By Jesse Goodwin, Staff Writer
At a Boston rally on March 31, Bernie Sanders defended President Trump’s voters, criticized the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and outlined how progressive Democrats can resist Trump’s agenda.
“Some people think the people who voted for Trump are racists and sexists and homophobes and deplorable folks,” he said, referencing Clinton’s now-infamous remark that “you could put half of Trump’s supporters in a basket of deplorables.”
“It wasn’t that Donald Trump won the election, it was that the Democratic Party lost the election,” he added, professing a need for “fundamental restructuring of the Democratic Party” to win future elections. Republicans, he said, are “a right-wing extremist party who has an agenda that most Americans soundly and roundly disagree with.”
The rally was organized by Our Revolution, a progressive organization Sanders formed to continue the work of his presidential campaign.
“We need a Democratic Party that is not a party of the liberal elite but of the working class of this country, we need a party that is a grassroots party, where candidates are talking to working people, not spending their time raising money for the wealthy and the powerful,” Sanders said of the organization’s goals. “And when we do that, when we transform the Democratic Party, we transform America.”
Sanders also offered praise for Senator Elizabeth Warren, who was present at the rally.
He said that “you can tell the quality of a person by the enemies she makes, and to her credit Elizabeth Warren has made some wonderful enemies,” including Wall Street and the pharmaceutical and fossil fuel industries.
By contrast, Clinton proved Sanders’ point that politicians are often beholden to “the wealthy and the powerful” rather than ordinary Americans.
As secretary of state, she opposed a carbon tax and supported fracking, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership before flip-flopping on those issues during her campaign. She was also reluctant to release the transcripts of her speeches to Goldman Sachs, some of which were published by WikiLeaks in November.
Additionally, according to finance disclosures reported by Reuters, the Clinton campaign received nearly $240,000 from drug companies its first ten months—more than any other candidate in either party—despite Clinton’s tough public stance on them; during one Democratic debate, she described them as her “enemies.”
Sanders, meanwhile, rejected donations from super PACs and lamented corporate influence on politics. Employees of pharmaceutical and fossil fuel companies, for instance, are sometimes appointed to lead the federal agencies that regulate them.
President Trump remarked that the drug industry was “getting away with murder” and suggested that Medicare should negotiate drug prices during his first news conference in January.
Yet his appointee to lead the Food and Drug Administration, conservative physician Scott Gottlieb, disclosed financial relationships with over 25 biotechnical and pharmaceutical companies in a recent letter to an ethics committee, CNN reported last week.
Because the Clinton campaign received more money from drug companies than Trump’s campaign, Clinton’s appointee to lead the FDA might also have had financial ties to the drug industry.
Since the election, Sanders has emerged as perhaps the most trusted politician in America, with his popularity far exceeding that of his rivals in both parties. According to a recent Fox News poll, he currently holds the highest approval rating of any American politician at 61 percent and the lowest disapproval rating at 32 percent.
Sanders supporters have heeded his calls for a grassroots revolution, making significant political gains at the local level. In California, former Sanders delegates, union members, and volunteers—nicknamed “Berniecrats”—won 618 of 1,120 seats in assembly districts in January’s biennial Assembly District Election Meetings with the help of Sanders’ Our Revolution, which reported that it “sent more than 110,000 emails and 40,000 peer-to-peer text messages in January to mobilize Democratic voters for California’s local elections.”
Sanders is right to argue that the future of the Democratic party belongs to progressives such as Warren and many of his supporters, who have proven themselves more capable of resisting Trump’s agenda than establishment Democrats. The revolution has just begun, and it isn’t going away.