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Sunday, 19 June 2016 18:16

Serody: Bernie Sanders' online address

Written by  Bob Serody + Team SCPA

Posted Sunday, June 19, 2016
Presidential Presidential Campaign / Bernie, cont'd.
SCPA Member Opinion*

Bernie Sanders’ On-Line Address**
By Bob Serody

If anyone was concerned that Bernie Sanders met with President Obama and Hillary Clinton to throw in the towel, they were mistaken. His live online address on Thursday night (June 16) quickly verified his ongoing commitment to the millions of supporters along with his roadmap for the future that would extend well beyond the next Presidential election. Hillary’s supporters were hoping for a concession speech and a promise to support her against the evil ogre, Donald Trump.

“Election days come and go,” Sanders began. “But political and social revolutions that attempt to transform our society never end. They continue every day, every week, and every month in the fight to create a nation of social and economic justice.”
   
For the first ten minutes or so of the twenty-one-minute address, Sanders didn’t mention Hillary Clinton at all. Instead, he recalled how many commentators had initially regarded his campaign as a “fringe” phenomenon, and how he had gone on to attract more than twelve million votes and win twenty-two states. He assured his followers that rather than being a fringe idea, their vision of the future was mainstream, that it was “what millions of Americans believe in and want to see happen.”
   
His aim was to put real pressure on Hillary Clinton, to say that unless she puts issues like social and financial inequality front and center (the top 20 wealthiest people have as much wealth as the bottom 150 million people, or nearly half the country’s population), she will never capture the progressive movement, and without the support of Bernie’s people, Trump might just pull off an upset in November. The point being made is that Bernie isn’t just another Democratic politician—he is the tribune of a progressive movement that emerged from the antiwar demonstrations, the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon, the nationwide effort to boost the minimum wage, the outrage over the Citizens United ruling, and the general disenchantment with money politics. When Elizabeth Warren declined to enter the Presidential race, Sanders stepped in, running an insurgent campaign that conveyed a clear message and relied on small donations—more than eight million of them. “We showed the world that we could run a strong national campaign without being dependent on the big-money interests, whose greed has done so much to damage our country,” Sanders pointed out.
   
Bernie also emphasized that “The major political task that we face in the next five months is to make certain that Donald Trump is defeated, and defeated badly,” He also added “And I personally intend to begin my role in that process in a very short period of time.” This suggested that Sanders would pretty soon begin campaigning for Clinton. But campaigning for Clinton without concessions was dispelled when he said, “We must continue our grass-roots efforts to create the America that we know we can become. And we must take that energy into the Democratic National Convention on July 25th, in Philadelphia, where we will have more than a thousand and nine hundred delegates.”
   
Finally, when Sanders brought up Clinton, he said, “It is no secret that Secretary Clinton and I have strong disagreements on some very important issues. It is also true that our views are quite close on others. I look forward, in the coming weeks, to continued discussions between the two campaigns to make certain that your voices are heard and that the Democratic Party passes the most progressive platform in its history, and that Democrats actually fight for that agenda. I also look forward to working with Secretary Clinton to transform the Democratic Party so that it becomes a party of working people and young people, and not just wealthy campaign contributors.”
   
This was fighting talk, and Sanders followed it up with a long series of policy demands, several of which Clinton has so far resisted despite her recent moves to the left. Sanders reiterated his calls for free tuition at public universities and colleges, a federal ban on fracking, a tax on carbon, and “modern-day Glass-Steagall legislation” to break up the big banks. While the Clinton campaign has indicated that it is willing to make some concessions on the Party platform, it seems unlikely that it would be willing to go as far as Sanders wants on these issues.
   
The Sanders campaign is also pushing to reform the primary process. Sanders wants to get rid of superdelegates, end closed primaries, and allow same-day voter registration. Sanders didn’t spell out this agenda in his remarks. But, without mentioning any names, he still took the Democratic Party leadership to task, saying that it “has turned its back on dozens of states in this country and has allowed right-wing politicians to win elections in some states with virtually no opposition—including some of the poorest states in America.”
   
