From the BBC to Politico to Bernie pages across Facebook the question of Bernie Sanders jumping into the 2020 Presidential race is on the rise. Sanders has yet to say definitively and his responses are always familiar. He either says “I am working on the Midterms” or “We have a lot to do before that decision will be made.”
Very standard Bernie Sanders stuff.
However, I was in San Antonio Friday night and I was lucky enough to catch both of his speeches. One was to a small crowd at a fundraiser. It was a mixed bag of ticket purchasers paying over $100 for the privilege of seeing the by now well known Junior Senator from Vermont review the issues and speak to the further work needed by regular Americans in the Political Revolution his 2016 Presidential run inspired. The crowd also included some of the now familiar “Bernies” that have become the leaders and soldiers in the movement working across Texas within the first state chapter of Our Revolution that was founded in the wake of the Sanders campaign in late 2016.
Every Bernie in the room was thrilled to hear the Senator and Ill bet that not one of them would have been surprised to hear anything more than the standard stump speech, outlining the issues that drew us each into his movement in the first place. But there were some subtle differences that stood out. While we are all following orders to get involved and run for seats from “dog catcher to Senate”, Bernie has been doing some strategy work.
Now before you get too excited, he did not say anything about the 2020 election. There weren’t even hints or teasers to quote. But I will outline the new things he included, and you tell me what you think he is up to.
The first real difference I heard was during his common sense take on the moneyed interests influence within both parties. Basically, he explains how corporations and oligarchs are not working for the people of America and that “establishment” efforts are what we are fighting with our progressive platform. This usually follows with a list of progressive democrats or just a shout out to “Vote for Progressive Democrats”. This time though the Democrat specification was missing, and the call was for Electing Progressive Texans. I will note that he did call for “Blue Texas” so although he isn’t hammering the Dem support home like he did in the past he is obviously still supporting the party he caucuses with and don’t forget it is the party he has called his millions of supporters to join as leaders.
That call has not gone unanswered more and more Sanders Supporters are becoming Precinct Chairs, sitting on rules committees and paying attention very closely to county and State party news. The San Antonio chapter of Our Revolution backed Rick Trevino For congressional district 23 and that garnered him a spot on the National list of OR endorsed candidates. Trevino made the run off by slim margins most likely based on that support. The main focus of all the speakers was the repetition of get involved. Jim Hightower told the crowd “We can’t do it without you.” Nina Turner, former Ohio Senator and Our Revolution President closed with a new take the famous Harriet Tubman poem “If we want Healthcare for all we will…” and thousands echoed back “Keep Going”.
A refreshing part of the Senators current talking points is hearing clear calls to action for Gun Control and Immigration Reform. These issues were glaring omissions to many supporters and detractors during the 2016 race. Sanders didn’t sugar coat his plea either. Speaking to the rescinding of the 2012 Obama Executive Order for Childhood Arrivals had Sanders at his most animated moment calling the move “immoral” and “cruel”. In Texas this is a big deal and that stance will go a long way to rallying the Texas progressives.
Texans of all sorts see themselves as a powerful piece of the American political landscape and are used to seeing many of their own representatives go on to take large roles within White House Administrations. Sanders agrees saying that “if we can win in Texas we can win across America”. He went on to say that he sees Texas as an important part of American Politics and he is right to call attention to the work being done in the Red state. Getting the apathetic to stand up and fight is hard all over the country but for the liberals and the left in Texas it has been a no-win situation for so long it’s going to take a lot of hope and help to get enough of them to the polls to make a difference.
If Bernie Sanders is making plans for another swipe at the White House in 2020 Texas will be a big part of that strategy. Clearly that decision will unfold after the 2018 polls close. Judging on the energy and success so far it is looking like he has already secured his legacy of Progressive change through Our Revolution. For the millions out there hoping for a Bernie Ticket in 2020 it looks like Sanders is willing to dangle that carrot through the Midterms. So you decide. Will he or won’t he. But either way if you support his progressive platform the same platform his influence moved the Democratic Party to accept in 2016 the message from Sanders is clear “You can’t sit the one out, the stakes are too high.”