Bernie Sanders

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Bernie Sanders

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Bernie (Bernard) Sanders is an openly socialist Independent member of the United States Senate, representing Vermont. Sen. Sanders was born in 1941 in Brooklyn, New York. He is the son of Jewish Polish immigrants. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 after serving 16 years in the United States House of Representatives. He is married to Jane O'Meara Sanders.[1]

Sanders graduated from the University of Chicago with a B.A. in political science in 1964. Then he moved to Vermont, where he worked as a carpenter, filmmaker, writer and researcher, among other jobs, before starting his political career.

Presidential campaign

For more information to Bernie Sanders Presidential Campaign 2016 and People for Bernie, Women for Bernie and Labor for Bernie.

Early life

Born in Brooklyn, Bernie Sanders was the younger of two sons in a modest-income family. After graduation from the University of Chicago[2]in 1964, he moved to Vermont, where he worked as a carpenter, filmmaker, writer and researcher, among other jobs, before starting his political career. Early in his career, Sanders was director of the American People’s Historical Society. Elected Mayor of Burlington by 10 votes in 1981, he served four terms. Before his 1990 election as Vermont’s at-large member in Congress, Sanders lectured at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and at Hamilton College in upstate New York.

Student activism

After one year at Brooklyn College, Sanders spent four years at the University of Chicago, where he joined the Young Peoples Socialist League, youth wing of the Socialist Party USA, the Congress of Racial Equality and the Student Peace Union. He also worked briefly for the communist led United Packinghouse Workers Union. At the end of his junior year Sanders worked in a mental hospital in California as part of a project for the American Friends Service Committee.[3]

Pro-Soviet kibbutz

Yossi Melman, a longtime Haaretz writer, remembers an interview he did with Bernie Sanders in 1990, the year he was elected to represent Vermont in the House. Sanders said he had spent several months in 1963 working on Kibbutz Sha’ar Ha’amakim, near Haifa in northern Israel, as a guest of the Hashomer Hatzair youth movement.

The movement, whose Hebrew name translates to “The Young Guard,” was a socialist, Zionist secular Jewish youth group founded in 1913 in Galicia, Austria-Hungary, and shared the name of a workers’ party in pre-1948 Palestine. The original 1990 article was titled “The First Socialist” and said that after spending time on the kibbutz with his wife at that time, Mr. Sanders seems to have lost his connection “to Israel, Zionism and Judaism,”

Mr. Sanders’ brother, Larry Sanders, who recently failed in his bid for the British Parliament (standing for the Green Party), also spent time on two communal farms, in Kibbutz Matzuva (in western Galilee) and Kibbutz Yotvata (in the southern Negev), Haaretz reported.

According to New Yorker Albert Ely, who is 79 and once managed the orchard, on Sha’ar Ha’amakim, “you care about your brother or your neighbor or whoever it is.” The kibbutz was founded in Romania in 1929 and established in pre-state Israel in 1935. It saw the Soviet Union as a model, and often flew the red flag at outdoor events.

“I know that we left an imprint on those people,” Mr. Ely said. “The imprint was believe in people, and be responsible for them. Not only for yourself.”

Volunteers would work for six hours in the morning, usually in agriculture, and then partake in cultural events in the afternoon.[4]

Kibbutz Sha'ar Ha'amakim had been co-founded by Aharon Cohen, the Arabist, who was a regular critic of Israel and opponent of its policy. He was arrested for spying for the USSR in the 50s.

Hashomer Hatzair was a Marxist organization. While the USSR purged most Zionist and Jewish groups, they waited until 1927 to ban Hashomer Hatzair making them the last group to be outlawed. Other left-wing groups described them as Leninist and even Stalinist.

Stalinist

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the commune's founder, Ya'akov Hazan, described the Soviet Union as a second homeland and eulogized Stalin, writing how shocked he and his comrades were, "to hear of the terrible tragedy that has befallen the nations of the Soviet Union, the world proletariat and all of progressive mankind, upon the death of the great leader and extolled commander, Josef Vissarionovich Stalin. We lower our flag in grief in memory of the great revolutionary fighter, architect of socialist construction, and leader of the world's peace movement. His huge historical achievements will guide generations in their march towards the reign of socialism and communism the world over."

Al Hamishmar, the movement's paper, had a headline which read, "The Progressive World Mourns the Death of J.V. Stalin"

While Hashomer Hatzair is described as Marxist-Zionist, its own position was Marxist, not Zionist. Like American Communists, it was the Communist part that mattered. Not the American part. Hashomer Hatzair contended that its cooperation with Zionists was a temporary expedient that would pave the way for a revolution.

It viewed Israel's independence as a transitional phase that would end up with a bi-national Socialist state that would destroy Israel.

Eliezer Hacohen, one of Hashomer Hatzair's ideological leaders, said, "Marxism was the key to renewing our spiritual creativity." Hashomer Hatzair pledged its allegiance to the Soviet Union.

As late as 1969, well after Bernie's 1963 visit, Dissent was describing Hashomer Hatzair kibbutzim as "Stalinist".

Western lefties with a Hashomer Hatzair background include Noam Chomsky. Chomsky wrote that he was fairly close to "Hashomer Hatzair, but couldn't join because it was split between Stalinists and Trotskyites."

Bernie Sanders wasn't there because he liked Israel. Hashomer Hatzair did not like Israel. It ultimately wanted to destroy it. He was there because he was far left. Perhaps even further left than he has admitted.[5]

Civil rights activism

Sanders volunteered with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) as a student at the University of Chicago. He participated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. He endorsed Jesse Jackson during his 1988 bid for the presidency.[6]

Vermont activism

Sanders moved to Vermont in the mass migration of hippies and anti-Vietnam War activists in the mid-1960s. He worked as a carpenter and journalist, was married and fathered a son, Levi Sanders . In 1971, he became a candidate for the U.S. Senate for the far-left Liberty Union Party -- an alternative to the Democratic and Republican parties. Sanders picked up 2 percent of the vote.

Sanders ran as candidate for Liberty Union three more times, achieving 6 percent of the vote before finally quitting. Sanders promoting programs that included nationalizing all U.S. banks, public ownership of all utiliies, ending of compulsory education and establishing a worker-controlled government.[7]

Peter Diamondstone, socialist co-founder of the Vermont-based Liberty Union Party that gave Bernie Sanders his first exposure to politics in the 1970s

claims that “In 1980 Sanders wanted to be connected to a socialist name. He asked me to talk to the Socialist Party about getting him the vice presidential nomination and I did but it was too late, they already nominated” someone else.

In 1977 Sanders quit the Liberty Unity Party.[8]

FBI interest

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The FBI took an interest in Bernie Sanders' socialist views in 1981.

Socialist Party endorsement

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The national Socialist Party USA endorsed Sanders in his 1996 bid for Congress, but when the Socialist presidential ticket of Mary Cal Hollis and Eric Chester went to Vermont to campaign, they denounced Sanders and turned their backs on their own party’s endorsement of him.

“That was a big break in the Socialist Party,” Peter Diamondstone remembered. “A big rift.”[9]

Becoming a Democrat

According to Peter Diamondstone;

“In ’84 he became a full-time Democrat. People say he was an independent. That’s probably how he got into the Democratic caucus in Congress. When he first applied, the caucus said it’s up to your state committee and the state committee of the Democratic Party said NO. So he went to Leahy and Dean. They had a backroom deal. Nobody knows what the deal was. We hear rumors about it,” said Diamondstone. “When he campaigned for Mondale I followed him around and opposed him. My leaflet referred to him as a quisling. At that point it was no longer a friendly rivalry. It was a rift that divided us never to be healed to this day.”[10]

All in the family

Bernie Sanders used campaign donations to pay his wife and stepdaughter more than $150,000 for campaign-related work since 2000, according to records filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Jane O'Meara Sanders, his second wife for the past 20 years, is president of Burlington College. They have four adult children. Jane Sanders received $91,020 between 2002 and 2004 for "consultation" and to negotiate the purchase of television ând radio time-slots for Sanders' advertisements, according to records and interviews.

Approximately $61,000 of that was "pass-through" money that was used to pay media outlets for advertising time, Jane O'Meara Sanders said in an interview.

The rest, about $30,000, she kept as payment for her services, she said. Carina Driscoll, daughter to Jane O'Meara Sanders and Bernie's stepdaughter, who had been a member of Burlington City Council, picked up $65,002 in "wages" between 2000 and 2004, campaign records show. She had been her stepfather's campaign manager in 2000, his fundraiser and office manager in 2003; she was his database manager in 2004.[11]

Backing Andrew Pulley

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According to Greg Guma, “I think I’d make a good candidate,” said Bernie Sanders. We were sitting across a small table in the Fresh Ground Coffee House, the same place the FBI had labeled a “known contact point” for extremists a few years earlier. As far as I knew no spooks were listening.

In October 1980, most people were focused on the presidential race between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. But a few of us were looking beyond the two-party system. Sanders supported Socialist Workers Party candidate Andrew Pulley, on the Vermont ballot that year along with four other “minor” party hopefuls. Greg Guma backed Barry Commoner, who had formed the Citizens Party a year earlier. [12]

Foreign policy

In his 1997 memoir, Outsider in the House, Sanders asked, “how many cities of 40,000 [like Burlington] have a foreign policy? Well, we did.”

