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Bernie man: At Minneapolis rally, Sanders stumps for Ellison, urges DFLers to 'get out into the streets'

Sen. Bernie Sanders
MinnPost photo by Tony Nelson
Sen. Bernie Sanders’ speech to those who packed the floor and balcony of the music club focused on issues important to progressives across the country such as health care, the economy and the environment, Sanders also challenged his supporters to get and remain active.

It wasn’t so much a fundraiser, though there was a pitch for money.

It was more of an enthusiasm-raiser.

The Bernie Sanders Reunion at First Avenue in downtown Minneapolis Friday seemed intent not just on getting the Vermont senator’s supporters back together — but getting them excited to work for DFL candidates on the ballot this year.

The primary beneficiary was the campaign of the guy that sponsored the event: U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, who is running for attorney general of Minnesota. But also riding whatever wave was triggered by the mid-morning rally was U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, who introduced Ellison and joined in the traditional arm-in-arm-in-arm photo op at the end of the rally.

Sanders, a Democratic Socialist who was a candidate for the Democratic nomination in 2016 — and who sounded like a candidate in 2020 — was repaying the support given him by Ellison. The Minneapolis Democrat was a prominent endorser of Sanders in the latter’s run against Hillary Clinton — support that was amplified by coming early in the 2016 election cycle.

And while much of Sanders’ speech to those who packed the floor and balcony of the music club focused on issues important to progressives across the country such as health care, the economy and the environment, Sanders also challenged his supporters to get and remain active. “The antidote to political depression is activism,” he said.

While he complimented Minnesota’s highest-in-the-nation voter participation (joking that Vermont was bent on topping it), he also said that Minnesota could still do better.

“The political revolution that Keith and I and others have talked about is not just a progressive agenda that speaks to the needs of working families, it is the need to create a national grassroots movement where ordinary people stand up to the billionaire class and take back this country,” Sanders said. “By electing Keith, and reelecting Tina and Amy [Klobuchar], you guys can help lead this country in that direction.”

Addressing those in the room as “brothers and sisters,” Sanders said that his positions on issues are shared by majorities of Americans. “Our job  — in a way that we have never done it before — is to get out into the streets and make it clear what Trump stands for and make it clear what our alternative, progressive vision is about,” Sanders said. “When you work hard and talk to people and knock on doors, there is nothing that we can’t accomplish.”

Sanders called Ellison’s decision to give up his seat in the U.S. House and run for attorney general “bittersweet.”

“But Keith has concluded — and I think it is the right decision — that he can play more of a role in fighting for working people, in fighting for consumers and farmers, for small businesses, for women’s rights, for health care, for equal protection under the law by becoming the next attorney general of the state of Minnesota.”

‘Much bigger’ than the AG’s office

Most of Sanders’ 34-minute speech was focused on national issues, and he took credit for a political revolution that changed how Americans think about economic issues such as minimum wages and health care. Sanders was an early national supporter of a $15 minimum wage and a single-payer, Medicare-for-all health care system.

Those ideas, he said, were once labeled “radical and crazy” but have since gained acceptance. “On virtually every major issue facing the people of this country, the overwhelming majority of Americans are on our side,” Sanders said.

Rep. Keith Ellison
MinnPost photo by Tony Nelson
Rep. Keith Ellison: “Attorneys general all over this country led the fight against the Muslim ban. That fight was attorneys general, it was Hawaii vs. Trump.”

Ellison used his 10-minute comments both to introduce Sanders and to motivate those in attendance. “For me, yes it is about winning the Minnesota attorney general’s office,” said Ellison. “It is about that. But it’s not only about that. It’s much bigger than that. Our nation is at a moment in history where every noble, decent, fair, green impulse is under attack.

“What we really need you to do when you leave here today is to ask yourself a question. I want you to say ‘Self, what can I do a little bit more to turn out the vote, to engage one more person, two more people. What if I registered one person a day until the election?”

Ellison will share the August 14 DFL ballot with the DFL-endorsed candidate Matt Pelikan, as well as state Rep. Debra Hilstrom, former state commerce commissioner Mike Rothman and former Ramsey County attorney Tom Foley. On the Republican side, state Sen. Robert Lessard is facing off against GOP-endorsed candidate Doug Wardlow.

Like the other DFL candidates for attorney general, Ellison sees the office in a different light since the election of Donald Trump as president; Democratic AGs around the country have led the legal challenges to Trump policies from the travel ban to net neutrality.

“Attorneys general all over this country led the fight against the Muslim ban,” Ellison said. “That fight was attorneys general, it was Hawaii vs. Trump.” And while the Trump Administration’s third iteration of the travel ban was upheld by the Supreme Court, he said: “This fight ain’t over, y’all.”

He said there are pending legal battles over family separations at the southern border. “As attorney general, I will fight this, I promise you,” he said.

He also cited cases regarding net neutrality and economic justice, specifically the sanctions against Wells Fargo for abusing customers accounts. “If somebody opens up 20 accounts in your names and you didn’t ask for them? We’re going to sue the shit out of them,” Ellison said.

Any mention of recent Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was met by boos. And Kavanaugh didn’t appear to gain any Senate votes in Minneapolis Friday. Both Smith and Sanders said they would oppose his confirmation.

