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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 3/30/18

We must rally the American people around an agenda that works for them, not the billionaire class

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The 2018 midterm elections will be a pivotal moment in American history. If we are successful we will be able to put an end to the disastrous Trump agenda, rebuild the declining middle class and create a Congress which stands for economic, political, racial and environmental justice.

In 2018 we have the potential to not only make great electoral gains at all levels of government, but to elect strong progressives who are prepared to take on the 1 percent and fight for an agenda that meets the needs of working families, and not just the Koch brothers and other wealthy campaign contributors.

But these victories are far from guaranteed. It is just not enough for the American people to have something to vote against, they must have something to vote for. Voters knew the myriad of problems with Donald Trump in 2016, and they still elected him. Today, despite all of his scandals and outrageous behavior, his approval ratings are close to the same levels as they were back then.

The truth is that, for a wide variety of reasons, millions of our fellow citizens have lost faith in government, hold political leaders in contempt and don't see any reason for voting. In the last midterm election, in 2014, the United States had the lowest voter turnout in 70 years -- just 37 percent.

Our job in 2018 is to change all of that. Yes, we must take on Trump's authoritarianism, xenophobia, racism, sexism, homophobia and religious bigotry -- but we must do more than that. We must rally the American people around an agenda that works for them, not the billionaire class. We must significantly increase voter turnout with strong, progressive candidates who are fighting for working families.

In my view, the 2018 elections present an historic opportunity to elect a new generation of candidates who will usher in an era of strong progressive change in this country. There are more candidates than ever before who support Medicare for all, free tuition at public colleges and universities, overturning Citizens United, a $15 minimum wage, common sense gun safety legislation, the transformation of our energy system away from fossil fuel and, in fact, our entire progressive agenda.

It's imperative that we support as many of these candidates as we possibly can. Because not only is that how we energize the working families of this country to come out and vote for Democrats, but it is how we can transform America.

You should know that I intend to be actively campaigning throughout this election season to energize the progressive community and support candidates who will stand by our agenda. And, by the way, that does not mean just "blue states." It means "red states" and "purple states" and states that Trump won by big margins. I look forward to seeing many of you at events from coast to coast. The bottom line is that the Democratic Party cannot continue to ignore half the states in the country. It must become a 50-state party.

But I cannot do it alone.

Please make a donation to support my work traveling the country and rallying people to support progressive causes and candidates who need our help. I would not ask if it were not so important. I cannot do it without your help.

As you well remember, it was not long ago that many of the ideas we've long talked about were considered "fringe" by many in the corporate media and in Congress. Well, that's changing.

Several years ago, I introduced legislation calling for a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system. It had no co-sponsors. Too radical. Now, with a majority of Americans supporting Medicare for all, we have 16 co-sponsors. A few years ago, the idea of a $15 an hour national minimum wage seemed unthinkable. Now, we have 30 co-sponsors on our legislation. We are also seeing good progress in making public colleges and universities tuition-free, lowering the outrageous level of student debt, making child care more affordable and decriminalizing the possession of marijuana.

We have come a very long way in a short amount of time, and all of those gains are a testament to people of all backgrounds and in all communities coming together and standing up to say ENOUGH is ENOUGH! We want a government that works for all of us, and not just a handful of billionaires.

That is the political revolution.

In 2018, we can advance our cause dramatically. But it will not be easy. The financial elite and those who profit mightily from the status quo will not go down without a fight. They have obscene amounts of wealth and have used that money to protect a dysfunctional system that allows them to make billions in profits while leaving far too many Americans behind.

But if we are willing to fight for it, the time is right for our movement to make dramatic gains this year. That is what I intend to do, but I cannot do it alone.

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Bernie Sanders is the independent U.S. Senator from Vermont. He is the longest serving independent member of Congress in American history. He is a member of the Senate's Budget, Veterans, Environment, Energy, and H.E.L.P. (Health, Education, (more...)

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