Soviet flag

Sanders hung the Soviet flag in the mayoral office in Burlington, in honor the city's Soviet sister city Yaroslav.[13]

1983 war against Nicaragua was illegal and immoral

Bernie Sanders supported the Nicaraguan Sandinistas;

Many Burlingtonians, including myself, supported the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. President Reagan did not. We disagreed with him. We expressed our displeasure.
Somewhere in the Reagan archives, or wherever these things are kept, is a letter from the mayor of Burlington on this subject. There are also official proclamations from the Burlington Board of Alderman, made after long and emotional public hearings. "Stop the war against the people of Nicaragua! Use our tax dollars to feed the hungry and house the homeless. Stop killing the innocent people of Nicaragua."
This was an issue that many of us in the progressive movement felt very strongly about. Not only was the war against Nicaragua illegal and immoral, it was an outrageous waste of taxpayer money. As a mayor, I wanted more federal funds for affordable housing and economic development. I did not want to see taxpayer dollars going to the CIA for an appalling war. [14]

Nicaragua visit

In 1985, while mayor of Burlington, Sanders celebrated the sixth anniversary of the Sandinista victory in Managua, with Daniel Ortega.[15]

Sanders was the highest-ranking American official to visit Nicaragua at the time, and met with President Daniel Ortega. In his book, he called the trip “profoundly emotional” and praised Ortega. Burlington and Managua, Nicaragua’s capital, became sister cities.[16]

Reflecting on the tour of revolutionary Nicaragua, Sanders marveled that he was, “believe it or not, the highest ranking American official” to attend a parade celebrating the Sandinista seizure of power.[17]

Anti-American rally

In July 1985, Bernie Sanders traveled to Nicaragua, where he attended an event that one wire report dubbed an “anti-U.S. rally.”

The leftist Sandinista government was celebrating the sixth anniversary of the revolution that saw it take power from an American-backed dictator, Anastasio Somoza. Sanders was in a crowd estimated at a half million people, many of whom were clad in the Sandinistas’ trademark red-and-black colors and chanting “Here, there, everywhere/the Yankee will die.”

Onstage, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega accused the U.S. government of “state terrorism” for supporting the rebels who were seeking to overthrow him. The Sandinistas and the CIA-backed Contras would fight into the next decade, with allegations of human rights abuses on both sides. At the 1985 rally Sanders attended, Ortega vowed the Sandinistas would “defend the revolution with guns in hand.”

Sanders was being hosted by the Sandinistas as part of a delegation of American “solidarity groups.” He told reporters their decision to show “support” for the Nicaraguan government was “patriotic.”

“We want to show support for a small country trying to be independent, and we want to tell the truth to the American people when we return,” Sanders said.[18]

A "lesson"

Sanders thought Managua’s Marxist-Leninist clique had much to teach Burlington: “Vermont could set an example to the rest of the nation similar to the type of example Nicaragua is setting for the rest of Latin America.”[19]

Nora Astorga

In 1987 Sanders hosted Sandinista politician Nora Astorga in Burlington, a woman notorious for a Mata Hari-like guerilla operation that successfully lured Gen. Reynaldo Perez-Vega, a high-ranking figure in the Somoza dictatorship, to her apartment with promises of sex. Perez-Vega’s body was later recovered wrapped in a Sandinista flag, his throat slit by his kidnappers. When Astorga died in 1988 from cervical cancer, Sanders took the occasion to publicly praise Astorga as “a very, very beautiful woman” and a “very vital and beautiful woman...”[20]

Honeymoon in the Soviet Union

Sanders honeymooned in the Soviet Union. Sanders married his current wife, Jane, in May of 1988 and the next day left for their “romantic honeymoon” to Yaroslavl, in the then-Soviet Union. The trip was an official delegation from Burlington to cement the two cities’ sister-city relationship. “Trust me. It was a very strange honeymoon,” Sanders writes.[21]

Meeting Ortega

In 1985 Sanders travelled to New York City to meet with Daniel Ortega just weeks after Nicaragua imposed a “state of emergency” that resulted in mass arrests of regime critics and the shuttering of opposition newspapers and magazines. While liberal critics of Reagan’s Nicaraguan policy rounded on the Sandinistas (talk-show host Phil Donahue told Ortega that his actions looked “fascist”), Sanders refused to condemn the decision. He was “not an expert in Nicaragua” and “not a Nicaraguan,” he said during a press conference. “Am I aware enough of all the details of what is going on in Nicaragua to say ‘you have reacted too strongly?’ I don’t know…” But of course he did know, later saying that the Sandinistas’ brutal crackdown “makes sense to me.” [22]

Cuba

He also visited Cuba with Jane in 1989 and tried to meet with Fidel Castro, but it didn’t work out and he met with the mayor of Havana and other officials instead.

The trip was organized by the Center for Cuban Studies, a pro-Castro group based in New York, hoping to come away with a “balanced” picture of the communist dictatorship. The late, legendary Vermont journalist Peter Freyne sighed that Sanders “came back singing the praises of Fidel Castro.”

“I think there is tremendous ignorance in this country as to what is going on in Cuba,” Sanders told The Burlington Free Press before he left. It’s a country with “deficiencies,” he acknowledged, but one that has made “enormous progress” in “improving the lives of poor people and working people.” When he returned to Burlington, Sanders excitedly reported that Cuba had “solved some very important problems” like hunger and homelessness. “I did not see a hungry child. I did not see any homeless people,” he told the Free Press. “Cuba today not only has free healthcare but very high quality healthcare.”

Sanders had a hunch that Cubans actually appreciated living in a one-party state. “The people we met had an almost religious affection for [Fidel Castro]. The revolution there is far deep and more profound than I understood it to be. It really is a revolution in terms of values.” It was a conclusion he had come to long before visiting the country. Years earlier Sanders said something similar during a press conference: “You know, not to say Fidel Castro and Cuba are perfect—they are certainly not—but just because Ronald Reagan dislikes these people does not mean to say the people in these nations feel the same.”

Sanders recalled “being very excited when Fidel Castro made a revolution in Cuba” in 1959. “It just seemed right and appropriate that poor people were rising up against a lot of ugly rich people.” In an interview with The Progressive, almost 30 years later, Sanders was still expressing admiration for the Cuban dictatorship: “And what about Cuba? It’s not a perfect society, I grant, but there aren’t children there going hungry. It’s been more successful than almost any other developing country in providing health care for its people. And the Cuban revolution is only 30 years old. It may get even better.” [23]

Sanders is proud of Burlington’s international diplomacy efforts. “Burlington had a foreign policy because, as progressives, we understood that we all live in one world,” he writes.[24]

Revolutionary arts

Through the Mayor’s Council on the Arts, Sanders tried to bring some revolutionary third-worldism to Vermont when he funded cable-access television that showed “films from Cuba [and] daily television fare from Nicaragua.” At a press conference, Sanders highlighted the grants that allowed the importation of “films produced in Nicaragua, that appear on Nicaraguan [state] television, on Channel 15. We have films from Cuba on Channel 15.”[25]

Radical connections

As a mayor, Sanders made forays into foreign policy that included meetings with representatives of hostile nations, rebel groups and Canadian separatists. [26]

I.F.Stone's endorsement letter

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In October 1988, journalist I. F. Stone, a former secret Communist Party USA member and Soviet agent, wrote a letter endorsing Burlington mayor Bernie Sanders' congressional run.

Dear Friend,
I've been politically active all my life. I was a member of the Executive Committee of the Socialist Party in New Jersey, before I was old enough to vote.

Now I'd like to ask you to join me in a historic step forward in American politics. My favorite Mayor -- Bernie Sanders of Burlington, Vermont -- is running for Congress, and with our help he can win an unprecedented victory for us all.
Bernie is a unique figure in our political system. He's an unapologetic socialist who has been elected Mayor of Vermont's largest city four times. He has proved that a socialist, running as an Independent against the combined opposition of Republicans and Democrats, can be successful by speaking out for working people, the elderly and the poor.

Under Bernie's leadership, Burlington has become a vibrant, innovative city, nationally recognized for its accomplishments. The U. S. Conference of Mayors recently gave it the "Most Liveable City" award, and even the conservative U.S. News and World Report has spotlighted Bernie as one of the country's Top Twenty Mayors (December 21, 1987).

Bernie has been a leader in the struggle for peace and justice . His activism was instrumental in Vermont's strong support of the Nuclear Freeze in its town meetings in 1982. He has traveled to Nicaragua to speak out against the Reagan Administration's war, and to establish a Sister City relation between Burlington and Puerto Cabezas. More recently, he went to the Soviet Union to set up a Sister City program with Yaroslavl.
While socialism has a long and proud history in America, extending back to the utopian experiments of the early 1800s, it's been a long time since we've had a socialist voice in Congress. Not since Victor Berger of Milwaukee in the twenties , has the debate gone beyond the limits set by the conventional two-party system.
Having Bernie in Washington will widen out the limits of political discussion. He'll speak up loudly, as he has in Vermont, for real alternatives. He'll show that we need a pragmatic socialism to deal with the grave problems of our economic system.
I.F. STONE

Addressed Communist Party USA, front meeting

An ad/notice was placed in the Guardian, November 8, 1989, concerning an upcoming U.S. Peace Council national conference. The text of the notice was:

"End The Cold War Fund Human Needs" U.S. Peace Council's Tenth Anniversary National Conference - Boston, Mass., Nov. 10-12, 1989

Speakers Included:[27]

Election to Congress

In 1990 Sanders was elected to Congress from Vermont, as a socialist, on a third party ticket. At the time Sanders was a leading member of the National Rainbow Coalition. He was supported by the AFL-CIO, environmentalists, anti-Apartheid activists and Democratic Party leaders.[29]

CPC founders

The Congressional Progressive Caucus was founded in 1991 by freshman Congressman Bernie Sanders. Sanders' CPC co-founders included House members Ron Dellums, Lane Evans, Tom Andrews, Peter DeFazio, and Maxine Waters.

1993 NCIPA National Steering Committee

As of Spring 1993, the National Committee for Independent Political Action Steering Committee included Bernie Sanders.

Socialist Scholars Conference 1990

The Socialist Scholars Conference 1990, held September 6-8, at the Hotel Commodore, New York, included panels such as:[30]

The Democratic Party and Electoral Strategy for the Left

Socialist Scholars Conference 1992

Speakers at the Opening Plenary at the Tenth Annual Socialist Scholars Conference, Whose New World Order? included Bernie Sanders, Member of Congress, Vermont, Joseph S. Murphy, Political Science, CUNY Graduate Center, Dennis Rivera, President, SEIU Local 1199 Health & Hospital Workers Union and Ellen Willis, author, Beginning to See the Light. The conference was held April 24-26, 1992 at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, New York City[31]

Socialist Scholars 1997

In March 28-30 1997 Democratic Socialists of America convened their annual Socialist Scholars Conference at Borough of Manhattan Community College, New York.

