Bernie Sanders: Democrats risk a crushing defeat this year. They must change course now

The following commentary is by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and republished from the U.S. Senate website.

At a moment in history when the leadership of the Republican party is undermining democracy, ignoring the climate crisis, trying to overturn Roe v Wade, opposing a minimum wage increase, embracing more tax breaks for the rich and the growth of oligarchy, and stopping us from passing serious gun safety legislation, it would be a disaster for this rightwing extremist party to gain control of the US House and US Senate. Unfortunately, it appears that the current strategy of the Democratic party is allowing that to happen.

Gage Skidmore/Flickr

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

According to numerous polls, the Republicans stand an excellent chance of winning this coming November. The main reason: while the Democratic party has, over the years, been hemorrhaging support from the white working class, it is now losing support from Latino, Black and Asian workers as well.

Further, in terms of the 2022 elections, the enthusiasm level within the Democratic base is extremely low. It is not only working-class support that is fading away but it is also that young people, who helped elect Biden and other Democrats in 2020, are becoming increasingly demoralized and are not likely to vote in large numbers in this coming election.

Why is this happening? Can this trajectory be changed?

During his campaign, Biden promised to be the most progressive president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. And during his first few months in office, with the strong support of Democrats in Congress, he kept that promise. At a time when Covid was wreaking havoc on the health and financial wellbeing of the American people, under President Biden’s leadership we passed the American Rescue Plan, the most consequential piece of legislation in modern history. This $1.9tn bill was effective in providing financial support to tens of millions of American families and businesses, stabilizing the economy and improving our response to Covid.

After the passage of this popular legislation in March 2021, President Biden had a 59% favorability rating, the highest of his presidency, and there was widespread support for what Democrats were doing. There was also a strong understanding that we had to go even further. The American Rescue Plan was an emergency bill that addressed the Covid-related problems facing the country. Now, with a new administration in office, the American people wanted us to address the long-neglected structural crises facing the working families of our country.

Amid grotesque and widening income and wealth inequality and decades of wage stagnation, the existential threat of the climate crisis, a rigged tax system and crises in healthcare, childcare and housing, the American people wanted Congress to finally stand up and represent their interests, not just the greed of wealthy campaign contributors. And that’s what the Build Back Better Act was about. Poll after poll showed overwhelming support for virtually every provision in that legislation.

Yes. The American people want the rich to pay their fair share of taxes. They want to lower the outrageous cost of prescription drugs, expand Medicare to cover dental, hearing aids and vision, address the crisis in home and healthcare, make childcare, pre-K and higher education affordable, establish a paid family and medical leave program and build the millions of units of affordable housing we need. Yes. The American people want us to invest heavily in combating global heating by transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels.

Unfortunately, despite strong support from the American people, despite the support of the president, despite passage in the House of Representatives, despite the support of 48 members of the Senate, two corporate Democrats – Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema – both of whom received millions of dollars in campaign contributions from billionaires and corporate interests – decided to sabotage that legislation. We needed 50 votes to pass Build Back Better. We had 48.

And it has been downhill ever since for the Democrats. After nine months of fruitless “negotiations” with Manchin and Sinema, the time is long overdue to realize that this is a path that leads to nowhere except defeat at the ballot box and the growing perception that the Democrats have turned their backs on working families. We need a new strategy. We need to take on Republicans. We need to fight back.

In an extremely difficult and unsettling time – inflation, the pandemic, the heating of the planet, gun violence, attacks on abortion rights, the war in Ukraine – the American people want their elected officials to stand up to powerful special interests and fight for them. Well. The Democrats control the White House, the Senate and the House – and yet that is not happening. They are being held accountable for their inaction, and they’re losing.

Is the situation hopeless? I don’t think so. But in order to turn the situation around, Democrats need a significant course correction. And, in doing that, they can learn a lesson from the 1948 campaign of Harry Truman. In 1948, nobody believed Truman had a chance to win that election. Strom Thurmond and the segregationists had bolted the party and Henry Wallace, a third-party candidate, was taking progressive votes away from Truman. Truman responded with a simple and straightforward strategy. Unlike today’s Democrats, he took the fight to the Republicans. He didn’t let them hide behind their whining and “do-nothingism.” He exposed them for what they were – tools of special interests. He made them vote on critical issues. And, time and again, they voted against the interests of working families. Truman showed the very clear difference between the parties – and he won.

