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Foresight 2020: Senator Bernie Sanders

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) speaks during a rally on February 19, 2016 in Sparks, Nevada.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) speaks during a rally on February 19, 2016 in Sparks, Nevada.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders started out as an underdog when he ran for president against Hillary Clinton.

In 2015, he launched his campaign outside the Capitol and said he had to keep it brief because he needed to get back to work.

But now, he’s out in front, flying around the country and polling behind Vice President Joe Biden nationwide.

Several policies Sanders campaigned on three years ago are now major parts of the way Democrats are making their pitch to voters in their effort to take back the White House in 2020. We’ve talked about them — Medicare For All, a $15 minimum wage and more.

Even though he’s on the campaign trail, Sanders hasn’t stopped legislating. He released a new bill with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to limit credit card interest rates, and he and the congresswoman recently appeared at the same event to promote the Green New Deal and action on climate change.

Here’s how Rolling Stone described being out on the trail with him these days — especially in the much-coveted “blue wall” states. Journalist Matt Taibbi joined him in Madison, Wisconsin and elsewhere on the campaign.

Sanders’ pitch to 60 million red-state voters is, Trump lied to you. He believes many of Trump’s supporters are denizens of a pissed-off working class who bought Trump’s promises of better jobs, benefits and security after decades of betrayal from both parties.

Sanders thinks the whole working class shares this anger, but this trip is overtly about the white portion of that demographic. That he’s even making a pitch to Trump voters is an act of defiance. Much of the commercial news media since 2016 has doubled down on Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” line, dismissing Trump voters as motivated entirely by racism. To court them at all, the thinking goes, is itself a form of white identity politics.

Sanders clearly disagrees. His speech is designed to remind everyone, Democrats as much as ostensible Trump voters, how explicit Trump’s promises on the “economic insecurity” front were and how miserably he’s failed at keeping them. Bernie has never said this out loud, but some of his frustration may come from the fact that candidate Trump in 2015-16 often borrowed from Sanders-esque critiques about corporate power; he even regularly made it a point to praise Sanders in speeches.

But critics have pointed to Sanders’ previous comments on reparations for slavery — he declined to explicitly back them in a conversation with The View — and allegations of sexism and sexual harassment in his 2016 campaign as reasons for Sanders to step aside.

We talk to the longest-serving independent in Congress about why he’s running for president and more.

Produced by Jonquilyn Hill.


Sen. Bernie Sanders, Member, U.S. Senate (I-Vt.); author of “The Speech: A Historic Filibuster on Corporate Greed and the Decline of Our Middle Class.”

For more, visit https://the1a.org.

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Copyright 2019 WAMU 88.5