The conference was themed "Radical alternatives on the eve of the millenium".

Invitees were asked to join Doug Henwood, Robert Heilbroner, Paul Sweezy, Harry Magdoff, Bill Tabb, Frances Fox Piven, Robert Fitch, Jane Slaughter and Ellen Meiksins Wood "as they debate changes in the labor movement, Marxist theory, the state of the economy, market socialism, and other areas where theory and practice meet".

Or "listen to the United States' only independent and socialist congressman", Rep. Bernie Sanders, "dialogue with" Joel Rogers of the New Party and In These Times' ....Salim Muwakkil on independent politics..[32].

Anti NAFTA Bill

In 1995 Marcy Kaptur, Peter DeFazio, Nydia Velasquez, Gene Taylor and Bernie Sanders co-sponsored a Bill, to force the US to withdraw from NAFTA within 90 days. The bill was unsuccessful. [33]

"The Progressive Challenge: Capitol Hill Forum"

On January 9, 1997, over 600 people attended "The Progressive Challenge: Capitol Hill Forum" sponsored by the House Progressive Caucus, Democratic Socialists of America, and a host of other progressive organizations.

The primary goal of this day-long "kick-off" forum was to "identify the unifying values shared by progressives at this point in US history, to help define core elements of a forward-looking progressive agenda, and to pinpoint ways to connect that agenda with the concerns of millions of disillusioned people who lack voices in present politics and policy-making."

After a welcome by Representative Bernie Sanders, an impressive array of legislators, activists, and thinkers offered their insights. Senator Paul Wellstone, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Patricia Ireland of NOW, Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO, Noam Chomsky, William Greider of Rolling Stone, and DSA Honorary Chair Barbara Ehrenreich were among the many who spoke.

Some emphasized the importance of the conventional, if difficult, process of progressive candidates building grassroots campaigns that treat voters with intelligence and challenge prevailing wisdom regarding what values and issues motivate ordinary Americans struggling to make ends meet-as opposed to using polls and focus groups to concoct "designer" campaigns to appeal to upscale "soccer moms." Other speakers reminded those present that great changes are made by people acting outside of the corridors of power to define justice and "political reality," and the electoral and legislative processes are not the only arenas worthy of activists' attention.[34]

Progressive State of the Union Address, 1999

January 19, 1999, members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and Institute for Policy Studies, talked about issues that they are planning to address in the upcoming year, at the Progressive State of the Union Address. Some of the issues they intend to address are poverty in the United States, national defense, the global economy, Medicare, and education. Rep. Conyers stated that the House disregarded the views the majority of the American people when the House impeached the president.

Speakers were Tammy Baldwin [D] Wisconsin, John Cavanagh Co-Director Institute for Policy Studies, John Conyers, [D] Michigan, Peter DeFazio [D] Oregon, Karen Dolan, Coordinator Institute for Policy Studies, Earl Hilliard, [D] Alabama, Maurice Hinchey, [D] New York, Stephanie Tubbs Jones, [D] Ohio, Barbara Lee, [D] California, Jerrold Nadler, [D] New York, Grace Napolitano, [D] California, Major Owens, [D] New York, Bernie Sanders, [I] Vermont, Jan Schakowsky, [D] Illinois.[35]

Progressive Caucus SOTU Address

On Thursday, January 27 2000, from 3:30pm to 5:00pm in 2253 of RHOB, the Congressional Progressive Caucus held its 3rd Annual Congressional Progressive Caucus' State of the Union Address. This event was also sponsored by the Institute for Policy Studies' Progressive Challenge coalition whose Fairness Agenda for America is endorsed by 200 public interest groups nationally.

Caucus Chair Rep. Peter DeFazio(D-OR) stated "The Progressive Caucus Alternative State of the Union will provide a much needed reality check to politicians who would rather ignore the priorities of Americans left out of the economic boom -- priorities like access to quality health care and education, repairing crumbling schools, addressing the growing gap between the rich and poor, and creating a sustainable global economy that works for everyone, not just the corporate architects."

Anticipated speakers included: Peter DeFazio (D-OR), House Minority Whip David Bonior (D-MI), Earl Hilliard (D-AL);Dennis Kucinich (D-OH); Cynthia McKinney (D-GA);. Major Owens (D-NY)Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Tammy Baldwin (D-WI);. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY);Barbara Lee (D-CA); Jerrold Nadler (D-NY); and Lynn Woolsey(D-CA). John Cavanagh, director of the Institute for Policy Studies also made some remarks regarding public interest groups support of a progressive agenda.[36]

The Congressional Progressive Caucus, Chaired by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), consists of over a quarter of the House Democrats, one Independent and Senator Paul Wellstone. The Caucus will be releasing position papers on Health Care and Income Inequality, with reports on the Alternative Federal Budget, Social Security, Minimum Wage, Education and the Global Economy.

Back to Basics conference

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A Back to Basics conference on the future of the American Left, was held in Chicago October 9-11, 1998. Speakers included: Sen. Paul Wellstone, Rep. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Cynthia McKinney, Barbara Dudley, Quentin Young and Jim Hightower. The conference was sponsored by Sponsored by In These Times[37].

"Michael Harrington and Today's Other America"

In 1998, a new film based on late Democratic Socialists of America leader Michael Harrington was released. "Michael Harrington and Today's Other America-Corporate Power and Inequality" featured interviews with Bogdan Denitch, Congressman Bernie Sanders, Frances Fox Piven, John Kenneth Galbraith, Rush Limbaugh, Senate Ted Kennedy, Jim Chapin, Robert Kuttner, Charles Murray, Robert L. Hellbroner, Joanne Barkan, Joseph Murphy and Bob Herbert. [38]

"Jobs and Investment Bill"

On October 7, 1994, Congressional Progressive Caucus members Bernie Sanders, Maurice Hinchey, Nydia Velasquez and Major Owens, introduced the "Jobs and Investment Bill" into Congress, which would appropriate $42 billion over several years for "make work" construction and infrastructure projects.[39]

"Living Wage, Jobs for all Act"

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In 1995, Nancy Pelosi, Bernie Sanders, David Bonior, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Cynthia McKinney, Maurice Hinchey, Major Owens, Nydia Velasquez, John Conyers, Bob Filner, Alcee Hastings, Lane Evans, Edolphus Towns, Jim McDermott, supported Democratic Socialists of America member rep. Ron Dellums' "Living Wage, Jobs for all Act"

H.R. 950, the Job Creation and Infrastructure Restoration Act of 1997 was introduced in the 105th Congress on March 5, 1997 by Congressman Matthew Martinez of California. It had 33 original co-sponsors, including Bernie Sanders. The primary purpose of this emergency federal jobs legislation was to provide much needed jobs at union wages to crisis ridden cities by putting the unemployed to work rebuilding our nation's infrastructure (schools, housing, hospitals, libraries, public transportation, highways, parks, environmental improvements, etc. $250 billion is authorized for emergency public works jobs over a five year period.

Congressman Martinez had previously introduced this bill in the last Congress (as HR 1591) at the the request of over 50 prominent Labor leaders who formed the Los Angeles Labor Coalition for Public Works Jobs, which is why it is often referred to as the "Martinez Public Works Jobs Bill."[40]

This is the most significant jobs legislation introduced in Congress since Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal established the Works Progress Administration (WPA). This bill is the WPA-type program for today. It has strong provisions which will put hundreds of thousands of unemployed building trades workers to work as well as provide jobs for victims of plant closures, welfare recipients who are parents, youth, and the long term unemployed. The public works projects which will be established under this bill will be built in communities with the highest levels of unemployment and with the greatest needs.
The goal of the New York Coalition for Public Works Jobs is to build the movement to pass the Martinez Jobs bill as part of the National Labor Coalition for Public Works Jobs. You can help by asking your union, community organization, or local government body to to join those who have already passed resolutions to endorse the bill. Such a resolution has been introduced in the New York City Council. Calling on additional Congressional Representatives to co-sponsor the bill is very important. We will be organizing petition campaigns, visits to elected officials, and demonstrations and other actions for a public works jobs program.

The leaders of the Los Angeles Labor Coalition for Public Works Jobs and its only affiliate New York Coalition for Public Works Jobs, were all known supporters or members of the Communist Party USA.

Los Angeles , National Labor Coalition For Public Works Jobs

A New York affiliate, New York Coalition for Public Works Jobs, c/o Utility Workers Union of America Local 1-2.

Staffer's 2000 trip to Cuba

In February 2000, Sandra Caron from the office of Congressman Bernie Sanders spent six days in Havana, Cuba, for the purpose of "fact-finding, study effects of U.S. embargo". The trip cost $1,778.47 and was paid for by the Christopher Reynolds Foundation.[41]

Clinton/Chile letter

February 24, 2000, 31 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have sent a letter to President Clinton requesting full U.S. cooperation with the Spanish case against former Chilean General Augusto Pinochet, a thorough investigation into the car-bomb assassination of Orlando Letelier and American citizen Ronni Moffitt, and the release of all U.S. documents pertaining to human rights abuses in Chile.

Dear President Clinton,
We would like to take this opportunity to commend your Administration's recent activity concerning the ongoing investigation into former Chilean General Augusto Pinochet's role in the 1976 car bombing of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt in Washington D.C. We also appreciate your efforts to release documents pertaining to human rights abuses in Chile.

Signatories were George Miller (D-CA), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sam Gejdenson (D-CT), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), Jim McGovern (D-MA), John Conyers (D-MI), Barney Frank (D-MA), Pete Stark (D-CA), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Lane Evans (D-IL), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Tim Roemer (D- IN), Howard Berman (D-CA), John Olver (D-MA), Mel Watt (D- NC), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Patsy Mink (D-HI), Marcy Kaptur (D- OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), John Tierney (D-MA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Martin Sabo (D-MN), and Bob Filner (D-CA).[42]

Ties to Democratic Socialists of America

Sanders has long standing ties to Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). Sanders is a regular speaker at DSA conferences and the organization is a major fund-raiser for his campaigns.

