Common Dreams | 18 November, 2016
The election of a right-wing, repressive government led by President-elect Donald Trump and a Republican-dominated Congress has the American left searching for ways to mount a resistance and regain ground in future elections.
Many have found an answer in progressive figures such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), it seems, as crowds of young people are once again gathering to hear the senator speak.
The senator has spoken out multiple times in the days since Trump’s election, arguing that the Democratic party needs to make greater efforts to reach working-class people and overhaul its leadership; vowing that progressives will “not go silently into the night“; and promising to resist Trump’s repressive, right-wing policy plans.
When news emerged that Sanders would speak at a book signing in Baltimore, Maryland, on Thursday, students at Johns Hopkins University waited in line for as long as six hours to hear the senator speak.
“This is definitely the most interest we’ve received in years,” said Teddy Kupfer, a Hopkins senior and lecture organizer, to the Baltimore Sun.
“An estimated 2,000 people filled the auditorium and overflow rooms,” the Sun reported:
Joshan Bajaj, a Hopkins junior who campaigned for Sanders back home in Princeton, N.J., was first in line; he showed up at 1 p.m. for the 7 p.m. appearance.
“He is definitely looking out for the common man,” Bajaj said. “I like his message of social equality. It’s not socialism, but I like his more socialist ideas, like how he wants free college and how he wants a $15 minimum wage.”
During his Thursday lecture, Sanders once again made his case that Democrats urgently need to address the rapidly shrinking middle class in order to win future elections.
“Democrats too often have ignored that over a 40-year period […] the middle class of this country has been shrinking,” Sanders told the crowd at Johns Hopkins, according tothe Baltimore Sun. “Real wages for American workers have gone down. Inequality has gone up. Those are real issues, and the Democratic Party has got to address them.”
“One of the most valuable lessons of Sanders’ campaign was that it proved to the Democratic Party that a presidential candidate doesn’t just win support by moving to the left, but can actually capture the imagination of increasingly disillusioned voters left behind by both major parties,” observes progressive commentator Sonali Kolhatkar.
Part of fighting for the middle class means rejecting corporate donations and corporate influence, the Vermont senator argued.
“If Mr. Trump has the guts to stand up to […] corporations,” Sanders challenged the president-elect earlier on Thursday, “he will have an ally with me.”
Sanders’ post-election influence is so strong, it seems, that New Jersey Democrats are even vying for an endorsement from the avowed Democratic socialist in the race to replace New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.