For most politicians, an aspirational question like this one would be a grooved fastball straight down the middle. An audience member asked if Bernie Sanders, her hero, had any tips for realizing her dream of becoming the second Latina ever elected to the Senate.
“Let me respond to the question in a way that you may not be happy with,” Sanders said, before issuing the sold-out crowd at the Berklee Performance Center a surprising rebuke of identity politics.
“It is not good enough for somebody to say, ‘Hey, I’m a Latina, vote for me,’ That is not good enough. I have to know whether that Latina is going to stand up with the working class of this country, and is going to take on big money interests,” he said. “This is where there is going to be division within the Democratic Party. It is not good enough for someone to say, ‘I’m a woman! Vote for me!’ No, that’s not good enough. What we need is a woman who has the guts to stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, to the fossil fuel industry.”
The Vermont senator and former Democratic presidential candidate visited Boston to promote his new book, Our Revolution. In it, Sanders reflects on his unprecedented campaign, which, though it ended short of the White House, helped craft what he considers the most progressive platform the Democratic Party’s ever had.
President-Elect Donald Trump’s unexpected defeat of Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton, whom Sanders opposed in the primary and later endorsed, loomed large in the auditorium. Sanders assured the crowd there is a path forward, but it will require outreach to working class voters previously neglected by the Democratic Party.
“We can beat this guy. We can beat this agenda. But we have to do it in a way that we have never done it before, and it’s essentially reaching out to people who do not or may not agree with us on every single issue,” Sanders said. “But we have got to bring people together because we are fighting for the future of this country.”
The Bay State’s progressive leaders were in attendance Sunday night, from state Sen. Jamie Eldridge, to Cambridge City Councilor Nadeem Mazen, to newly selected Cambridge state Rep. Mike Connolly, the first member of Occupy Boston elected to Beacon Hill, who was endorsed by Sanders’ Our Revolution group. Sanders thanked the audience for electing Sen. Elizabeth Warren, whose mention drew hearty applause.
— Mike Connolly (@MikeConnollyMA) November 21, 2016
When asked his favorite moment on the campaign trail, one audience member shouted, “The bird,” referring to the time a sparrow crashed his rally in Portland, Oregon.
“That was weird,” Sanders deadpanned. “A little sparrow sitting up on the podium, staring up at me, telling me something profound that I couldn’t quite contemplate.”
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