Talk on Nicaragua

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Bernie Sanders addressed a Democratic Socialists of America sponsored event in Los Angeles in July 1986.

"Revolution can be done through the government"

Reading Times, 1/3/88

Bernie Sanders, Mayor of Burlington Vermont received the third annual Maurer-Stump Award from the Reading-Berks Democratic Socialists, an affiliate of Democratic Socialists of America, at a meeting at the Crystal Springs restaurant, January 1988. About 50 people attended. Michael Harrington, leader of Democratic Socialists of America, who shared the award with Sanders was unable to attend. The award was given by Robert J. Millar, chair of Reading-Berks Democratic Socialists.

Sanders told Deidre Riley of the Reading Times "Revolution can be done through the government, if you raise the right issues." [43]

1990 conference

In 1990 the Democratic Socialists of America Political Action Committee endorsed two Congressional candidates, "DSAer Democrat" Neil Abercrombie seeking to regain the House seat representing Honolulu and Vermont independent candidate Bernie Sanders.[44]

1991 conference

Democratic Left, Nov./Dec. 1991

In November 1991, Sanders spoke at the Democratic Socialists of America national convention at Mundelin College, Chicago.[45]

1995 town meeting

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In 1995, DC/MD/Northern VA. Democratic Socialists of America co-sponsored the first of DSA's national series of town meetings on economic security. This hearing was held in a church on September 27 and was scheduled to feature three members of Congress: Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Maxine Waters (D-CA). [46]

Socialist biographer

In 1995 Stephen Soifer, author of , "The Socialist Mayor. Bernard Sanders in Burlington, Vermont", (Bergin and Garvey), was a member of Democratic Socialists of America .[47]

1996 endorsement

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In July 1996, the Democratic Socialists of America Political Action Committee endorsed Bernard Sanders, Vermont At Large, in that year's Congressional elections.[48]

1999 keynoter

In November 1999 Bernie Sanders was keynote speaker at D.S.As national convention in San Diego. hH was introduced by local congressman Bob Filner.

DSA Banquet honor

From a Spring 2000 Democratic Left editorial;[49]

Electoral tactics are only a means for DSA; the building of a powerful anti-corporate and ultimately socialist movement is the end. Where third party or non-partisan candidates represent significant social movements DSA locals have and will continue to build such organizations and support such candidates. DSA honored independent socialist Congressperson Bernie Sanders of Vermont at our last convention banquet, and we have always raised significant funds nationally for his electoral campaigns. .

Take Back America Conferences

Bernie Sanders was on the list of 129 speakers at the 2005 Take Back America conference, which was organized by the Institute for Policy Studies, and Democratic Socialists of America dominated Campaign for America's Future.[50]

He was back in 2006, 2007.

Take Back the American Dream Conference 2011

Bernie Sanders was one of the 158 speakers who addressed the Take Back the American Dream Conference 2011 . The Conference was hosted by the Institute for Policy Studies, and Democratic Socialists of America dominated Campaign for America's Future, [51]

Democratic Socialists of America Atlanta conference

In November 2007, Rep. John Lewis was a special guest at the national Conference of Democratic Socialists of America held at the IBEW union hall in Atlanta, Georgia.[52]

Congressman Lewis Introduced Bernie Sanders to the conference.

The program of the first Atlanta Douglass-Debs Dinner, held at the Democratic Socialists of America conference on Friday November 9 was;[53]

Senator Bernie Sanders addressed the Convention and guests at the Atlanta local’s First Annual Douglass-Debs Dinner on November 9, 2007. From his speech to the conference;[54]

I want to thank the DSA for the support that they gave me in the last campaign. And I want to thank DSA, not only for what they are doing today, but also for keeping alive what in my view is the most important vision that we as human beings can hold. It’s a vision that has been passed on from generation to generation, literally for thousands of years: the vision of peace, the vision of brotherhood. Nothing new; it’s in the Bible. But to remember the work, the sacrifices of people like Eugene V. Debs, Frederick Douglass, to remember Norman Thomas, Michael Harrington, and to remember a man who is buried in this city itself, one of the great Americans certainly of the 20th century, Martin Luther King Jr. And what was that vision? That radical but simple vision is solidarity. It means that all of us are in this thing called life together, that if we work together, if we share together, all of us can prosper and do well. And that when we reach out to other people, rather than to say “me, me, me,” we grow as human beings. And the vision tells us that peace is better than war, that greed should not be the dominant factor in our society today, and that people can come together beyond race and creed and country of origin to create a very different world than the world in which we are living today.

Detroit conference

Bernie Sanders, and Detroit DSA leader David Green, June 25th, 2006

Sanders addressed the Greater Detroit Democratic Socialists of America conference, June 2006.

DSA support in Senate campaign

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DSA's 2005 National Conference in Los Angeles committed the organization to supporting Sanders' 2006 U.S. Senate race-and using it to recruit some new members along the way;[55]

From now through November 2006, the Sanders for Senate campaign in Vermont will focus national media attention on the most serious socialist electoral effort in the United States since the Debsian period. Bernie Sanders has been an articulate voice for democratic socialist politics among the 435 members of the House of Representatives and has spoken at DSA events on many occasions.
Sanders would become a much more visible national spokesperson for socialist politics if and when he serves as one of 100 members of the more powerful United States Senate.
His election is by no means assured and he will need the financial and organizational help of the broad democratic left around the country. In addition, Sanders support work provides a natural vehicle in any locality for DSA to reach out to—and potentially recruit—unaffiliated socialists and independent radicals.
Thus, this convention commits itself to:
a. The national staff and NPC developing feasible, legal, ways that DSA locals, networks, individuals, and campus groups can aid the Sanders for Senate campaign.
b. The national leadership providing guidance as to how local groups engaged in aiding the Sanders campaign can utilize such efforts to recruit for and build DSA.

In 2006 Bernie Sanders received $15,387 from the Democratic Socialists of America Political Action Committee for his campaign as Independent candidate for the Vermont seat in the U.S. Senate primary and general elections.[56]

Boston Democratic Socialists of America leader David Knuttunen and DSA National Political Committee wrote in The Yankee Radical August 2006;[57]

So it is no surprise that DSA’s National Convention, in November 2005, voted to make support for Bernie Sanders a priority for the organization.

DSA’s staff and leadership responded to the Convention vote by forming a Political Action Committee (the Democratic Socialists of America, Inc. PAC), which then launched a project to hold house parties across the country to raise money for the Sanders Campaign. The events are organized by DSA activist volunteers, who pay the associated costs out of their own pockets —all proceeds go directly to the Sanders Campaign. The list of house party locales reminds one of the words of “Joe Hill”: “from San Diego on up to Maine...” To date, the DSA PAC campaign has resulted in events in Boston, Atlanta, Detroit, Central Ohio, Portland ME and Boulder CO. Events are being planned for San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Central Indiana, Washington DC, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York City, and Springfield MA, with a few more under discussion. Over $28,000 has been raised for the Sanders Campaign so far. DSA PAC expects that the campaign will eventually generate well over $50,000 – not bad for a tiny little organization, and a campaign run almost entirely with volunteer effort.
Even more important than the fundraising, though, in the eyes of many DSAers, is the opportunity for political education. The house parties give DSA volunteers the opportunity to expose people to DSA and political ideas that Bernie Sanders and DSA both hold.

The Democratic Socialists of America PAC raised over $50,000 nationally to support Sanders' campaign.[58]

The Institute for Food and Development Policy/Food First

Bernie Sanders is on the list of Congressional Representatives who have participated in hearings/briefings since 1998, with the very radical Institute for Food and Development Policy/Food First, founded by Frances Moore Lappe (Democratic Socialists of America, Institute for Policy Studies) and Joseph Collins (Institute for Policy Studies), authors of the book "Food First".[59]

Proof of DSA membership

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Enlargement

Madison Democratic Socialists of America confirmed Senator Sanders' long suspected DSA membership on page one of their Fall 2014 newsletter (though getting his state of origin incorrect).

Equally important , we featured a petition to encourage Bernie Sanders - the independent Maine Senator and DSA member - to run for president, collecting over 75 signatures.[60]

DSA covert support

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Democratic Socialists of America’s support for Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has been explicit. The national organization website announces “Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) strongly supports Senator Sanders as the strongest candidate for President of the United States.

DSA national director Maria Svart, in her guidance to locals, said “Our political goal is to generate support for Bernie through visibility and momentum, and do what we can to influence his campaign to have better perspective and platform around institutional racism. Our organizational goal is to GROW DSA so that after the election, we are significantly stronger and can continue fighting for democratic socialism.”

Svart noted that there are a fair number of things that locals can do as locals, including creating forums or other events with titles like “What is Democratic Socialism and Why Does Bernie Support It?” Other moves include contacting other independent organizations that might be interested in the campaign, including “People for Bernie,” a group led by Occupy veterans.

But, she emphasized, “We are running an UNCOORDINATED campaign. This means we are not communicating with the Bernie Sanders official campaign. If individual DSAers show up to a Bernie campaign event in a DSA T-shirt, that’s OK, but not coordinating with the campaign in any way.”

In particular, the organization will not, for the present, do any official fundraisers. In a May 24 update in response to questions from locals around the country, Svart emphasized “No one should organize a fundraiser as DSA. You should not have DSA literature. You should not introduce yourself as a DSAer if you give remarks. You should not use a DSA list to invite people.”[61]

Clinton/Pinochet letter

On October 21, 1998, many Members of Congress wrote a letter to President Bill Clinton, urging him to release information to a Spanish judge investigating former Chilean President Pinochet for alleged crimes committed during and after the overthrow of the Marxist Allende government.

Dear Mr. President:
The October 17 arrest of General Augusto Pinochet in London is a good example of how the goals you outlined in your anti-terrorism speech at the United Nations can be put into practice. Indeed, when the rule oflaw is applied to combat international lawlessness,humanity's agenda gains...we call upon you to ensure that the U.S. government provides Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon material related to Pinochet's role in international terrorism -- material and testimony that the U.S. government has thus far withheld.

