“There is a lot of sentiment that enough is enough, that we need fundamental changes, that the establishment—whether it is the economic establishment, the political establishment or the media establishment—is failing the American people.” This was Bernie Sanders’ message during his 2016 Presidential bid. Though he lost the Democratic primary, and Republican Donald Trump emerged victorious in the general election, Bernie hasn’t stopped fighting.
Since the days after the election, Bernie has continued to push for economic, racial, social, and environmental justice just as hard as he did during the campaign. While Trump has set out to destroy the EPA, gut healthcare, antagonist black and latino communities, and tilt the economic scales further towards the wealthy, Bernie continues to fight. In the process, he has shown his fellow liberals how to appeal to voters and start rebuilding the Left. It turns out that when you fight, people notice: Bernie consistently polls as one of the most popular politicians in the country. Here’s how Bernie has been taking the promises of his campaign into the Trump administration so far, embodying what a model politician (who sticks to his promises) should look like in the process.
Dakota Access Pipeline Protest
November 15, 2016
Up through the election, many Democratic politicians were issuing mealy mouthed non-committal statements about the DAPL. Sanders came out in opposition to the pipeline early on, and continued that opposition through election season. His surprise appearance at a Washington, DC rally against the pipeline was a boon to indigenous protesters and environmental activists who had been fighting for months with few high-profile allies.
Since then, Trump has pushed forward on the DAPL and other projects that will potentially damage the environment. Sanders has continued his opposition. After Trump greenlit continuing the DAPL, Sanders released a statements saying, "Today, President Trump ignored the voices of millions and put the short-term profits of the fossil fuel industry ahead of the future of our planet... I will do everything I can to stop these pipelines and protect our planet for future generations."
MSNBC Town Hall
December 12, 2016
When much of the country was still looking to flyover states with bitterness and resentment, Sanders went to the heartland to talk to the people who elected Trump president. This was the first in a planned series of town halls hosted by MSNBC’s Chris Hayes in which Bernie would speak to voters in areas that went heavily and unexpectedly for Trump. Trump was the first Republican to win Wisconsin since 1984, a wake up call that the Dems had lost touch with their working class base. One audience member told Sanders as much, "The fact that the Democrats didn't see this coming shows — it proves — that they just ignored Wisconsin.” Many on the Left found the event to be an eye opening look at what motivated voters to leave the Democrats behind in 2016.
"Our First Stand” Healthcare Rally
Macomb County, MI
January 15, 2017
Shortly after the New Year, Bernie organized a national rally in support of the Affordable Care Act ahead of the proposed gutting of the legislation by Republicans. Sanders used the occasion not only to support the ACA, but also to look to the future. He told the crowd in Michigan, “Our job today is to defend the ACA. Our job tomorrow is to bring about a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system." Bernie believes, and many on the Left agree, that a winning strategy is expanding and improving on the ACA. Bernie coordinated with the broader spectrum of Democratic political celebrities like Tim Kaine and Kamala Harris to hold simultaneous rallies in seventy locations across the country. Some of these rallies drew thousands of supporters.
January 21, 2017
Bernie spoke to the Women’s March crowd in Montpelier, Vermont a week after the health care rally. This was an important day for politicians to put aside their differences to show up and get vocal about women’s rights. When Sanders told the audience of 15,000 "Trump is going to learn they are not going to divide us up. We are going to create... a nation based in love and compassion not on hate and bigotry!" He did his part in a small but powerful way.
DNC Chair Election
February 25th, 2017
Keith Ellison ran a vibrant and tough campaign as an insurgent left wing candidate for the DNC chair. Sanders, Ellison, and others are working to push the Democrats left on issues like economics and healthcare. An Ellison win was always improbable (he predictably lost to establishment pick Tom Perez), but this was an important trial balloon for the strength of the progressive movement. In backing Ellison’s failed bid, Sanders showed that the left wing of the party will keep pushing the establishment despite their shared opposition to Trump.
Nissan Auto Workers Rally
March 4, 2017
Sanders spent the first weekend in March standing with autoworkers at a predominately black Nissan plant in Mississippi fighting for the right to unionize with the United Autoworkers (UAW). Sanders performed poorly with black voters in states like Mississippi and Alabama during the primary. Though he is staunchly pro-Union, the event was an opportunity for the Vermont senator to connect to voters who saw things from a different perspective mere months ago.
MSNBC Town Hall
McDowell County, WV
March 13, 2017
About a week ago, Bernie joined Chris Hayes for another town hall discussion, but this time it was in heart of coal country. The event was held in McDowell County, West Virginia, which is one of four West Virginia counties that face the highest mortality rate from opiates across the entire US. One of the most memorable moments of the night came when Hayes asked the audience to raise their hands if they knew someone affected by the opioid epidemic, and nearly everyone in the room put an arm up.
But Bernie, as always, made an impression. The Vermont senator criticized the AHCA in front of Trump voters, people the legislation would affect most adversely: "The Republican bill, it should not be seen as a health care bill, because throwing millions of people off of health care [is not] health care legislation." He remarks were met with applause from the audience.
A member of the audience who voted for Trump later said, “I think every American citizen should have healthcare” to rapturous applause.