In the early summer of 2017, a little less than a year after his Presidential campaign had ended, Bernie Sanders spent a few days on a speaking tour in England, to promote the European version of his book “Our Revolution.” The Brexit resolution had passed twelve months earlier, a general election looked likely to consolidate the conservative hold on the country, and Sanders’s audiences—in the hundreds, though not the thousands—were anxious and alert. I was at those events, talking with the people who had come—skinny, older leftists and louche, cynical younger ones—and they were anticipating not just the old campaign hits but a broader explanation of why the world had suddenly gone so crazy and what could be done. Sanders had scarcely talked about foreign affairs in his 2016 campaign, but his framework had a natural extensibility. Under way in the world was a simple fight, Sanders said. On one side were oligarchs and the right-wing parties they had managed to corrupt. On the other were the people.
In the thirty months since Sanders’s 2016 campaign ended, in the petulance and ideological strife of the Democratic National Convention, he has become a more reliable partisan, just as progressivism has moved his way. He begins the 2020 Presidential campaign not as a gadfly but as a favorite, which requires a comprehensive vision among voters of how he would lead the free world. In 2017, Sanders hired his first Senate foreign-policy adviser, a progressive think-tank veteran named Matt Duss. Sanders gave major speeches—at Westminster College, in the United Kingdom, and at Johns Hopkins—warning that “what we are seeing is the rise of a new authoritarian axis” and urging liberals not just to defend the post-Cold War status quo but also to “reconceptualize a global order based on human solidarity.” In 2016, he had asked voters to imagine how the principles of democratic socialism could transform the Democratic Party. Now he was suggesting that they could also transform how America aligns itself in the world.
In early April, I met with Sanders at his Senate offices, in Washington. Spring was already in effect—the cherry blossoms along the tidal basin were still in bloom but had begun to crinkle and fade—and talk among the young staffers milling around his offices was of the intensity of Sanders’s early campaign, of who would be travelling how many days over the next month and who would have to miss Easter. It was my first encounter with Sanders during this campaign. Basic impression: same guy. He shook my hand with a grimace, and interrupted my first question when he recognized the possibility for a riff, on the significance of a Senate vote on Yemen. His essential view of foreign policy seemed to be that the American people did not really understand how dark and cynical it has been—“how many governments we have overthrown,” as Sanders told me. “How many people in the United States understand that we overthrew a democratically elected government in Iran to put in the Shah? Which then led to the Revolution. How many people in this country do you think know that? So we’re going to have to do a little bit of educating on that.”
One condition that Americans had not digested was the bottomlessness of inequality. “I got the latest numbers here,” Sanders said. He motioned, and Duss, who was sitting beside him, slid a sheet of paper across the table. “Twenty-six of the wealthiest people on earth own more wealth than the bottom half of the world’s population. Did you know that? So you look at it, you say”—here he motioned as if each of his hands were one side of a scale—“twenty-six people, 3.6 billion people. How grotesque is that?”
He went on, “When I talk about income inequality and talk about right-wing authoritarianism, you can’t separate the two.” No one knew how rich Putin was, Sanders said, but some people said he was the wealthiest man in the world. The repressive Saudi monarchs were also billionaire Silicon Valley investors, and “their brothers in the Emirates” have “enormous influence not only in that region but in the world, with their control over oil. A billionaire President here in the United States. You’re talking about the power of Wall Street and multinational corporations.” Simple, really: his thesis had always been that money corrupted politics, and now he was tracing the money back overseas. His phlegmy baritone acquired a sarcastic lilt. “It’s a global economy, Ben, in case you didn’t know that!”
Bernie Sanders’ campaign just released a new ad today and it’s already the topic of conversations online around the country. The ad, called “Lordstown Tough,” can be watched in the video above.
Sanders released the new ad today, after visiting Lordstown last week. The man who figures prominently in the ad is Chuckie Denison, from Lake Milton, Ohio. At the beginning of the ad, he talks about how the area is in trouble and they need help. “This is my third plant I’ve seen close,” he says.