Signatories included Rep. Bernie Sanders.[62]

Colombia Support Network letter

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In 2002, the Colombia Support Network organized a :dear colleague" letter to President Andres Pastrana Arango, of Colombia, through Ned Steiner, a staffer in Rep. Sam Farr's office.

The letter called on President Pastrana to end a military blockade on the Colombian town of San Jose de Apartado, a sister community of Madison Wisconsin, where the Colombia Support Network is based.

We write to you to bring your attention to the humanitarian crisis facing the civilian population of the Peace Community San Jose de Apartadó and its outlying settlements.
We urge the appropriate authorities of your government to dismantle the paramilitary checkpoint on the road between San Jose and Apartadó, ensure the continued safety of the road, and fully investigate recent threats and attacks on the Peace Community.
The Peace Community San Jose de Apartadó and its settlements, including the village of La Union, receive the permanent accompaniment of international organizations.

These include Peace Brigades International (PBI), as well as the U.S. Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), which currently has two US citizens in La Union. We support the work of these two respected organizations as well as the Peace Community in its effort to build a non-violent alternative to the conflict.

Representatives who signed the Colombia Support Network inspired letter in 2001 included Bernie Sanders. [63]

2006 letter to Condoleezza Rice on Colombia

Alleged Colombian Army killings prompted Fellowship of Reconciliation to work with Representative Sam Farr to forge a response that would impact the 17th Brigade, the unit allegedly responsible for the violence against San José de Apartadó and communities throughout northwestern Colombia.

As a result, Reps. Sam Farr and Jim McGovern, wrote a letter to their colleagues in Congress urging them to join in calling on Secretary Condoleezza Rice to cut funding for the Colombian military.

Letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
(Deadline for Congressional representatives to sign: February 22)
We applaud the decision, noted in your certification letter of August 2005, that the US "will not consider providing assistance to the 17th Brigade until all significant human rights allegations involving the unit have been credibly addressed." Because the Brigade is a component of the Colombian Armed Forces' command structure and has been implicated in the above referenced human rights violations, we implore you to abide by both the letter of the law and the spirit of the law by withholding human rights certification for Colombia until the following conditions are met:

Signatories included Bernie Sanders.[64]

Backed by Barack Obama and Ted Kennedy

Obama campaigning for Bernie Sanders

Barack Obama and Ted Kennedy traveled to Vermont to campaign for Bernie Sanders during the Congressman's successful 2006 U.S. Senate race.

According to Democratic Socialists of America's Democratic Left, Spring 2006, page 4;[65]

The Democratic Party is not mounting a serious challenge, although a candidate may occupy the Democratic line. A number of prominent Democrats, including Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy and Illinois Senator Barack Obama, already have campaigned with Sanders.

Sanders/Warren relationship

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren first met nearly two decades ago when Warren was invited to speak at a dinner party for liberal lawmakers at the Washington home of Representative Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat.

Warren, who had not yet published “The Two-Income Trap,” the 2003 book that would vault her to national attention, recalled passing out photocopies of her research on the housing market to Sanders, who was then a little-noticed member of the House.

“Bernie started in with the questions,” Warren said. “We got into a deep conversation about it. What it meant. Why it was happening. What we could do to help.”

Over the years, Warren returned several times to DeLauro’s dinner salons, offering her views on the economic forces chipping away at the middle class. Sanders was there every time, she said. Then they talked in his office and by phone.

“It was organic,” Warren said of the relationship. “It kind of grew up.”

The two bonded over Warren’s research that showed how easy it was for middle-class families to go bankrupt if they experience a crisis like a medical emergency or job loss.

“That was the heart of it,” Warren said. “That is what Bernie and I talked about. How it was that the American middle class became so vulnerable.”

On WDEV, where he hosted “The Bernie Sanders Show,” Sanders invited Warren to discuss her findings from her home in Cambridge. The two were earnest and in constant agreement.

“Was it wonderful radio?” said Squier, the station owner. “I can’t say that.”

But the relationship became an important one to both of their careers. In 2008, Sanders, then a senator, invited Warren to speak at a series of town hall meetings in Vermont.

At one meeting, in the Montpelier High School cafeteria, he described constituents forced to split wood to heat their homes because of the high cost of heating oil, while Warren displayed bar graphs on a screen that showed how mortgage payments and health insurance costs had devoured paychecks between 1970 and 2000.

Two years later, Sanders urged President Obama to pick Warren to help set up the new Consumer Protection Financial Bureau, and when he did, applauded the president for turning to “a tough and brilliant advocate” to ensure Americans would not be “ripped off by large banks and financial institutions.”

When Warren ran for the Senate against Scott Brown in 2012, Sanders campaigned for her in the towns in the Berkshires that are so much like his home state of Vermont.

“I knew Elizabeth Warren before she was Elizabeth Warren,” Sanders told about 200 politicians and union activists at a breakfast event in Pittsfield that year. “I knew her when she was writing books and working as an educator.”

The two faced their greatest rift earlier this year, however, when Warren refused Sanders’ repeated entreaties to endorse his run for the presidency.

Given their shared values and history, her stance angered many on the left, but Sanders’ aides insist he bears no grudge.

They point out that Warren was the only Democratic woman in the Senate not to endorse Hillary Clinton early in the primary and that she waited until June to back Clinton, after the former secretary of state had effectively secured the nomination.

“The fact that she chose not to endorse until the voting was over is a big deal,” said Tad Devine, a Sanders adviser. “That’s something that anyone would appreciate.”

Last month, in a fence-mending gesture, Warren accepted Sanders’ invitation to join him at a Clinton campaign rally in Colorado. There, she paid tribute to his failed campaign.

“To every person who ‘felt the Bern’ during the primary, America and the Democratic Party know the power and energy of the progressive movement,” Warren told the crowd.

Now, as Democrats face a grim and uncertain future under a Trump White House and a Republican-led Congress, Warren and Sanders have been among the most vocal party figures trying to chart a path forward.

Paul Kirk, who was Massachusetts’ interim senator from 2009 to 2010, after Edward M. Kennedy died, said Warren’s voice will be vital as a leading critic of Wall Street. And Sanders’ influence may grow, Kirk said, because his campaign, like Trump’s, showed how much voters want to dismantle the political establishment.

“Senator Sanders arguably has more credibility than before because, for the Democrats, he was the authentic change agent,” said Kirk, a former Democratic National Committee chairman who endorsed Sanders in the primary. “His voice, on the Democratic side of the aisle, will have even more resonance.”

On that point, even detractors agree.

“They’re going to be a voice within the party that has to be listened to,” said former senator Judd Gregg, a New Hampshire Republican, who pointed out that Warren and Sanders have pushed for single-payer health care, tax increases on the wealthy, and debt-free college. “They’re carrying the mantle of socialism, and it’s on the rise in the Democratic Party.’’[66]

European Socialist ties

The Party of European Socialists dialogue with the US Democrats and the Transatlantic partnership "was a priority over the last years" (written in 2009).

Delegations, meetings and exchanges of information were held on a regular basis. After the victory in the Congress, where the Democrats won the double majority, a Party of European Socialists Delegation, led by PES President Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, discovered the new mood in Washington D.C., on 15-18 April 2007. It had meetings with Governor Howard Dean, Chair of the DLC; Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA), Chairman of the Committee on Financial Services; Senator Bernie Sanders and with Senator Ben Cardin; John Podesta, CEO of the Center for American Progress, Former Chief of staff of President Clinton; John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO and Andy Stern, Chair of Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The underlying motive of the delegation was reiterated with the need for US and EU progressive forces to actively prepare for the post-Bush EU-US relations. [67]

Peace Action support

In 2006, Peace Action PAC helped to elect several peace candidates like Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

Peace Action endorses and contributes directly to worthy candidates, sometimes with cash contributions through Peace Action PAC, more often by hiring experienced organizers to work on candidates’ campaigns in order to mobilize the peace constituency. We are the only peace organization in the peace movement that utilizes both of these political strategies, especially at the grassroots level.
We can help change the direction of our country next year by electing more progressives who reflect Peace Action’s values. The first steps toward developing real change in this country begins by electing candidates who believe real security comes through international cooperation, the abolition of nuclear weapons and the transfer of Pentagon bloat to government programs for human needs. Once elected, they’ll have the political power to throw off the yoke of the radical right[68]

Congressional Progressive Caucus

As of February 20 2009 Bernie Sanders was listed as a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.[69]

Vietnam delegation

U.S. Sen. Al Franken is part of a Senate delegation that will travel to Vietnam July 2010.

The group will "look into environmental remediation of dioxin and the joint funding of medical services for people with disabilities, and meet with Vietnamese government officials to discuss education initiatives, labor issues and trade relations."

Other Senators on the Vietnam leg of the trip are: Democratic Sens. Tom Harkin of Iowa, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Jeff Merkley of Oregon).[70]

Meeting Vietnamese PM

Vietnam attaches importance to its cooperation with the US and wishes to develop the relationship both bilaterally and multilaterally, said National Assembly (NA) Vice Chairman Nguyen Duc Kien.

Kien made the statement while receiving a US parliamentary delegation led by Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labour and Pensions (CHELP), in Hanoi on July 7, 2010.

He acknowledged positive and effective developments in the relations between the two countries in general and between the two parliaments in particular.

The NA Vice Chairman requested that the US parliamentarians, with their influence, make active contributions to developing the bilateral ties, especially in economics, trade and investment, facilitate Vietnamese exports to the US market as well as the implementation of existing commitments between the two countries in health, education and training and in addressing the consequences of Agent Orange/dioxin in Vietnam.

For his part, Senator Harkin said that during his first return to Vietnam since 1995, he has witnessed rapid changes in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City . He expressed his wish to make more contributions to strengthening bilateral relations in health, education and trade.

Regarding the settlement of the AO/dioxin consequences in Vietnam , the senator said he considers it a moral obligation and an important issue. He promised that with his role and duty, he would contribute more to addressing this issue.

