When the Kamala Harris announcement was made last week, one of the first tweets I saw (Twitter being my de facto news feed) was from Bernie Sanders, in support.
My view is that after we elect Biden, what we’re going to do is everything that we possibly can to move his administration in a progressive direction. Biden has told me, and I would not say it if he hadn’t made the same statement publicly, that he intends to be the most progressive president since FDR. That’s a noble ambition, and our job is to hold him to that goal. I think millions of people are prepared to do that.
This week or next, maybe I’ll be able to finish a particularly vexing, ongoing ON THE AVENUES column draft, in which I’ve been trying to sort through the arguments and counter-arguments running through my brain with respect to my choices in this year’s presidential election.
I’m not there yet. But you can see where I’m headed.
Bernie Sanders on How He’ll Rally Progressives Tonight, by John Nichols (The Nation)
In an exclusive interview with The Nation, the Vermont senator says backing Biden/Harris is the start of their work, not the finish.
JOHN NICHOLS: When you were campaigning for president, you spoke quite frequently about the New Deal and Franklin Roosevelt’s “Economic Bill of Rights.” It was part of your effort to frame the 2020 election around fundamental issues and the need for structural change. Obviously, you didn’t know at the time that Covid and mass unemployment, and a rising demand for racial justice, would heighten the sense of urgency. But even before the crisis unfolded, you saw a need for a politics that was focused on transformative change.
BERNIE SANDERS: Absolutely. Absolutely. It is imperative that we not only deal with all of the injustices and inequalities that exist in our society today, which of course have been made worse by the pandemic and the economic meltdown, but it is also imperative that we start, in the 21st century, to rethink our value systems.
What Roosevelt did in his State of the Union speech in 1944 was really quite extraordinary. For whatever reason—we were in the middle of a war then and, of course, he died a year later; the media was not particularly sympathetic—what he said back in 1944 has been largely forgotten. But what he said was extraordinarily profound and revolutionary.
What he said is that, yes, our country has political freedom. We have a Constitution. We have a Bill of Rights. We have freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, etc., and that’s all great. But what we have to do is go beyond just political rights and into economic rights.
In other words, it’s not good enough that you just have the constitutional right to vote (that’s good!), to protest (that’s great!), to assemble (that’s wonderful!), and freedom of religion (great!).
What we have got to be talking about, Roosevelt said in 1944, is that economic rights are human rights, and that means you are entitled, as an American, to decent housing, to decent health care, to a decent job, to a decent retirement. Economic rights are human rights, and you’re not going to be a really free person unless we guarantee those rights. That was an extraordinarily profound statement!
What I tried to do in the 2020 campaign is talk about Roosevelt’s 1944 speech and how we make it relevant to the year 2020 …