What the Democrats need to do, right now, is to make it clear: they may have 50 votes in the Senate, but they do not have 50 votes to pass the legislation that the American people want and need. They have no Republican support and there are two Democrats who will vote with Republicans on important issues.

Now is the time to make democracy work. Let us bring to the Senate floor the crucial issues affecting working families and vote, vote and vote again. Even if we lost these votes, which is likely, the American people have the right to see where their elected officials stand. Make them vote!

In a given year there are billionaires and large, profitable corporations that do not pay a nickel in federal taxes. Let’s see how many Republicans will vote for real tax reform to end these loopholes.

Millions of workers continue to earn starvation wages. Let’s see how many Republicans will vote to raise the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour.

We pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. Let’s see how many Republicans will vote to have Medicare negotiate prescription drug prices and cut drug prices in half.

Many seniors are unable to afford the outrageous cost of dental care, hearing aids or vision care. Let’s see how many Republicans will vote to expand Medicare to cover these basic health care needs.

On average, the cost of childcare in this country is an unaffordable $15,000 a year, if parents can find an available slot. Let’s see how Republicans will vote to lower the cost of childcare and make pre-K free.

We are the only major country not to guarantee paid family and medical leave. Let’s see how many Republicans will vote to provide at least 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave for the working families of our country.

We have the highest level of child poverty of almost any major country. Let’s see how many Republicans will vote to continue the $300 a month child tax credit, which cut child poverty by over 40%.

Millions of seniors are struggling to survive on their inadequate Social Security benefits. Yet, the cap on Social Security taxation is $147,000. Let’s see how many Republicans will vote to lift the earnings cap and increase Social Security benefits.

The scientists tell us that time is running out to combat climate breakdown. Let’s see how many Republicans will vote to create millions of well-paying jobs transforming our energy system away from fossil fuel.

Workers who want to join unions are often unable to do so because of the illegal actions of their employers. Let’s see how many Republicans will vote to give workers a fair chance to unionize.

And that’s not all we must do.

We cannot allow murderers with AR-15s to continue to massacre children in schools or grocery stores. Let’s see how many Republicans will vote to pass strong and meaningful gun safety legislation.

The Democratic party cannot continue to ignore the needs of the working class of our country and expect to retain majority control in the US House and US Senate. It’s time to show which side we’re on. It’s time to start voting.

Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore/Flickr

10 thoughts on “Bernie Sanders: Democrats risk a crushing defeat this year. They must change course now

  1. Oh Bernie Bernie, hows are your millions doing, hows are your 5 homes, private plane, new cars, and boat??.. Have you done anything important yet? Besides running your mouth.. Heard you are going to run for president again. When you lose/quit again will you give back all the donations or just keep it as always??!!!!
    Bernie boy, you haven’t done a thing for Vermont since you moved here except mooch off of Vermonters..

  2. Democrats are the stuck on stupid party burnee… you shouldn’t have hitched your
    wagon to them… You could have pulled votes from them running on the Commie party
    platform and enlisted reps like the hate America squad and cong black carcass of low
    IQ’s. They won’t change course only push harder like you for your stupid unions which
    are just outdated modes of political fund raisers for demrats…We have hundreds of laws now protecting workers we don’t need unions, and we love America and freedom not communism so just retire and enjoy your ill gotten gains via the poor tax payer’s..

    • I agree the democrats are the stuck on stupid party. I disagree however that Bernie hitched his wagon to the democrats. He did begin in politics as seeking to be elected as a Socialist, and got nowhere. Then he switch to being an independent, and the insidious infiltration of the democrat party by he and his ilk about 40 plus years ago. The Vermont democrat party has enabled the proliferation of the Socialist movement led by Bernie that we see today under the guise of democrat socialists, so called independents, and progressives. He has sucked up to the democrats and claims to speak for them, as he refuses to become a democrat, while claiming to be an independent, and uses the democrats to spread his Socialist/Marxist revolution. Bernie seeks the complete destruction of the United States. He has been an embarrassment to all Vermonters for years, while the democrats have ensured he continues his Socialist/Marxist agenda. Bernie does need to retire, he has created, and is responsible for a tremendous amount of damage to Vermonters and the U.S. that shouldn’t be allowed to continue. Perhaps someday, the Democrat party in Vermont will reject its Socialist/Marxist agenda and return to what it was in the JFK era.

