley Wilson, [email protected], 202-601-7856

Sister Simone Campbell Speaks to the Democratic National Convention Platform Drafting Committee 
Sister Simone Urged the Committee to Create a Vision for Our Nation Not a Laundry List of Policies

WASHINGTON, June 9, 2016 – Yesterday, Sister Simone Campbell, Executive Director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice was invited to address the Democratic National Convention’s Platform Drafting Committee. Sr. Simone spoke on “Leveling the Playing Field: Creating Opportunities & Removing Barriers” Read the full text of her address below:

“I am Sister Simone Campbell, the Executive Director of NETWORK and leader of Nuns on the Bus. I am honored to be able to speak to you today. You have hard work ahead of you! While progress has been made on some policy fronts, there remains much to do.

This needed work is evidenced by Speaker Ryan who yesterday released his plan to address poverty in our nation. He totally misses the mark by failing to acknowledge what is working and further compounds the problem by cobbling together a series of failed policies that, if implemented, will only exacerbate the divides.

While it is tempting to make the Democratic platform a laundry list of your favorite policies, and I’m happy to add our seven policy proposals to Mend the Gaps in our society, I urge you to not do Platform business as usual. Please spend more time on the bigger picture.

See the anger that is tearing our nation apart. Take in the toxicity of racism that is creating a chasm where Amy an African American mother in St. Louis’ Mothers to Mothers speaks candidly about her fear that her young sons will not grow up because of the violence rampant in our streets. Take in the toxicity of white privilege that has at its core the wrongful notion that whites are better and can “triumph” in individual isolation. Take in the fact that this unpatriotic lie of individualism is generating anger, fear, division and tearing holes in the fabric of our society.

You have the daunting task of taking in the fact that Robin who lives in Northern Virginia and works full time in a profitable clothing store chain only earns federal minimum wage. She told me that I would never know by looking at her that she has to live in a homeless shelter because she can’t afford rent in our region on her $7.25 an hour.

Take in the fact that Jason a multi-million dollar entrepreneur in San Diego told me that he worries that his tax dollars are going to fund his competitors. Jason says he pays all of his employees a living wage, but his competitors don’t. Jason’s competitors have their employees use the social safety net thus reducing their personnel costs. Jason believes he is doing the right thing, but he knows his competitors can often underbid him for contracts. This makes the social safety net not just about struggling families, but also about a business subsidy that neither business nor Speaker Ryan wants to acknowledge.

Take in the fact that 16 year-old Katheryn a DACA teen in Kansas City is the principal care taker of her 4 siblings because when her parents went to pay a traffic ticket they ended up being deported because they did not have current visas even though they had both worked full time in the United States for more than ten years and have 3 US citizen children. But also take in the additional fact that Stephanie, Katheryn’s 12 year old sister, in her own anguished effort to help, attempted suicide. Luckily she was unsuccessful, but in your work on this important Platform drafting committee, take in her anguish.

I urge you to let your heart be broken open by the stories that you hear. Find a new way forward to reweave the fabric of our society. This is not a time for business as usual. I know that when our hearts are broken open to our people then there is room for everyone. No one can be left out of our care.

Now I do this work because of my Catholic faith which in our amazing pluralistic nation is not shared by all of you. But what I do know is that where we all meet is in our Constitution. The preamble sets forth the standard that I urge you to use. Let your hearts be broken open by the stories of our people and create, not a laundry list of policies, but a vision for our nation. Create a vision for Amy and her sons, Robin, Jason, Katheryn and Stephanie. Create a vision for those who are fearful and angry and may identify with another party. I urge you to use this daunting moment to help reweave the fabric of our society and create a Platform that is a vision for the 100% where We the People can form a more perfect union.”


NETWORK, advocates for justice inspired by Catholic sisters, educates, organizes, and lobbies for economic and social transformation. They have a more than 40-year track record of lobbying for critical federal programs that support those at the margins and prioritize the common good.