Reprinted, with permission, from Reader Supported News
It was the 2nd day of a three-day trip to Iowa for Senator Bernie Sanders. A student at Drake University asked Bernie, during a Town Hall meeting, "Are you going to run for President?" Bernie started out with his usual response. "I love Iowa, but not enough to just visit and give a bunch of speeches in the middle of winter. I'm considering running for president ..." Then came one of those moments that might be the turning point in the senator's possible campaign.
"Let me throw that back to you, do you think there is the support in this country?" Person after person rose and said the support was there. Bernie said he needed an unprecedented grass-roots movement to do it right. Bernie continued to ask the crowd if the American people were ready to take on the billionaire class.
It was the theme of the three-day tour, and I am convinced that Bernie Sanders wants to run for president. He wants to take on the Koch brothers, wants to reverse the trend of wealth accumulating at the top. However, he knows he can't do it alone. He knows he needs millions of people to run with him.
Bernie Sanders on What It Will Take to Win:
Bernie has been fighting for decades. One thing is for sure, he is very persistent. There have been many campaigns where he got one or two percent of the vote before he started winning. In the fight before us, we need someone with the backbone to fight on, even through tough times. The Koch Brothers and their allies will stop at nothing to protect their investments. They are spending one hundred billion dollars to protect what they have and to keep the wealth concentrated at the top. It will take a fighter like Bernie Sanders to stand up to the billionaire class.
Bernie on Being Persistent:
One thing that frustrates Bernie is how many good people have given up on politics. We see it on these pages all the time. People who know what's wrong in our country but have lost faith in the political process. Too often we lump everyone together and judge them based on their affiliations. I am frustrated with Democrats as a whole, but there are good Democrats along with bad apples. Democrats like Barbara Lee and Elizabeth Warren need our support. Instead of giving up, we need to recommit ourselves and take back the Democratic Party. There is not a better vehicle that can be used to take our country back.
David Koch tried as a Libertarian and found that, even with billions of dollars, he couldn't succeed in a third party. So he bought the Republicans. We don't have billions of dollars, but we do have grass-roots strength if we stand and fight.
Bernie Sanders: "Don't Give Up on Politics":
Senator Sanders understands that the struggle won't end on election day. I agree with him on one of the biggest mistakes the president made in 2008: instead of putting a grass-roots organizer in charge of Obama for America, he turned the organization over to the DNC, and made it nothing more than a group that they could call on to phone-bank. In contrast, look at Democracy for America: it remained a grass-roots organization and recently voted to join with MoveOn to try to draft Elizabeth Warren. They voted to participate in "Run Warren Run" despite Howard Dean's support of Hillary Clinton.
I went to meetings for Obama's group in Miami in 2009. There was frustration that the agenda was being passed down from the DNC, and OFA couldn't use its grass-roots strength to keep the movement going. The DNC strangled OFA.
Bernie on Obama's 2008 Campaign:
At this point Senator Sanders has not decided if he will run as a Democrat or as an Independent. He sees the advantages to running as a Democrat, including ballot access and access to debates. Running as an Independent, while having its advantages, also creates many obstacles that will be hard to overcome. Ballot access laws are different in every state. Even with a political party behind him, Ralph Nader has never been able to get on the ballot in all 50 states. Nader always complained about the money and time that was wasted on ballot access that he could have spent campaigning. Instead of compiling signatures to get him on the ballot, his volunteers could have been making phone calls, organizing rallies, going door-to-door. I think Bernie understands this and wants to run as a Democrat.
The event in Ames with over 300 Democrats showed that there is support within the party for Bernie and his message. The party treasurer said it was the most money they had ever raised at an event. Obama's campaign showed that the country was ready for the kind of change that Bernie Sanders is proposing. The president didn't deliver, but that is not a reason to give up. We need to keep fighting until we win.
Bernie Sanders: Democrat or Independent?
Bernie also pointed out that we have been winning on issue after issue. We need to give ourselves more credit. We elected and re-elected a black man, and there are now more and more women in Congress. Conservative states are allowing gay marriage. It's on the economic front that we are losing. Bernie believes that if we can stand together, we can defeat the billionaire class. He acknowledges it won't be easy: change never is.