On the same day, the US delegation was received by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, who highly valued Senator Harkin's great contributions to boosting the normalisation of Vietnam-US ties as well as his support for the US government's activities to help Vietnam overcome the aftermaths of AO/dioxin.

PM Dung also suggested the US government and parliament increase their assistance for Vietnam to redress serious effects caused by the toxic chemical, especially in cleaning dioxin-contaminated land areas and seeking over 300,000 Vietnamese people missing in the war.

He expressed his wish that Senator Harkin, Enhanced Coverage Linking as the CHELP Chairman, continues fostering the bilateral ties in health, education, labour and climate change.

The US delegation also had a working session with Minister of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan during which the two sides expressed that they are ready to strengthen cooperation and information exchange on issues relating to labour and the rights of labourers.

On the occasion, the US parliamentarians held a press briefing to inform about the results of their Vietnam visit.

Speaking at the meeting, Senator Harkin affirmed that based on statistics collected during their trip to witness dioxin cleaning activities in the central city of Da Nang, one of the hardest-hit localities by US bombs during the war, the clearance of the toxic chemical is totally feasible.

He also pledged that as a senator, he would try his best to accelerate the dioxin clearance process in Vietnam .

Regarding the two countries' 15-year-old diplomatic ties, the senator said that members of both the US Senate and House of Representatives had a positive response to the development of the bilateral ties.

"We can not change the past but we can make the future better", he added.

Sharing views with Harkin, Senator Bernie Sanders said he was proud of great achievements in the Vietnam-US relation over the past 15 years and vowed to further develop the bilateral ties in the future.

About the AO/dioxin issue, he said that it is the issue of not only Vietnam but also US war veterans as they themselves and their families have been seriously affected by the toxic chemical.[71]

Supported by Council for a Livable World

Bernie Sanders is very close to the Council for a Livable World.

Electoral support

The Council for a Livable World, founded in 1962 by long-time socialist activist and alleged Soviet agent, Leo Szilard, is a non-profit advocacy organization that seeks to "reduce the danger of nuclear weapons and increase national security", primarily through supporting progressive, congressional candidates who support their policies. The Council supported Bernie Sanders in his successful Senate run as candidate for Vermont.[72]

"Is the Pentagon Budget Increase Needed?"

February 3, 1999 Council for a Livable World convened a seminar in Rayburn House on "Is the Pentagon Budget Increase Needed?"

Participants were;

Drinan Award

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The Father Robert F. Drinan National Peace and Human Rights Award was established in 2006. The award is annually presented by the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and Council for a Livable World to individuals who exemplify the late Father Drinan's commitment |to peace and human justice".

Following Feinstein’s speech, Sen. Bernie Sanders addressed the crowd and shifted the discussion from nuclear weapons to the U.S. military budget. Sanders noted that with the money America spends on one week of the war in Iraq, the United States could ensure that every man, woman and child in the United States has primary health care. He also mentioned Vermont’s new claim-to-fame: it’s the only state that Bush has never visited in his time in the White House – a fact that drew laughs and cheers from the audience.[75]

2012 CLW Senate victories

2012 CLW Senate Victories were;

Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Chris Murphy (D-CT) Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).[76]
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When backing Sanders again in 2012, the Council website explained;[77]

Bernie, as he is universally known, has a perfect record on Council for a Livable World’s voting scorecard on key national security issues, marred only by one voting absence in four years. He opposed the authorization for war in Iraq when in the House and supported measures in both the Senate and House to withdraw troops...
He also opposed additional funding for national missile defense and efforts to cut U.N. peacekeeping funds. He enthusiastically endorsed the New START treaty and opposed all Republican attempts to cripple the agreement.
Progressives were electrified in December when Bernie Sanders launched a one-man filibuster against the Obama tax cut deal that lasted for 8 hours and 37 minutes. That’s Bernie. He speaks his mind and does not fear the political implications.
Indeed, he has consistently fought to keep the Democrats from conceding too much to Republicans eager to adopt legislation to shred the social safety net and cut back domestic spending programs...
Council for a Livable World endorses Bernie Sanders for U.S. Senate with the greatest enthusiasm. His frank, open, no-nonsense style is a breath of fresh air in the U.S. Senate. He is committed to the elimination of weapons of mass destruction, opposes preemptive wars and works hard on these issues.

CLW Inauguration event

Council for a Livable World and the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation hosted an event on Monday, January 21, 2013 celebrating the second inauguration of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden and theirr endorsed candidates in the 113th Congress. The event was held at the Phoenix Park Hotel ballroom across from Union Station and just two blocks from the U.S. Capitol.

A number of prestigious guests attended the event, including Senators Tammy Baldwin, Martin Heinrich, Angus King and Bernie Sanders, U.S. Representatives Suzan DelBene, Lois Frankel and Mark Takano, United Steel Workers International President Leo Gerard, host of The Ed Show on MSNBC, Ed Schultz and Vicki Hansen Thackray from the executive committee of Democrats Abroad.

Gary Collins, President of the board of Council for a Livable World, kicked off the celebration with a short speech highlighting the work of the Council during the 2012 election cycle.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the longest serving independent in Congressional history, was our next speaker. Sen. Sanders electrified the room as usual, and used his time in front of the audience to discuss economic inequalities in the United States and what is necessary to address this pressing issue..[78]

The Progressive

Sanders has been a contributor to the liberal magazine, The Progressive.

Venezuelan gas

He rankled the Bush administration in 2006, by orchestrating a deal with Venezuela's government-owned Citgo oil company to provide low-cost heating oil to poor Vermonters. That provided fodder to critics who cast Sanders as a soulmate of Hugo Chavez, the leftist Venezuelan President.[79]

The John Graham Emergency Service Shelter in Vergennes, Vermont witnessed the commitment of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to work towards aiding the poor, be they in Venezuela, the United States, or in any other place in the world.

Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) joined Venezuelan Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez, CITGO CEO Felix Rodriquez, Citizens Energy President Joseph Kennedy, and representatives of the Vermont Fuel Dealers and the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO) for the first delivery of fuel under the new discounted heating oil program established by the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the State of Vermont. The first delivery was made to the John Graham Emergency Service Shelter.

Under the deal brokered by Rep. Sanders, more than 2.5 million gallons of discounted heating oil will be brought into Vermont. Of that, 2.4 million gallons of the oil will be sold at a 40 percent discount to individual participants of Vermont's Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Crisis Fuel Assistance Program, and WARMTH Program. The remaining 108,000 gallons of heating oil will be distributed free of charge to homeless shelters throughout Vermont.

I am very pleased that we were able to establish this program and bring much-needed relief to thousands of senior citizens and low-income families, said Rep. Sanders. At a time when home heating oil costs are skyrocketing, this discounted fuel will help ensure that no one in Vermont goes cold this winter. I want to thank the Venezuelan government, CITGO, Citizens Energy, CVOEO, the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association and the State of Vermont for their hard work in making this happen,? he continued.

Under the program, CITGO will work with CVOEO and Citizens Energy, both non-profit organizations, to distribute the discounted oil. Citizens Energy will purchase over 2.5 million gallons of heating oil at a 40 percent discount from CITGO. The State of Vermont and CVOEO will be responsible for identifying low-income families and individuals using the same criteria used for the distribution of federal heating assistance benefits under LIHEAP, the Crisis Fuel Program and WARMTH.

"This is not about politics, nor is it not about oil. This is about our government in Venezuela acting as a good neighbor, and stepping in to do the right thing. This arrangement represents the strong ties between the people of the U.S. and the people of Venezuela, helping each other through tough times, since we are all Americans," said Ambassador Alvarez.

"We are happy to give back to the communities in which CITGO does business. Low-income Americans were hit hard by rising fuel prices following the hurricane tragedies, and with this gesture, hopefully no one in Vermont will be left out in the cold this winter," said Felix Rodriguez, CEO of CITGO Petroleum Corporation.

"We're proud to work with my good friend, Congressman Bernie Sanders, and CITGO to help relieve the burden of high energy prices on the poor," said Citizens Energy Chairman Joseph P. Kennedy II. "Congressman Sanders has devoted his whole career to helping those in need. For their part, Felix Rodriguez and CITGO have shown extraordinary concern for ordinary people who are struggling to stay warm. Together, we're working to make sure that no one is left out in the cold."[80]

Supporting Coalition of Immokalee Workers

Rep. John Conyers, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (speaking) and Sen. Dick Durbin, joined by AFL-CIO President John Sweeney (second from left) gathered in the shadow of the Capitol building in Washington, DC, March 13th 2008
.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers' petition drive to end sweatshop conditions in Florida's tomato fields received a warm welcome in Washington, DC. Senator Dick Durbin joined Senator Bernie Sanders, Representatives Dennis Kucinich and John Conyers, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and representatives from dozens of human rights, religious, labor, and student organizations joined the CIW's call to end sweatshops and slavery in the fields.

Senator Sanders decried the "desperate conditions, conditions that in some cases are so extreme that even the Bush Administration has brought slavery charges," in Florida's fields, and announced that a hearing into those conditions is scheduled for April 15th.

Senator Durbin announced that a letter had been sent to "seven companies -- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Winn-Dixie Stores Inc., Kroger Co., Publix, Safeway Inc., US Food Service, Supervalu Inc., and Sysco Corp. -- asking them to join McDonald's and Yum Brands in the extra penny a pound program."[81]

Thanks from progressives

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In 2012 several progressive groups thanked Senator Sanders for his support.

Communist John Case, on "Sanders for President"

In response to an organized campaign to draft Sanders for a presidential run in 2012, Communist Party USA member John Case wrote on the Political Affairs blog;[82]

To use Carl Davidson's excellent slogan around which left and working class forces can mobilize-- "peace and prosperity vs war and austerity" -- this is clearly a time when we can qualitatively expand the base of support for the principles the slogan expresses. The question is: can we do this and not end up playing a Nader-like spoiler role, that concludes by electing the Right, in those campaigns, primaries, etc where our main objective is to move the political center lelftward, and strengthen the hand of center forces against the right. Of course, in those campaigns where the left coalition has winning chances, where the center is ready to be led by left forces, tactics differ.

