Over the weekend Bernie Sanders began campaigning for President with two huge rallies 13,000 people showed up in the cold to hear him and others speak whilst 12,500 did the same in Chicago the following day. The speeches highlighted his lifetime activism and support of progressive policies and minority Americans.
Like Shaun King I reject the premise that our past actions should be disregarded or that voting records don’t matter. Of course, it matters whether you voted against the illegal Iraq war (which Bernie did) or fight for better protections of Women suffering domestic abuse (again Bernie did), or if you get arrested for refusing to unchain yourself from two black women while fighting for civil rights (Yeah, he did that too). He is consistently on the right side of history as every leader should be but very few are.
I do not understand why anyone would vote for a corporate candidate who has changed their policy positions in the last two years since the popularity of Sanders over the original progressive candidate who has stayed on message for 40 years. I’m looking forward to the June debates when we will see the fire in his eyes juxtaposed by the majority of his opponents who are career politicians saying what is popular.
One of the greatest things about Bernie is that no matter what progressive issue you are passionate about be it Women’s, LGBTQ, or Civil rights, economic injustice, Climate Change or universal healthcare you will find a video of him fighting for the same thing. You will see in his voting record that he has always supported you it is time to support him. As millions already have in the first week of announcing Bernie received 10 million dollars from small donations averaging $27 and 1 million activists signed up to campaign for his Presidency.
I’m so glad speakers like Nina Turner and Shaun King both incredible activists who support the black community highlighted Bernie’s past work with the civil rights movement which included organising the first sit-in at the University of Chicago to protest segregated campus housing as part of his work as chairman for the Congress for Racial Equality (CORE). His speeches over the weekend show he is still passionate about civil rights discussing the systematic racial injustice in America.
He spoke about the racial injustice in economic inequality and pledged to fight against mass incarceration, the war on drugs, and gentrification. He also advocated for wide criminal justice reform including an end to cash bail which clearly punishes the poor more than those who can afford it, and the need for affordable housing and higher wages. He may not be promising reparations but don’t be fooled into thinking anyone else is or that these policies are not black issues they of course are.
Since the 2016 Election Bernie has shown he is still an activist and organiser founding the grassroots organisation Our Revolution in 2016 which is dedicated to providing information to voters, encouraging people to become involved in the political process and recruiting and campaigning for local, state, and national progressives. He also joined workers and activists in the fight for $15 dollars minimum wage and within weeks forced Amazon and Disney to pay their workers a living wage. He also offered an incredible platform to local activists at his rallies by inviting them to speak about local campaigns surrounding police brutality.
My favourite moments in these speeches and something I think defines Bernie is his lack of ego. When the crowds chanted his name, he told them that ‘We have to do it together by the millions’ the crowd then changed their chant to ‘Not me, Us’. This is a movement that needs all the support it can get because the mainstream media who is supported by the same corporations that fund corporate politicians will not be fair. They proved this in 2016 and have already begun in 2019 with hit pieces almost daily form Politico and four negative stories in the Washington Post the day he announced his nomination. We have to drown out the manufactured negativity with the truth and with the passion only grassroots activists can.