The ad goes on to talk about promises that Donald Trump made to the area, which voted for Trump, and how those promises were broken as the town has seen more and more people leave the area as industries and plants close.
Denison vows in the ad to stay and fight. He’s not going anywhere. Denison told local NBC affiliate WFMJ that he’s a third generation GM worker. Sadly, he said he wasn’t surprised when production ended. “I was angry, I was pissed and that’s why I plan on staying here and fighting back.”
Denison said he took an early retirement in November after working at Lordstown and Parma. He said that current strategies simply aren’t working. He told WFMJ: “What we’ve been doing the last decades is not working. It’s not preventing these corporations from shipping our jobs overseas and no one has done anything about it, not Republicans, not Democrats and it’s time we hold all of them accountable.”
The news about Lordstown is recent, making Sanders’ campaign ad highly relevant in its timing. In March 2019, GM announced that production would end at its Lordstown, Ohio plant, CNN reported. GM ended production two days earlier than it had originally planned and it “unallocated” the factory, meaning no new cars will be assigned to it. GM announced a restructuring in November which included closing four U.S. plants, one plant in Canada, and cutting 8,000 U.S. jobs. The Lordstown plant gave jobs to 1,435 hourly employees. About 417 of those accepted transfers to other plants. But some, like Denison, stopped doing so because they were so tired of losing their jobs over and over and decided they wanted to “fight back.”
Three prominent Massachusetts Democrats will join community and labor leaders in Boston Thursday night to kick off the youth-led Sunrise Movement’s 250-city Road to a Green New Deal Tour.
Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, along with Rep. Ayanna Pressley, are among many politicians and activists slated to speak at the tour’s eight major stops throughout April and May. Markey—who introduced the Green New Deal resolution with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in February—and Pressley will attend the launch at the Strand Theatre in Boston. Warren, a 2020 presidential hopeful, will join via video.
As Common Dreams reported last month, the national tour, which is cosponsored and supported by several local climate groups, aims to make the Green New Deal a key focus on the 2020 election.
“First, we put the Green New Deal on the map and changed the conversation on climate policy in this country,” Sunrise Movement executive director Varshini Prakash said in a press statement. “Now it’s time to transform the 2020 election into a referendum on climate action, and give every single American a chance to hear from their leaders and their neighbors about how the Green New Deal will improve their lives.”
“We’re building a groundswell of support for the Green New Deal in every corner of this country,” organizers explain on a tour webpage. “We’ll gather in libraries, university campuses, churches, and living rooms to learn about the ambition, prosperity, and promise of a Green New Deal, hear from political and community leaders, and discuss the pathway to make the Green New Deal become reality.”
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TODAY, THE INTERCEPT launches “A Message From the Future With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,” a seven-minute film narrated by the congresswoman and illustrated by Molly Crabapple. Set a couple of decades from now, it’s a flat-out rejection of the idea that a dystopian future is a forgone conclusion. Instead, it offers a thought experiment: What if we decided not to drive off the climate cliff? What if we chose to radically change course and save both our habitat and ourselves?
What if we actually pulled off a Green New Deal? What would the future look like then?
This is a project unlike any we have done before, crossing boundaries between fact, fiction, and visual art, co-directed by Kim Boekbinder and Jim Batt and co-written by Ocasio-Cortez and Avi Lewis. To reclaim a phrase from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, it’s our “green dream,” inspired by the explosion of utopian art produced during the original New Deal.
And it’s a collaboration with a context and a history that seems worth sharing.
Back in December, I started talking to Crabapple — the brilliant illustrator, writer, and filmmaker — about how we could involve more artists in the Green New Deal vision. Most art forms are pretty low carbon, after all, and cultural production played an absolutely central role during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930s.
We thought it was time to galvanize artists into that kind of social mission again — but not in a couple of years, if politicians and activists manage to translate what is still only a rough plan into law. No, we wanted to see Green New Deal art right away — to help win the battle for hearts and minds that will determined whether it has a fighting chance in the first place.