  3. That’s right, Bernie. Republicans are tools of special interests, and Democrats and their Build Back Better schemes are not, despite that ‘build back better’ is a repeated theme of those who follow after the World Economic Forum’s plans. Remind us again– exactly who are the strategic partners with the WEF? Ah, yes: the world’s largest corporations, including the largest banks and oil companies. They want to build back better but we’d prefer they’d put things back the way they were. Klaus Schwab, head of the WEF, was absolutely gleeful when Covid caused lockdowns worldwide. What was up with that? Maybe Klaus wants a world-wide technocratic government led by none other than the WEF and its partners and stakeholders, who just so happen to be the wealthiest individuals who meet yearly at the WEF-sponsored Davos convocations. But … Republicans are grovelling at the feet of big business?

    Many people are waking up to the pseudoscience of global warming, perhaps after they’ve been shocked by the gross incompetence and malfeasance of the medical establishment in the outrageous denial of safe and effective early treatment for Covid-19 (what kind of ‘science’ is that?) What was that about, Senator, when cheap drugs used safely for decades were denied and doctors who dared to prescribe these were (and are) hunted down? What on earth was that about? Do you suppose people are too stupid to see? And who gained from all that? Drug companies like Pfizer (partner with the WEF!) that are notorious for pushing questionable and expensive medicines on the American public? How on earth does it make sense that we still see people in Vermont so scared of Covid that they wear masks walking outside alone? Or in their cars, alone? Or young people hiking with masks on? Believe it or not, I saw these things just today. What’s that about? Most of us are over Covid and done with it, not because of the vaccines– which are an utter failure because our cases and deaths are as high as before the vaccines– but because we’re tired of the relentless fear porn and realize that’s no way to live.

    Last time I checked, vaccines were supposed to cause a drop in cases and deaths for the targeted disease. Look at the VTDigger Covid dashboard and tell us what you see.

    Democrats deserve to get utterly creamed, and we need to take back our country from the partners with the WEF who have willing minions (in the ‘stay safe’ Democratic party) who fall for the crap that our government has been dishing out to us. There is no catastrophic CO2 warming, and maybe you should listen to what the skeptic say and realize that there’s a great deal of valid debate over CO2, and the radiative paradigm for catastrophic warming is just plain wrong. Self-consistent, yes, but dead wrong. Nonetheless, much of the media– partners with the WEF, too?– are relentless in pushing this pseudoscience. Perhaps the goal is so that we’ll all be so scared that we’ll welcome a benevolent, all-caring planetary government headed by the WEF and Greta Thunberg to ‘stay safe’? How else would we comply except if they can get us scared out of our wits that we’re headed for yet another ‘tipping point’ with yet another nine years to go until the point of no return?

    “The scientists tell us that time is running out to combat climate breakdown.” That sounds a lot like: “Covid is going to kill us all unless we get our vaccines and then we can return to normal.” We’ll Covid didn’t kill the untold millions projected (by Scientists!) and we’re pretty much back to normal, no thanks to the worthless vaccines.

    And I’m really tired of hearing about the January 6 ‘insurrection’ when we have numerous videos of police letting protesters in– I doubt very much that the January 6 committee showed any of that. That’s not ‘insurrection’; that’s police letting protesters in and then the cameras rolling and some bad actors getting out-of-hand (after police let many of these people in) and then everyone yelling and screaming about what a terrible threat those deplorables are to our democracy. How about: you want to keep the people out, then you don’t let them in? What are you missing here, Bernie?

    Oh, and those kids gunning down other kids? How about we stop pumping them full of psychiatric drugs, for starters?

    I say we get out the vote, alright, and throw the bums out. We don’t need a ‘stay safe’ government. We need the government to leave we, the people, alone. And then after we throw them out, we need to get busy hunting down those who’ve been promoting this entire fear-porn based Great Narrative of death and disaster and hold them to account for their deceptions, which seem to have been designed all along simply to scare people into compliance and test how far their obedience can be pushed.

    No more ‘stay safe.’ Stay free. We owe this to our children’s children.


  4. Upon first reflection, I was certain this was some Babylon Bee satire. But, upon further consideration and hoping the Republican party is smart, I’d like to think the GOP ingeniously hired the ole Commie as a campaign marketing writer/consultant for the upcoming midterm elections. This b-s is priceless. Keep up the good work, Bernie!

  5. Bernie is the leader of current ruling oligarchy. Who is he trying to kid?

    He needs a therapist… or another one.

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