Common Dreams | 17 April, 2017
Sanders won Maine’s presidential caucuses by nearly two-thirds when he ran in the 2016 primaries against Hillary Clinton. The tour is expected to take him and Perez through Maine, Kentucky, Florida, Nebraska, Utah, Montana, Arizona, and Nevada—the red and purple states where the Vermont socialist swept up the kind of blue-collar support that Democrats often fall short on, turning him from a fringe candidate to a formidable challenger and bringing his brand of progressive populism to the forefront of the race.
The two are expected to speak in favor of a $15 minimum wage, women’s equality, combating climate change, criminal justice reform, debt-free education, and other issues.
“Regardless of where they live or their political affiliations, most people understand that it is absurd for Republicans in Congress to support huge tax breaks for billionaires while pushing for cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid,” Sanders and Perez said Monday.
Their tour comes as Democrats continue to take stock of their shocking 2016 defeat and strategize on reforming the party.
Perez, who was elected as DNC chair in February, last month asked for the resignations of all the organization’s staffers. The deadline passed this weekend. Many saw the move as a sign of Sanders’ continuing influence on the party, which has also led Democrats to draft an economic agenda—to be unveiled as early as this summer—that is expected to take its cues from the senator’s populist rhetoric.
Sanders also criticized lawmakers for what he saw as a failure to sufficiently help James Thompson, a civil rights lawyer and veteran, in last week’s special election when he ran for the Kansas U.S. House seat vacated by CIA chief Mike Pompeo.
“It is true that the Democratic Party should have put more resources into that election,” Sanders said on CNN‘s “State of the Union” of the Thompson campaign. “But it is also true that he ran 20 points better than the Democratic candidate for president did in Kansas.”
“So many of our people are giving up on the political process,” he continued. “It is very frightening. In the last presidential election, when Trump won, we had the lowest voter turnout over—in 20 years. And in the previous two years before that, in the midterm election, we had the lowest voter turnout in 70 years. We’re going to be fighting to see that the Democratic Party becomes a 50-state party. You can’t just be a West Coast party and an East Coast party.”