The complexity of the US political process at this moment requires shrewd and careful AND BOLD calculations There are few, if any, politicians on the left more shrewd than Bernie Sanders. I am not convinced about Bernie's denials. I got to know him somewhat in my years as a UE rep in Vt, and later as DO for the Communist Party in N. New England. With a few arguable exceptions, he has always -- both ideologicaly and politically -- pursued a working class line. As important, he become a demonstrated master of very concrete tactics directed at isolating the right, without appearing irresponsible or reckless to center forces. He kept focused on the concretes -- especially economics, and non-corrupt governance -- that blunted repeated attempts by the right to isolate him.
He would have to run as a Democrat in the 2012 primaries, in order not to be counted as a spoiler. Unlike Nader, Bernie has never been a 'spoiler' politician. But running as a Democrat, after years of success as an Independent is something I think he would be temperamentally loath to do. Part of his success at independence is due to some very peculiar features unique to Vermont political history, that would not be practical to reproduce nationally. Nonetheless, I am sure he will be tempted.

Personally, at this point, I think a primary challenge against Obama is a mistake -- the history of such challenges is not encouraging for defeating Republicans. Obama is not a Blue Dog-er, IMHO, but rather a liberal doing what Presidents do -- not straying too far from the Center. I think we should focus our primary challenge energies against the blue dogs and in local and state campaigns where we can strengthen and galvanize our grass roots base. But I am willing to be persuaded otherwise -- only if we ourselves--the Left are grown-up enough to be as shrewd and smart and flexible as Kucinich on health care, or Sanders through most of his career.

Anti "speculator" bill

in April 2012 Ben Cardin joined a group of his Senate colleagues in sponsoring a bill, S. 2222, which "will give federal regulators immediate authority to invoke emergency powers to rein in speculators who are responsible for rapidly rising gasoline prices".

There is broad agreement among energy experts and economists that speculators are one of the causes for the rapidly rising price of gas. Domestic oil production has risen to its highest level in a decade, oil supplies are greater today than they were three years ago and demand for oil in the United States is lower today than it was in 1997. Yet gas prices continue to soar.

There is something wrong with this equation. There is no logical reason why gas prices should continue to rise if oil supplies are up and demand is down.
The American Trucking Association, Delta Airlines, the Petroleum Marketers Association of America, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and other experts all say excessive oil speculation in the futures markets significantly increases crude oil and gasoline prices. A Feb. 27, 2012 article in Forbes Magazine cited a recent report by the investment bank Goldman Sachs pointing out that excessive oil speculation adds 56 cents to the price of a gallon of gas.

This "speculators" bill would set a 14-day deadline for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to take emergency steps to stop excessive speculation by Wall Street traders in the crude oil, gasoline and other energy futures markets. Also co-sponsoring the measure were: U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Al Franken (D-MN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Bill Nelson (D-FL).[83]

FightingBobFest speaker

Berniefightingbob.jpg

Bernie Sanders has been a guest speaker at Wisconsin's annual progressive Fighting Bob Fest, in 2003, 2005, 2009, 2011.[84]

San Francisco for Democracy event

San Francisco for Democracy, in association with Progressive Perspectives, proudly presented an evening with Senator Bernie Sanders Friday, February 25, 2011.

Senator Sanders is the most progressive member of the U.S. Senate. He understands that the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few is fundamentally incompatible with democracy -- and he acts on that understanding in ways that can inspire all of us. In his talk Bernie will be speaking about several key issues:

Co-sponsors were - Institute for Policy Studies ~ San Francisco Labor Council ~ Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club ~ San Francisco for Democracy ~ Unitarian Universalists for Peace/SF ~ Senior Action Network ~ Democracy for America/Marin ~ Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club ~ Progressive Democrats of America ~ Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club.[85]

Hi IPS rating

In 2012 “Congressional Report Card for the 99 Percent" , the Institute for Policy Studies examined 40 different legislation actions in the House and Senate—votes and legislation introduced—to ascertain the real allegiances of sitting members of Congress. These include votes to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, levy a Wall Street speculation tax, invest in infrastructure, and protect workers and student financial aid.

The Report Card also graded politicians for their commitment to reducing inequality and boosting the 99 percent. The report’s “Honor Roll” gave an A-plus grade to 5 members of the U.S. Senate, including Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN), Bernie Sanders (VT-I), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).[86]

"Strengthen Social Security" bill

Sens. Tom Harkin and Bernie Sanders introduced a bill. March 2013, to "strengthen Social Security by making the wealthiest Americans pay the same payroll tax that everyone else already pays". It is co-sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The companion bill in the House was introduced by Rep Peter DeFazio. [87]

Working America

Working America, the AFL-CIO’s more than 3 million-member community affiliate for people without unions, celebrated its 10th anniversary 2013. To mark the occasion, Working America unveiled its “50 in 5” initiative to expand into all 50 states in five years, as well as new efforts to organize workers at their workplaces. Said Working America Executive Director Karen Nussbaum:

Every day, we talk to people struggling to support their families or piece together a living with their current jobs. These are people who want to see changes in their communities or on the job. This expansion allows working people to make a difference in new states and communities.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said, “Working America is an example of the way the AFL-CIO’s door has to be—and will be—open to any worker or group of workers who want to organize and build power.” The expansion to 50 states, he said, means that every week, at front doors, workplaces and community gatherings all over America, thousands of people can build power locally.

Along with its expansion efforts, Working America will continue its year-round community organizing and electoral and legislative work, as well as pilot different methods of organizing workers on the job. Those models and tactics include a workplace organizing site set to launch in May called FixMyJob.com.

In 2013 , Working America was in a dozen states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Colorado, New Mexico, Michigan and Oregon. It recently opened offices in Texas and North Carolina.

Working America hosted a “50 in 5” launch at the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C., that included Trumka, AFL-CIO President Emeritus John Sweeney, American Bridge 21st Century President Rodell Mollineau, U.S. Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and other guests.[88]

Wall Street speculators bill

Sens. Tom Harkin and Bernie Sanders introduced a bill on March 2, 2013, to tax Wall Street speculators (S 410). A companion bill in the House was introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio (HR 880). "Both the economic crisis and the deficit crisis are a direct result of the greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior on Wall Street," said Sanders. "This bill will reduce gambling on Wall Street, encourage the financial sector to invest in the job-creating productive economy, and significantly reduce the deficit," with an estimated $352 billion over 10 years.[89]

Cuba visit

With an annual cost of roughly $2 million per detainee, the 13-year-old Guantanamo Bay Detention Center needs to be closed, U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont, said Monday.

Tester, who toured Guantanamo early February 2014,, said then the subject comes up later this year, he will push to close the facility, where the Department of Defense houses 155 detainees, many without trial, some since Jan. 11, 2002 and the beginning of the war in Afghanistan.

Tester toured Guantanamo Bay on Saturday as part of a two-day visit to Cuba, with Sens., Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

The senators also met with American Alan Gross, who has been jailed in Cuba since 2010 for setting up unrestricted Internet access for Jewish groups. Cuba considered Gross’ actions subversive and sentenced the Marylander to 15 years detention.

Tester said there was also talk with Cuban officials about the Cuban trade embargo launched in 1960 after the Cuban Revolution ushered Fidel Castro’s communist government into power. There is talk in the United States of easing the embargo and lawmakers from farm states see an opportunity for trade if that occurs.

Tester said the rule of Fidel Castro’s brother, Raul, could present the best opportunity for normalizing relations with Cuba without presenting a threat to the Fidel Castro legacy. But Raul Castro is old and the opportunity might not last forever.

“Raul is 83 years old and in very good health. He’s one of the few people who could do this from a Cuban perspective,” Tester said.[90]

Chicago elections/communists

Bernie Sanders and Scott Marshall

In April 2015, just a weekend away from Election Day in Chicago's mayoral and City Council races, two progressive candidates and their supporters pre-emptively declared victory in bringing forth a new kind of peoples movement.

"Together we've already fundamentally changed the conversation," said Susan Sadlowski Garza, candidate for alderman in the city's 10th ward.

Chicago Mayoral candidate Jesus Garcia, speaking alongside Garza, mirrored the explosive enthusiasm of the crowd of 700 gathered Thursday evening in Chicago's far southeast side. Thirty years after the shutdown of every one of the area's four major steel mills, the ward's neighborhoods are still reeling from the poverty and despair created by these acts of corporate greed.

The rally's list of speakers ranged from Sadlowski Garza, Garcia and Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis to U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, district Steelworker retiree leader Scott Marshall and East Side Methodist minister Rev. Z. L. Zocki. It was a snapshot of a movement growing on multiple levels.

"People are hungry to take Chicago back," said Garcia. He made it clear by "people" he meant working class. "You always treat working people with the highest dignity and respect and put their interests first," he continued, adding, "I need Susan in the City Council. We need someone who comes from Chicago's working classs." No one uses the eumphemism "middle class" in describing the 10th ward and its residents.

Sadlowski Garza is a school counselor in the same local elementary school that she, her four children and even her mother attended. She laid out a solid progressive agenda to "revitalize and unite" the 10th ward, leading with a call for a clean environment without toxins in the air and water and a call to direct tax dollars to developing green jobs at living wages.

Garza was introduced by Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis who made a surprise appearance, and the gathering reacted emotionally as she approached the stage slowly but deliberately, supporting herself on a walker. Lewis is recovering from surgery following the discovery of a brain tumor months ago. She recruited Jesus Garcia to run for mayor last Fall after her medical diagnosis forced her to drop out of the race against corporate Democrat Rahm Emanuel.

Lewis guided those gathered to look at a long-range picture: "This has got to be the start of a movement. We have the opportunity to change the political landscape," she said calmly and slowly, allowing the crowd a moment to look at itself and see a mass of steelworkers, teachers, high school students, Sierra club members, Working Families partisans and iron workers of many ages and hues. "It's messy, but this is what political democracy looks like," she concluded.

