Streaming live online from his hometown of Burlington, Vermont, Senator Bernie Sanders left no doubt that his movement would live on. The new nonprofit “Our Revolution” organization will support progressive candidates and issues starting this election year.
“It is nice to be home,” Sanders told the Burlington crowd, resting his rolled up sleeves on the podium.
“As I have said a million times,” Sanders said, “real change doesn’t take place from the top down.”
In an approximately 45-minute address, the self-avowed democratic socialist recounted the many advancements his presidential campaign made for raising awareness of his pet issues.
In taking on “the whole Democratic Party establishment,” Sanders praised his delegates who, in the run-up to the Democratic National Convention, crafted the “extremely progressive” party platform, which he promised would not be “sitting on a shelf somewhere collecting dust,” but rather would be a “blueprint for moving the Democrats forward.”
From free college tuition to a $15 minimum wage to expansion of Social Security benefits, positions once considered fringe were now driving mainstream debates, Sanders insisted.
Sanders briefly pivoted to the presidential election, acknowledging that although his former opponent, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, did not agree with his “Medicare for all” plan, she was now at least “talking about” doubling federal funding of community health centers. Sanders called that an “important step forward.”
Holding aloft the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, global trade deal and the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision as items to be stopped or overturned, Sanders stressed the significance of running for public office on the local level.
To help “hundreds of thousands of people fighting at the grassroots level,” the independent nonprofit organization Our Revolution is being formed, Sanders announced, with a board soon to be formed, partly led by his former campaign manager Jeff Weaver.
On the lookout for candidates running for school board, city council, state legislature, and even Congress, the political booster will also focus on ballot items that cover issues of gender equality, the environment, labor, health care and campaign finance, Sanders said.
From the YouTube stream on Sanders’ official campaign website, it appeared that about 30,000 viewers were tuning in at any given time. However, this number is likely much larger, as thousands of “watch parties” had been planned around the country, with even over 100 people showing up to an apartment in Washington, DC, according to Larry Cohen, former president of the Communications Workers of America, who spoke with RT’s Ed Schultz.
With all that Sanders’ presidential campaign accomplished, Schultz wondered what might come of the movement if Our Revolution “doesn’t get off to a great start.”
Cohen remained confident, with the first “number one national issue” being stopping the TPP trade deal in Congress this year.