“I have zero doubt that Kavanaugh will join the other four right-wing justices and vote against women’s rights, vote against the environment, vote against health care, vote against workers’ rights,” Sanders said. “And together we must do everything we can to prevent his appointment to the Supreme Court.”

Smith cited her concerns about a future Supreme Court reversing the previous ruling that the U.S. Constitution gives women the right to choose to terminate pregnancies, the case known as Roe v. Wade.

“He was selected from a list that was carefully handpicked from the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation. A group that is all about putting people that are behind the most powerful interests in this country on the United States Supreme Court,” Smith said. “And what has the President said about this nominee. He has said that he will absolutely put somebody on the Supreme Court who he is sure will tear down Roe vs Wade.”

She also said she is wary of statements and speeches made by Kavanaugh that sitting presidents should not be subject to investigations. “Now I am going to fight that,” she said. “Are you going to fight that with me? That is what this election is about, and that is what the election of Keith Ellison is about.”

As a member of the House, Ellison won’t have a vote on the nomination, but as deputy chair of the Democratic Party will play a role in how the organization responds: “Don’t you think for a minute that we cannot defeat this right-wing, reactionary, so-called Justice Kavanaugh. We can beat him too.”

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Comments (8)

"the need to create a

"the need to create a national grassroots movement where ordinary people stand up to the billionaire class and take back this country"

The rally cry of every Communist, ever.

Problem is, Communism merely replaced the exchange of cash money for lead bullets so the elites could live like kings.

We're not going to be duped.

We have crossed the Rubicon in American politics

Bernie Sanders and Keith Ellison are among the best politicians working within the Democratic Party for social democracy which, in every other advanced capitalist country in the world, is considered a mainstream center-left political program. In the United States, the most extremely far-right capitalist country, it is consider far-left because Americans are the most ignorant people in the world about politics and economics. While I greatly admire and support Bernie and Keith, for many reasons I think it is now too late to create a mass movement for racial and gender equity and social and economic justice which can result in taking control of the federal and many state governments in America as the far-right has done.

I think we have crossed the Rubicon and the fascists and their followers (almost all Republicans) will dominate American politics and support (often unknowingly but also violently) our oligarchy and its American Empire as it declines and until it falls as all empires do. Anyone who is awake knows the coming years will be increasingly painful and even lethal for those who are not wealthy except to some degree for the gatekeepers to their hegemony and the enforcers of their power. Personally, I will continue to try to do what I can to shelter people from the storm of the hard rain falling, but I do this in spite of what I know not because I think there is any realistic hope for a "power to the people" future for this country or Disney movie happy ending for the planet.

The only good news in all this is when climate change (or some insane nuclear war) finally puts an end to our fossil fuel and high tech dominated existence, Mother Earth's other beings will be better off as human beings are returned to their earlier existence as hunter-gathers.

Agree

As one who has lived and worked abroad in several nations, both developed and underdeveloped, I agree with your analysis.

Who runs this utopia of “social democracy “?

What businesses are run by the State? Are all businesses run by the State? What will be the tax rate on folks who actually produce wealth in your utopia of “social democracy”? What would be my motivation to succeed in your world view? Free college, free healthcare, free housing, guaranteed salaries for all cost quite a bit of money who pays? Do we have an army to protect us (cost billions) in this utopia? Is it a volunteer army or are we compelled by the State to join? Do we have borders or is everyone invited from around the world to enjoy our “enlightened society?
I am not a fascist (does libertarian count in your welcoming social democracy) but actually thinking a State run country with “freebies” for all is utopia, makes no sense and Americans (yes, even us non enlightened ones) would never be so silly to think it could work.

Good news

I tend to agree with you and think the human race may need to start over. Will humankind be able to build on what its predecessors did? Will they be smarter, more informed, more willing to be open to new ideas and concepts, share more with not only their fellow humans but all things on earth--creatures, plants, water, air--so that everything can survive? Will they be more compassionate, and even willing to sacrifice for the common good? Many are, but some--and we see so much evidence of that, and at the highest levels--don't seem to have any concept of the common good. Hard to know if humanity, if it survives in any form, will have learned any lessons that may have survived whatever comes.
I almost daily, now, as I listen to or read the news (and I have to turn it all off now and then) feel grateful I'm as old as I am and do not have grandchildren. Things are going to get worse. MEANTIME, we all need to practice a little "Won't you be my neighbor?" attitudes.

I would like.....

to ask Mr. Sanders to cite an example of a peaceful socialist revolution from the last century.

Sander's is kind of busy...

If you ask me I can give you some examples of peaceful socialist revolutions. So peaceful in fact you don't even know they happened.

"He" took credit?

" ...and he took credit for a political revolution that changed how Americans think about economic issues..."

Really? Sanders's is usually a "we" kind of guy, not a "me" kind of guy- that's what the whole "brothers and sisters" thing is all about. Typically he takes great pains to point out that the "revolution" (which actually goes by the name: "Our Revolution" not "My Revolution") is a product of collective action, not HIS actions alone. If Sanders's personally took credit for the popularity of progressive issues, that would be a departure from his past rhetoric.