The Chicago Teachers Union made a conscious push after its 2012 strike to recruit and support candidates like Sadlowski Garza as viable candidates for the Chicago City Council. Tara Stamps, a fifth grade teacher, forced another Emanuel supporter into a run off in the West Side's 37th ward. Social Studies teacher Tim Meegan missed a run off by only two votes in the Northside 33rd ward. All the teacher candidates emphasized funding for schools, $15 hour minimum wage and opposition to privatization of public services.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders elaborated on the theme of building a peoples movement. "What we are doing is not just to make the 10th ward better," he said, "but demonstrating when people stand together there's nothing we can't accomplish."

Then he laid out what looked to the enthusiastic crowd a lot like a platform for the 2016 presidential race.

"We re gonna ask the richest people - billionaires and corporations - to start paying their fair share," he said right off the bat. Next he spoke of putting millions to work at green and living wage jobs by "investing in the crumbling infrastructure" and creating energy systems that cut carbons. He advocated free tuition in public colleges and universities, Medicare for All, raising Social Security benefits, overturning Citizens United and public funding for elections.

The rally took place in a former Steelworkers Union hall, just a stone's throw from the field where 10 striking steelworkers were gunned down by Chicago police on behalf of Republic Steel Corporation in May 1937 during the infamous Memorial Day Massacre.

"As the people from all walks of life band together to fight against a new era of corporate greed, the steelworkers who made the ultimate sacrifice would understand our struggle now," said Sadlowski Garza, the descendent of three generations of mill workers.

Change is in the air, observed steelworker retiree Marshall. "A powerful movement, led by labor, is being born."[91]

Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2015

S 299, the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2015, principal sponsors are Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.[92]

By May 20, it had accumulated 33 co-sponsors, mostly Democrats, but including 5 Republicans, and two Independents - Angus King, and Bernie Sanders. [93]

Courting Hollywood

With the dust still settling after Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s glitzy fundraising trips to Hollywood early June 2015, Clinton’s first official Democratic rival — Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders — slipped quietly into town Saturday for a pair of low-key events that didn’t raise seven-figure sums, but did warm the hearts of two overflowing crowds of Hollywood progressives.

Sanders’ supporters might be called the entertainment industry’s irreconcilables — the left flank of the Hollywood Dems’ most progressive faction, with activists deeply disappointed in Obama, who they supported, and unwilling to sign on to a Clinton presidential campaign. In the former Secretary of State they see another moderate waiting to happen.

Early Saturday morning, they filled the already blazing front yard of actress Mimi Kennedy’s Van Nuys home, and — at midday — the living room of long-time activists Betty and StanleySheinbaum’s sprawling Brentwood Park mansion, to hear the program of a candidate they see as everything Hillary is not.

“I’m here with my wife and my friends because we believe Bernie is providing us with the opportunity to have a voice and a role in the Democratic process at a time when progressives are on the rise,” said former California state Senator Tom Hayden, who introduced Sanders at the Van Nuys event.

“Bernie has launched a very critical campaign in several states,” Hayden said. “He’s actually doing well in the early polls. He has an opportunity to change the conversation in the country. He has an opportunity to be an effective debater (against Clinton) in the primaries. He has an opportunity to attract Libertarians and Republicans, as well as Democrats and Socialists. It always was a motley crew — the progressive coalition.”

With Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren definitely out of the race, Sanders — a self-described Democratic socialist — is the candidate who checks all the progressive boxes, earning him a devoted Los Angeles following. About 300 people turned out for Sanders’ two events on Saturday. Attendees included Days of Our Lives actress Deidre Hall, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas producer Richard Foos, Sister Act producer Cindy Gilmore Asner, filmmaker James H. Stern and actress/producer Sheila Emery.

In Van Nuys, Sanders told the crowd that the best part of running for president is being able to talk about the issues the other candidates are avoiding.

“Our campaign is catching fire,” he said. “It’s for one simple reason: We are telling the truth. And I think that’s what the American people want to hear. The truth may not be necessarily pleasant, but we can’t go forward unless we have the courage to take a hard look at where we are today. And where we are today is not in a good place.”[94]

Netroots Nation 2015

Speakers at Netroots Nation 2015, in Phoenix Arizona, one of the largest gatherings of progressives and the Democratic activist base, included Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley, Elizabeth Warren, Rosa DeLauro, Donna Edwards, Keith Ellison, Ruben Gallego, Raul Grijalva, Hank Johnson, Robin Kelly, Mark Takano.[95]

PDA support

Conor Boylan PDA, Bernie Sanders

In late April 2015, when he announced that he would enter the presidential race, Bernie Sanders was the relatively unknown junior U.S. Senator from Vermont. Now he’s everywhere.

Though the “Sanders surge” seemed to come from nowhere, it was long in the making. Sanders’ rapid rise in the polls, and his increasing visibility over the past few weeks, are in part the result of behind-the-scenes work by organizations like Progressive Democrats of America (PDA).

PDA was founded in 2004 by progressives at the Democratic National Convention who were disappointed with the party’s presidential nominee, John Kerry, but were unwilling to give up on electoral politics. One evening, at the convention’s conclusion, about 200 people met to chart a path forward.

“PDA was founded that night with an inside-outside strategy—to bring outside energy inside the party,” said Conor Boylan, who began working for PDA in 2009 and has been its co-director since 2014. “It was almost an insurgency: We’ll be members of the party, but we’ll also form our own chapters and hold the party accountable.”

PDA now has about 90,000 people on its email list. Of those, about 35,000 members actively support and participate in its work. It is funded by donations from its membership.

In early 2014, PDA began a petition drive to persuade Sanders to run for the presidency. When Sanders attended its tenth anniversary celebration in May of that year, PDA presented him with the petition. That event marked the beginning a strong push by the organization to encourage him to run for the Democratic nomination.

The effort paid off this spring when Sanders announced his candidacy. “We’ve just caught fire since then,” Boylan said. “So it has grown from this small idea—that we have to get Bernie to run—to him actually announcing. And I’m starting to think now that he could actually win this thing. It’s been amazing the way it’s gone the past 15 or 16 months. And where’s it going to end?”

Along with its sister organization, People Demanding Action (which focuses on advancing a policy agenda rather than electoral politics), PDA’s priorities are healthcare reform, campaign finance reform and environmental and economic justice.

House parties are central to PDA’s work. Its website allows people interested in volunteering for the Sanders campaign to sign up to organize a party or find one that’s scheduled near them. PDA sends organizers a kit with information on the basics of hosting a party and assigning people to different tasks, like handing out flyers and maintaining a social media presence. (Continued)

PDA’S early and energetic supporter of Sanders gives it a unique relationship with the campaign, Boylan said. “We were the first group to lead this effort. We stuck to our guns from the very beginning, when a lot of other people were focused on Elizabeth Warren.”[96]

ARA connections

ARA endorsement, 2012

The Alliance for Retired Americans endorsed Bernie Sanders in 2012.[97]

2013 ARA conference

Cicilline.PNG

Keith Ellison, Jan Schakowsky, Bernie Sanders, and David Cicilline addressed Alliance for Retired Americans 2013 conference.

2015 ARA National Legislative Conference

400 activists came to Washington, DC for the Alliance for Retired Americans’s 2015 National Legislative Conference in July . The activists reached more than 150 offices on Thursday’s Lobby Day, when they met with their Members of Congress and Senators and voiced their concerns about retiree issues. Alliance members lobbied their elected officials with very specific goals in mind, including: expand earned Social Security benefits; protect Social Security Disability Insurance; preserve Medicare and allow no cuts to it; and oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Trade Agreement.

Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, began the conference with a fiery speech on Tuesday. Several elected officials addressed the attendees: House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA), Senators Bernie Sanders (VT), Debbie Stabenow (MI), and Elizabeth Warren (MA) and Representatives Keith Ellison (MN) and Ruben Gallego (AZ). On Wednesday evening, the President’s Award was presented to Judy Cato, Executive Vice-President Emerita, for her activism and years on the Alliance Executive Board.[98]

March on Mississippi

Citing a pattern of civil rights abuses by Nissan against its predominantly African-American workforce in Mississippi, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, actor Danny Glover, NAACP President Cornell William Brooks and hundreds of workers, civil rights leaders, and social justice advocates converged on the automaker’s factory in Canton, March 4, 2017, to demand that the company respect its workers’ right to vote for a union free from fear and intimidation.

The March on Mississippi – expected to be the largest protest to hit the Magnolia State in years – follows a series of rallies at Nissan dealerships that swept across the South last month.

“I am proud to join in fighting to give workers at Nissan’s Canton, Mississippi, plant the justice, dignity and the right to join a union that they deserve,” said Sen. Sanders. “Nissan has union representation at 42 out of its 45 plants around the world. The American South should not be treated differently. What the workers at the Nissan plant in Mississippi are doing is a courageous and enormously important effort to improve their lives.”

The march was organized by the Mississippi Alliance for Fairness at Nissan (MAFFAN), a coalition of civil rights leaders, ministers and worker advocates. In addition to Sen. Sanders, Glover and Brooks, a diverse coalition of politicians and civil rights leaders including U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, former Ohio State Sen. Nina Turner, Mississippi NAACP President Derrick Johnson, and Sierra Club President Aaron Mair joined the march.

“Powerful corporations like Nissan are the poster-child for America’s rigged economy,” said Danny Glover. “Nissan’s arrival in Canton promised good jobs for the community, but instead the company has committed rampant safety and health violations and denied its workers their basic right to vote for a union free from fear and intimidation. Nissan workers in Canton have my full support for their fight for fairness and respect at the workplace.”

The March on Mississippi began with pre-march speeches by Sanders, Glover and others at 12:30 p.m. CST at the Canton Sportsplex, 501 Soldiers Colony Road, in Canton. Protestors then marched approximately two miles to Nissan’s assembly plant to deliver a message to the company: Workers’ rights equal civil rights.[99]

Staff

The following have worked as staff members for Bernie Sanders:[100]

External links

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