Fight for someone you don’t know. Health care is a human right. Billionaires should not exist. People over profit. Not me, us.

To Bernie Sanders, these sayings weren’t just applause lines or bumper stickers. They’re his life’s work.

With his campaign suspended, the Vermont senator’s presidential ambitions appear to have ended. Yet as a global pandemic exposes the deep vulnerabilities of our economy and health care system, the case for the bold visions of change his campaign promoted has never been stronger.

When historians look back at Sanders, they’ll be sure to note that. They’ll also undoubtedly note that he never gave up the fight. Not one inch, not ever.

It would be totally understandable if, in the wake of an exhausting campaign, Sanders wanted to take some time to relax. He does not. Instead, Sanders has continued to fight for working people as the economy continues its freefall and the death count from COVID-19 soars.

He continues to cry foul against the inherent injustice of skyrocketing economic inequality and pandemic profiteering. He’s promoted a new study from the Institute for Policy Studies, for example, showing that during the early weeks of the pandemic, U.S. billionaire wealth increased by $282 billion — an almost 10 percent gain — while tens of millions of workers lost their jobs.

He continues to call for a rapid transition to “Medicare for All” as tens of millions of people lose their health insurance in a deadly pandemic. He regularly cites a recent study by The Lancet medical journal showing that our privatized health care system costs 68,000 unnecessary deaths — about the equivalent of a coronavirus pandemic — and $450 billion in unnecessary spending — every year, compared to Medicare for All.

I had the honor of working for Sanders for a few years before he ran for president. For part of that time I worked as his driver, spending full days with him tooling around to events — in a borrowed Saturn, with duct tape holding the bumper on, in D.C., or his comically small Chevy sedan in Vermont.

I sat through countless speeches that, as many have pointed out, don’t tend to change that much. The top 1 percent are getting richer. The rest of us are struggling. Love him or hate him, you have to admit he stays on message.

I’m here to confirm that with Sanders, what you see is what you get — a man who cares deeply about advancing the “radical” idea that ordinary people’s lives deserve dignity and respect. He doesn’t much care for music or parties. He cares a whole heck of a lot about protecting Social Security and the Postal Service.

Perhaps more than any other politician in the modern era, Sanders has pushed forward a progressive movement for change — for Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, free college for all, free child care and pre-K for all, an end to mass incarceration, and so on. And he laid out how he would pay for it in intricate detail (hint: Wall Street and billionaires would pay higher taxes).

And whatever his critics say, he was effective.

In Congress, Sanders passed more amendments under a Republican Congress than any other member, leading admirers to call him the “Amendment King.” That meant more funding for health care, more support for veterans, and all kinds of other supports for working people.

Because of his links to social movements, Sanders found ways to be effective even when the laws didn’t pass. In the Senate, he introduced a $15 minimum wage and launched a name-and-shame campaign against Amazon and Disney for paying starvation wages. The law didn’t pass. But soon after, both companies raised wages to at least $15 an hour.

With his slogan “not me, us,” Sanders inspired a movement that won’t end with this presidential primary — or with Sanders himself. These bold demands for human dignity, linked not to the narrow politics of Washington but the power of ordinary people working together, won’t go away — not when the current crisis is making them more relevant than ever.

They live now with the millions of us Sanders inspired to fight for his vision of a more just society.

Josh Hoxie is an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, a 501©3 organization that does not endorse political candidates, and he is a former staffer for Bernie Sanders. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.

Copyright 2020 Tribune Content Agency.

(15) comments

Lev928

Bernie's ideology (and his personal lifestyle) support the store isles being stripped of toilet paper, meat and basic essentials for the good citizens. Go vote for that. Oh, wait ... you can't ... because his corrupt ideology caught up with him.

Lev928

So, a public news media organization is supporting a communist. Got it.

MD1756

If "Health care is a human right." why isn't he fight for more basic needs? Isn't food a right? With no food you don't need healthcare. Isn't shelter a right? Isn't clothing a right? At what point to we make people responsible for their actions? Despite his protestations, his proposals while maybe are an ideal to achieve are not in reality affordable.

If one reads about the "Green New Deal" it isn't really about protecting the environment as it is a jobs program but when you look at the numbers it doesn't make sense. The costs they use are at wages lower than they want for the minimum wage so the costs of the program are not realistic and low. I am a strong environmental supporter (clean up after yourself and try to minimize your adverse impact on the planet, but that is not what the Green New Deal is really about.

Free day care and free all day pre-k are just more programs that amke population growth more affordable. Why are those programs even considered when parents already don't pay as much in income taxes as those of us with no children and don't want population growth. We are forced to pay for something we believe is morally wrong (taxing someone more just because they don't have children and don't place a burden on society (state and local government budgets are significantly impacted by the cost of children).

His "us" doesn't include people like me because we believe it's time stop supporting population growth to the detriment of the planet including the extinction of other species.

gabrielshorn2013

Great points MD1756! Our overpopulation is inevitably leading to a pandemic the likes of which we have never seen. Look up "Three Seconds Until Midnight" by Steven Hatfill.

https://threesecondsuntilmidnight.com/

Dwasserba

Well said.

gary4books

"Billionaires should not exist." And why not? People that start an Amazon or build a Tesla create wealth and share it with jobs. But they also have the discretion to fund vast projects apart from government and many restrictions that they may not support. Space exploration benefits from private investments from rich people. So do many other worthy projects. People who work for money should not fear success.

gabrielshorn2013

Hear! Hear! Gary [thumbup]

threecents

I don't think anyone needs to be a billionaire. After $200 million or so, what good does more money do for you? Would a $billion limit really stifle anyone's benefits to society?? I don't think so, but I will never be in that position, so maybe I'm wrong. I am not against capitalism, but I am convinced that the huge disparity in wealth is the cause of most of our social problems.

gabrielshorn2013

So Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, Sergey Brin,and Tom Steir, all billionaire philanthropists, should just hand in everything they earned above $1 billion? What political philosophy is that?

marinick1

[thumbup][thumbup]

bosco

"What political philosophy is that"?.....that's Bernie and AOC's philosophy. Free stuff for everybody. How's that working in Cuba or Venezuela?[ninja]

TomWheatley

The main difference is they get to choose who, what, where, when, and how they help out with instead of the Government just taking it away.

TomWheatley

Thanks. Read up on Milton Hershey some time. Wish there were more like him back in the day and more today as well.

gary4books

My "best example" is Andrew Carnegie.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Carnegie

gabrielshorn2013

Great examples from both Tom and Gary.

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