In a live, online address streamed across the nation, Bernie Sanders said tonight that the main goal of the “political revolution” being built through his presidential campaign “has never been about any single candidate.” It’s been about building a “grassroots movement to transform America.”
He said that the new grassroots movement aims to make sure the government of the U.S. serves all the people of the U.S. and not just “the top one percent.”
“The movement will be here tomorrow,” Sanders said, “and next year, and in the years to come.” It will work within the Democratic Party and more broadly across the nation.
Sanders said that the main job facing the movement immediately is to defeat Donald Trump.
“We do not need a candidate who has bigotry as the cornerstone of his campaign,” Sanders said, “who believes climate change is a hoax” and who would give “more and more tax breaks to the very, very rich.”
Political observers in the commercial media had been discussing for many days whether or not Sanders would endorse Hillary Clinton, who at present has the support of enough delegates to win the nomination at the Democratic National Convention next month.
Sanders did not answer that question, but said he is looking forward to working with Clinton to pass the “most progressive platform in history” at the convention and to make the platform a living document.
“It’s no secret,” he said, “that Secretary Clinton and I have real disagreements. But we are also very close on some issues.”
He said the Democratic Party “needs leaders who will open the party to working people and students.”
He criticized the party for ignoring political races “in some of the poorest parts of our country” where winning might be difficult. He said that as a result many state legislatures and many governorships have been lost to Republicans.
“The Democratic Party needs a 50 state strategy,” he said.
In his speech, Sanders reiterated the components of a progressive platform, including campaign finance reform, making healthcare a right, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, requiring corporations to pay their fair share of taxes and reigning in Wall Street and pharmaceutical companies. He also listed making public colleges and universities tuition-free and adopting major reforms in our criminal justice system.
“It’s a disgrace,” he said, “that more people are in jail in the U.S. than in any other nation on earth.”
He also called for passing laws that would give all immigrants pathways to citizenship and for adopting policies that would encourage the use sustainable energy sources.
In recent days, MoveOn.org, which had endorsed Sanders switched to Clinton, as did U.S. representative Raúl Grijalva (D., Ariz) co chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The AFL-CIO, which had been neutral, also endorsed Clinton yesterday.
However, Sanders stressed that the political revolution is broader than electoral politics, although he urged progressive people to “run for office at the local and state level.”
Sanders said that “real change has never come from the top down; always from the bottom up.” He cited as examples the labor movement, the civil rights movement, the women’s rights movement and the environmental movement.
This coming weekend, a “Peoples’ Summit” is scheduled to be held in Chicago. Led by many Sanders campaign volunteers, the meeting will aim to map out the future of the “political revolution.”
“When historians look back,” Sanders said, “they will say that reversing the drift toward oligarchy began with the political revolution of 2016.”
Photo: Sanders’ online address. | video snapshot