Bernie Sanders urges progressives to seek
more electoral wins
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[June 12, 2017]
By Chris Kenning
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Buoyed by the British
Labour Party election gains this week, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on
Saturday urged a summit of progressive activists who propelled his
presidential candidacy to ramp up efforts to win elections and help
remake a Democratic Party he deemed a failure.
"They won those seats by standing up to the ruling class," he said,
referring to the British elections and citing wins by progressive U.S.
candidates in several state and local races while writing off losses as
evidence liberal progressives could still be competitive even in
But Sanders, who lost the Democratic nomination nearly a year ago to
Hillary Clinton, showed little interest in a push by "Draft Bernie"
activists who want him to start his own "People's Party." Many activists
blame establishment Democrats for losing to President Donald Trump by
failing to embrace a more populist left-leaning agenda.
Sanders headlined the three-day "People's Summit" in Chicago, attended
by celebrity activists including actors Danny Glover and John Cusack,
which brought together main progressive groups such as National Nurses
United, Democratic Socialists of America and People for Bernie.
Many activists said they hoped to transform the momentum from recent
protests such as January's Women's March in Washington into concrete
plans to support a growing wave of grassroots candidates to secure
"We could have 10,000 people marching, but if we don't have some means
of translating that into winning political office and enacting a
legislative progressive agenda, at the end of the day, what does it
amount to?" said Nick Brana, the former staffer for the Sanders campaign
leading the "Draft Bernie" group.
With Trump mired in controversy over incidents such as the firing of
former FBI Director James Comey, and Democrats having lost ground in
statehouses and in Congress, RoseAnn Demoro, head of the nurses union,
said the movement Sanders began was at a "tipping point" of broadening
[to top of second column]
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks at the "People's Summit", an
annual gathering of influential progressive groups, in Chicago,
Illionois, U.S. June 10, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Kenning
Leaders with the Democratic Socialists of America said their
membership has bloomed from 6,000 before the election to 22,000.
Others warned that progressives donít have the fundraising firepower
they need or that gains were still fledgling.
"We're closer but we're not yet winning," said activist and writer
Still, Sanders credited progressives with increasing public
acceptance of proposals such as a $15 minimum wage, renegotiating
trade policies and offering free college tuition. He got a standing
ovation when he said the California Senate recently passed a
single-payer health care plan.
(Reporting by Chris Kenning; Editing by Robert Birsel)
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