Bernie Sanders: ‘It Is Not Good Enough for Someone to Say, “I’m a Woman, Vote for Me”‘

ELECTION 2016
The insurgent who challenged Hillary Clinton said that the party needs to go “beyond identity politics.”

Photo Credit: twitter.com/BernieSanders

Former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is stepping up his critique of the Democratic Party taking an indirect swing at Hillary Clinton and other party leaders who he said don’t pay enough attention to inequality.

Democrats, according to the independent Vermont senator, need “go beyond identity politics” and use economic arguments to win elections rather than rely primarily on racial or gender appeals.

Sanders made his remarks following a speech he gave on Sunday at the Berklee Performance Center in Boston when a supporter asked him what advice he might give to help her become the second Latina U.S. senator.

Acknowledging that he was responding to his questioner “in a way that you may not be happy with,” Sanders said that he cared less about a candidate’s outward appearance than he did about his or her ideas.

“It is not good enough for someone to say, ‘I’m a woman, vote for me.’ No, that’s not good enough. What we need is a woman who has the guts to stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, to the fossil fuel industry.”

The debate over how to handle Clinton’s loss to Republican Donald Trump has been roiling the Democratic Party ever since Election Night. Sanders acknowledged the contention, saying that it revealed a “division within the Democratic Party.”

Despite his call for more of a focus on economic issues, Sanders repeatedly stressed that he supported racial and sexual diversity efforts, even if they were insufficient to get most Americans onboard.

“It goes without saying that as we fight to end all forms of discrimination, as we fight to bring more and more women into the political process, Latinos, African Americans, Native Americans. All of that is enormously important, and count me in as somebody who wants to see that happen,” Sanders said before discussing populism.

Echoing themes that he had touched on throughout his presidential campaign (and that Bill Clinton had privately and futilely tried to get Democratic elites to accept), Sanders argued that Democrats had lost touch with typical Americans and that was what led to the Trump victory.

“The working class of this country is being decimated,” he said. “That’s why Donald Trump won. And what we need now are candidates who stand with those working people, who understand that real median family income has gone down, that young people in many parts of this country have a very limited future, that life expectancy for many workers is going down.”

He continued:

“People can’t afford health care, can’t afford medicine, can’t afford to send their kids to college. We need candidates — black and white and Latino and gay and male. We need all of that. But we need all of those candidates and public officials to have the guts to stand up to the oligarchy. That is the fight of today.”

Below is the full text of Sanders’ statement, as provided by Boston Magazine reporter Kyle Scott Clauss:

Let me respond to the question in a way that you may not be happy with.

It goes without saying that as we fight to end all forms of discrimination, as we fight to bring more and more women into the political process, Latinos, African Americans, Native Americans — all of that is enormously important, and count me in as somebody who wants to see that happen.

But it is not good enough for somebody to say, “Hey, I’m a Latina, vote for me,” That is not good enough. I have to know whether that Latina is going to stand up with the working class of this country, and is going to take on big money interests.

One of the struggles that we’re going to have right now, we lay on the table of the Democratic Party, is it’s not good enough to me to say, ‘OK, well, we’ve got X number of African Americans over here, we’ve got Y number of Latinos, we have Z number of women. We are a diverse party, a diverse nation. Not good enough. We need that diversity, that goes without saying. That is accepted. Right now, we’ve made some progress in getting women into politics. I think we got 20 women in the Senate now. We need 50 women in the Senate. We need more African-Americans.

But, but, here is my point, and this is where there is going to be division within the Democratic Party. It is not good enough for someone to say, “I’m a woman, vote for me.” No, that’s not good enough. What we need is a woman who has the guts to stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, to the fossil fuel industry.

In other words, one of the struggles that you’re going to be seeing in the Democratic Party is whether we go beyond identity politics. I think it’s a step forward in America if you have an African-American head or CEO of some major corporation. But you know what, if that guy is going to be shipping jobs out of his country and exploiting his workers, doesn’t mean a whole hell of a lot if he’s black or white or Latino.

And some people may not agree with me, but that is the fight that we’re going to have right now in the Democratic Party. The working class of this country is being decimated. That’s why Donald Trump won. And what we need now are candidates who stand with those working people, who understand that real median family income has gone down, that young people in many parts of this country have a very limited future, that life expectancy for many workers is going down. People can’t afford health care, can’t afford medicine, can’t afford to send their kids to college.

We need candidates — black and white and Latino and gay and male. We need all of that. But we need all of those candidates and public officials to have the guts to stand up to the oligarchy. That is the fight of today.

 

Matthew Sheffield is a journalist currently working on a book about the future of the Republican Party. You may follow him on Twitter: @mattsheffield. This article is reprinted by permission from Praxis.

http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/bernie-sanders-identity-politics?akid=14904.265072.5hf2Gu&rd=1&src=newsletter1067682&t=12

One comment on “Bernie Sanders: ‘It Is Not Good Enough for Someone to Say, “I’m a Woman, Vote for Me”‘

  1. mihipte says:

    If the realignment we seem to be experiencing results in a Trump party and a Sanders party, I’ll be a conservative in the Sanders party. In 2012 the libertarian flag was lifted pretty high, but now it’s been dropped. If the progressives are picking it up, I’m following them.

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