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Why President Obama and Tim Kaine "Feel the Bern"

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Reprinted from The Nation

The president and the vice-presidential nominee recognize that talking about Bernie Sanders is smart politics.

President Obama's speech to the DNC.
President Obama's speech to the DNC.
(Image by CBS News, Channel: CBS News)
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Philadelphia -- President Obama and Democratic vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine did something very smart Wednesday night. They talked about Bernie Sanders. Indeed, they talked up Bernie Sanders.

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The crowd at the Democratic National Convention, which has not always cheered in unison this week, cheered robustly when the president declared:

"Democracy works, but we gotta want it -- not just during an election year, but all the days in between.

"So if you agree that there's too much inequality in our economy, and too much money in our politics, we all need to be as vocal and as organized and as persistent as Bernie Sanders' supporters have been. We all need to get out and vote for Democrats up and down the ticket, and then hold them accountable until they get the job done."

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The references to Sanders came from a president and a Democratic nominee for vice president who devoted substantial portions of their speeches to hailing Hillary Clinton, the party's nominee for president. Obama and Kaine were not objecting to the fact that Clinton beat the senator from Vermont for the nomination, and that tomorrow night she will deliver her acceptance speech.

Rather, they were acknowledging that the passionately progressive campaign that Sanders ran this year secured more than 13 million votes, won 23 primary and caucus contests, and brought almost 1,900 delegates to the convention floor.

Obama and Kaine know that Sanders accomplished something this year. They are certainly aware that recognizing this accomplishment could help in the work of pulling together a party that is still struggling to achieve unity.

Kaine -- the centrist former governor and senator from Virginia who was certainly not the first choice of most Sanders backers for the vice-presidential nomination -- mentioned Sanders early in his speech. Noting that he serves on the Senate Budget Committee with Sanders, the Virginian described the Vermonter as an ally in the critical work of finding resources for education and health-care projects. When that line drew a loud cheer, Kaine ad-libbed a line that was not in his prepared text: "We all should feel the Bern and we all should not want to get burned by the other guy!"

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