Crabapple, along with Boekbinder and Batt, have been honing a filmmaking style that has proved enormously successful at spreading bold ideas fast, most virally in their video with Jay Z on the “epic fail” of the war on drugs. “I would love to make a video on the Green New Deal with AOC,” Crabapple said, which seemed to me like a dream team.
The question was: How do we tell the story of something that hasn’t happened yet?
We realized that the biggest obstacle to the kind of transformative change the Green New Deal envisions is overcoming the skepticism that humanity could ever pull off something at this scale and speed. That’s the message we’ve been hearing from the “serious” center for four months straight: that it’s too big, too ambitious, that our Twitter-addled brains are incapable of it, and that we are destined to just watch walruses fall to their deaths on Netflix until it’s too late.
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Having tried numerous candidates to take on Bernie and not achieving the desired effect a new one is being elevated to be the knight in shining armor. More about this in the comment section and anything else that you might find interesting. …Continue reading →
Bernie Sanders asked Rust Belt voters to embrace his most progressive ideas at a Pennsylvania town hall aired on the conservative Fox News Network as he tries to make inroads with the working-class voters who were drawn to President Donald Trump in 2016.
Sanders promoted his proposals for free public college tuition and a “Medicare for All” government-run health program and defended democratic socialism as a system to create a government and economy “that works for all.”
Asked whether his plans bring big price tags that would drive up the national debt, the Democratic presidential contender scoffed at the suggestion, saying his plans for more taxes on the wealthy and the biggest multinational corporations would cover the costs of his ideas. He said it’s Trump, who ushered through a massive tax-cut plan in 2017, who doesn’t care about soaring debt.
“You’re talking to the wrong guy,” Sanders said in an hour-long event aired on the network that is the president’s favorite news outlet. “We pay for what we are proposing, unlike the president of the United States.”
The Fox News appearance followed a three-day campaign swing through Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — all states that Trump narrowly won in 2016 that will be crucial again in 2020. Sanders used the trip and the Monday night Fox forum to take on Trump, looking past competitive early-state primaries against 17 Democratic rivals and appealing directly to Trump’s core base of white working-class voters by presenting his version of economic populism.
The backdrop for the town hall was an abandoned steel plant in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the heart of a 2020 battleground region. Trump won Pennsylvania, but just barely, taking the state by less than a percentage point over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Bethlehem is nestled between two counties in eastern Pennsylvania, one that Trump won with just 50 percent of the vote and the other narrowly captured by Clinton with 50 percent.
Sanders made clear that strong opposition to the 2017 $1.5 trillion tax cut — which no Democrat in Congress supported — will be at the center of his second bid for the presidency. He called a tax system that has let large corporations such as Amazon.com Inc. and Netflix Inc. pay little or no taxes “a disgrace.” He defended proposals for higher taxes geared toward the largest U.S. companies and a top individual tax rate of 52 percent.
Bernie Sanders is already setting his sights on President Donald Trump by becoming the first Democratic presidential hopeful to visit all three “blue wall” states that decided the last election and will likely be pivotal again in 2020.
During weekend rallies in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — states that won Trump the White House by a total of less than 80,000 votes — Sanders repeatedly painted the president as a “liar” who swindled working class Americans when he promised to fight for them.
“The biggest lie he told was that he was going to stand up for working families and take on the establishment. That was a monstrous lie,” Sanders said Sunday in Pittsburgh, accusing the president of breaking promises to fight for universal health care, oppose cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, tax the wealthy and reduce the trade deficit.
Visiting the Rust Belt this early is a show of power for Sanders, putting his 17 Democratic rivals on notice that he has the money, name recognition and front-runner status to look past the initial primary states. Michigan doesn’t vote until mid-March, while Wisconsin and Pennsylvania vote in April. Sanders, who enjoys a cult-like base of support built during his 2016 run for the nomination, trails in polls only to former Vice President Joe Biden, who isn’t yet a candidate.
“Donald Trump campaigned as fake Bernie Sanders. And the way to beat him is with real Bernie Sanders,” Faiz Shakir, Sanders’ campaign manager, said in an interview.