Sanders continued, “The Democratic Party needs leadership which is prepared to open its doors and welcome into its ranks working people and young people.” Only by doing this, he argued, could the Party hope to reverse the big losses it has sustained at the local level over the past decade. “State and local governments make enormously important decisions, and we cannot allow right-wing Republicans to increasingly control them,” he said. “I hope very much that many of you listening tonight are prepared to engage at that level.”
   
His speech ended on a note of optimism. “We have begun the long and arduous process of transforming America, a fight that will continue tomorrow, next week, next year, and into the future,” Sanders said. “My hope is that, when future historians look back and describe how our country moved forward into reversing the drift toward oligarchy, and created a government which represents all the people and not just the few, they will note that, to a significant degree, that effort began with the political revolution of 2016.”

If one looks at what could be Sanders’ most important speech of the campaign, it indicates to me that he has no intention of surrendering his principles and the platform needed to reform the Democratic Party. While he probably doesn’t expect Clinton to roll over on all of his demands, I suspect that she will have to agree to the following: a federal ban on fracking, a tax on carbon, enacting modern-day Glass-Steagall legislation, closing the tax loopholes that benefit corporations, increasing the minimum wage, rejecting the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) as it is presently written, taking steps to reduce student debt, increasing social security benefits, reforming the criminal justice system, and passing comprehensive immigration reform. He will also expect her to agree to reform the primary process, such as getting rid of superdelegates, eliminating rigged voting (such as occurred in California), ending closed primaries, and allowing same-day voter registration. The bottom line: The DNC will have to accept the most progressive reform platform in the party’s history.
   
Hillary’s supporters had expected Sanders to roll over and climb on the Clinton bandwagon after California. It might still take them a while to understand that Bernie’s principles and his much-needed support for her election are a bundled package. I believe she will make some important concessions simply because she needs his support in order to become the first woman president in American history, which means everything to her.
   
If, as many of us expect, she becomes the Democratic nominee, then we must heed Noam Chomsky’s advice – that it is crucial for all of Sanders’ supporters to show up at the voting booth and vote for Clinton, regardless of their negative feelings about her. The choice for the 2016 election is clear - a Democratic president who might be persuaded to move to the left during her term in office by Bernie’s continuing influence and pressure from reform-movement candidates running for office at the local, state, and federal levels, or an out-of-control Republican bigot and narcissist who could bring on Armageddon.

**Much of what I’ve written here is based on John Cassidy’s June 17 report for the New Yorker entitled MORE FIGHTING WORDS FROM BERNIE SANDERS and the streamed on-line address by Bernie sanders.

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Bob Serody is a member of Space Coast Progressive Alliance.

*ED. NOTE: The views expressed here are solely those of the author. SCPA does not endorse candidates and welcomes commentary on a wide range of issues, including political campaigns, local,regional and national. If interested in contributing commentary, please contact SCPA.

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LINKS

Sanders live online address to his supporters
June 16, 2016

'… political and social revolutions that attempt to transform our society never end. They continue every day, every week and every month in the fight to create a nation of social and economic justice …

Real change never takes place from the top down, or in the living rooms of wealthy campaign contributors. It always occurs from the bottom on up – when tens of millions of people say “enough is enough” and become engaged in the fight for justice. That’s what the political revolution we helped start is all about. That’s why the political revolution must continue. …'

VIDEO 23 min.:
https://berniesanders.com/press-release/sanders-live-online-address/

TEXT of the online address:
https://berniesanders.com/political-revolution-continues/

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More fighting words from Bernie Sanders
The New Yorker, by John Cassidy, June 17, 2016

If there was any doubt what Bernie Sanders would say in his live online address on Thursday night, he quickly resolved it by making clear that this was no concession speech, but rather a rallying cry for his supporters, and a road map for a future that extends well beyond Tuesday, November 8th. …

http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/more-fighting-words-from-bernie-sanders

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Contributed by Bob Serody, compiled by Team SCPA   

Last modified on Wednesday, 22 June 2016 16:25
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