Don't Believe the Establishment Line for a Second

Bernie Sanders / Reader Supported News
Don't Believe the Establishment Line for a Second U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, greets supporters before speaking at a town hall event in Springfield on Saturday, September 4, 2021. (photo: Glenn Russell/VT Digger)

Let's be clear. It's not easy taking on the corporate establishment, the political establishment, and the media establishment. At a time when the people on top have never had it so good, each of these institutions, in their own way, are fiercely dedicated to maintaining the status quo in terms of income and wealth inequality, concentration of ownership, and corporate greed.

What we as progressives have done, unique in modern history, is to make it clear that ordinary Americans are NOT content with the status quo. At a time when real wages for working people are lower today than they were almost 50 years ago and half our people live paycheck to paycheck, when tens of millions can't find affordable housing or health care or childcare, the working families of our country want change, REAL change. And that is a major threat to the establishment.

Poll after poll shows that the American people support our agenda: a livable minimum wage, Medicare for All, substantially lower drug prices, progressive taxation, and major federal investments in the needs of our children, housing, higher education, and climate change. In essence, they want a government that works for all, not just a few. And candidates who are running on these issues are winning.

In response to our success, the establishment is making a major effort to imply that the progressive movement is in decline, that our agenda is being rejected, and that all that the American people have a right to expect in the future are tiny, incremental steps forward.

Don't believe the establishment line for a second.

Over the past several months, progressive candidates across the country have won their congressional primaries, and are strongly favored to win again in November. Many of them have won their elections despite millions in billionaire-funded super PAC money being thrown against them. These are candidates who have the guts to challenge the status quo and fight for the working class. And their constituents are with them.

The truth is that, everything being equal, there will likely be more strong progressives in the U.S. House in January than at any time in modern history. Our movement is growing.

Today I'd like to introduce you to some of the progressive candidates who have already won their primaries. Some of them you likely already know, and others are running for Congress for the first time. While all of them are favored to win in November, we have to make certain that happens.

Jasmine Crockett (TX-30) is a Texas State Representative, a civil rights and criminal defense attorney, and founding member and Vice Chair of the Texas Progressive Caucus. When it comes to voting rights, standing up for working families, passing meaningful criminal justice reform, and being a pro-choice champion, Jasmine has always delivered.

Greg Casar (TX-35) is an Austin City Council Member and movement organizer who has supported working families from San Antonio to Hays County to East Austin. The proud son of Mexican immigrants, Greg has passed policies to protect families from being separated, raised wages for thousands of workers, and has successfully fought to expand civil rights protections.

Summer Lee (PA-12) is a dedicated organizer, attorney, and progressive state legislator who took on a 20-year incumbent, doubled voter turnout, and won. Throughout her time in office, she has been a champion for sustainable jobs, environmental justice, police accountability, reproductive rights, immigration rights, and gender and racial equity. She's a tireless advocate for workers’ rights, unions, and the right to organize.

Jonathan Jackson (IL-01) comes from a proud legacy of public service. He is the son of civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson and he has a deep understanding of the struggle to fight for social change. He is ready to put Chicago's working class families first on the issues that matter most – from Medicare for All to a Green New Deal to telling the billionaire class that they cannot have it all.

Delia Ramirez (IL-03) is the daughter of working-class Guatemalan immigrants who saw the heartbreaking financial crises that her parents and many others in her community endured, hoping to provide a better life for their children. Now Delia is a state legislator, social service director, and community leader who has dedicated her life to advocating for working families.

Becca Balint (VT At-large) is a teacher, former union member, and president of the Vermont State Senate who has passed huge investments in affordable housing, protected reproductive rights, and has always strongly advocated for unions and working people. She understands the urgent need for our progressive movement to stand together in the fight for justice.

In addition to these new progressive candidates that we have supported, we are obviously working hard to protect incumbent progressives. The following incumbents, against strong corporate opposition, have already won their primaries.

Cori Bush (MO-01) is an activist, nurse, pastor, and community leader who is redefining what it means to be a member of Congress. She has lived the struggles regular, everyday people endure — from the impact of skyrocketing housing costs to payday lending to systemic racism in policing. Her mission is to do the very most for her community — starting with those who have the very least.

Rashida Tlaib (MI-12) is the proud daughter of Palestinian immigrants and grew up in a working-class family in southwest Detroit. She is a bold, transformative leader who fights for families of all backgrounds, especially those who’ve been left out and marginalized. In Congress, she is guided by the belief that everyone — not just the wealthy and privileged — deserves access to opportunity and a better quality of life.

Ilhan Omar (MN-05) is a leader of incredible courage. Since being elected to Congress in 2018, she has been a voice for the voiceless and a fierce advocate for working families and the millions of Americans who can’t afford to pay for lobbyists. She has led efforts in Congress on canceling student debt, providing school meals year-round to students, and protecting workers' rights.

There are a number of primary elections that have not yet taken place and, among others, we are working hard to support the following progressive champions.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) shocked the political establishment with her primary victory in 2018, and she has been a leader for our movement in Congress ever since. Her first piece of legislation was the Green New Deal Resolution to address the climate crisis and create millions of union jobs in the process. She has fought tirelessly to create a country that works for us all, not just a wealthy few.

Jamaal Bowman (NY-16) is a former teacher and principal who spent his early years in public housing and rent-controlled apartments. He has seen firsthand the results of inadequate housing, homelessness, mental health, the racist immigration system, the school to prison pipeline, and food deserts. These are the issues that motivated him to run for Congress.

Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) understood from a young age the role that government can play in lifting up families and communities, thanks to her mom who was a tenant rights organizer. Ayanna has taken that same bold, activist leadership to Congress where she is fighting to raise the wage from a starvation wage, reform our broken criminal justice system, and defend women's reproductive rights.

In the U.S. Senate we are strongly supporting Mandela Barnes who has an excellent chance to defeat one of the most reactionary members of the Senate.

Mandela Barnes (WI-SEN) is the son of a Milwaukee school teacher and General Motors worker. His parents were both active union members, and their example showed him the importance of demanding dignity on the job. In the Senate, Mandela can become the deciding vote to end the filibuster so we can finally pass transformative legislation that this country needs, and that the American people want.

We are living in an unprecedented moment in American history. Democrats in Washington must show that they have the courage to act boldly and decisively in addressing the multiple crises we face.

Now is the time to restore the faith of the American people that they have a government in this country that is working for them, not just the 1%.

That's why electing these progressive candidates is so important. These are candidates who understand that now is not the time to think small. It is the time to act aggressively to address the needs of the working class and to also address the many social and environmental crises we face.

Between now and November, I will be traveling the country to rally our people around an agenda that is based on economic justice, social justice, racial justice, and environmental justice. Starting next weekend, I will be holding two rallies in Philadelphia and Boston where I will be joined by Teamsters President Sean O'Brien and Sara Nelson, the President of the Association of Flight Attendants.

The rally in Philadelphia will take place at Independence Mall at 4pm ET on Saturday, August 20. Then the next day I will travel to Boston for another rally at Cambridge Common Park at 1pm ET on Sunday, August 21. If you live in those areas, we'd love to see you.

We must never stop fighting for the kind of nation we know we can become.

Thank you for all you've done, and will do, to carry our progressive movement forward.

In solidarity,

Bernie Sanders



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