At the height of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, a young Bernie Sanders was arrested for participating in a protest in Chicago. More than 50 years later, Sanders, now a U.S. senator and former presidential candidate, appeared before a crowd of enthusiastic supporters at the Miami Book Fair on Saturday to promote his latest book, “Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In.”
Hailing from Vermont, Senator Sanders became well-known for surpassing expectations in his campaign for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, winning more than 13 million votes while calling for a “political revolution.” Despite his loss to Secretary Hillary Clinton, Sanders continued to further the work started by his campaign by launching a progressive political organization called Our Revolution. The organization was created several months after the conclusion of his presidential bid, which he affectionately refers to in his novel as “one of the most consequential campaigns in the modern history of the country.”
As another sign of his growing influence, Sanders was recently elected as the new outreach chair for Senate Democrats and will begin serving during the next session of Congress. He has already promised to expand the Democratic Party’s grassroots efforts and to continue the “fight against bigotry.”
Sanders’ latest novel launched on Nov. 15, just four days before his hotly anticipated appearance at Miami-Dade College’s Wolfson Campus. Despite the fact that tickets for the event quickly sold out in the beginning of October, hundreds of eager Bernie supporters waited in the stand-by line in hopes of getting to hear him speak at the Chapman Conference Center. Those who couldn’t enter the event were invited to watch a livestream of his speech in a separate room.
Greeted with roaring applause, Sanders began by discussing the controversial outcome of the 2016 election. “I wanted to talk about the book, but I suspect that there are one or two other things on your mind,” he said.
Sanders went on to press President-elect Donald Trump for his leading role in the birther movement, calling it a “racist attempt to undermine the legitimacy of the first African-American president of the United States.”
“Hillary Clinton ended up getting a million and a half more votes than Donald Trump. So if anyone tells you that Mr. Trump has a mandate to go forward with some of his very reactionary ideas, tell them that he lost the popular vote by a million and a half votes.”
In regards to the issues of campaign finance reform, criminal justice reform and immigration reform, Sanders assured his supporters that “the vast majority of the American people” were on their side.
“When somebody goes and tells you that Republicans have some kind of mandate to cut social security and Medicare and Medicaid or to give tax breaks to billionaires or to ignore the overwhelming scientific evidence regarding climate change, tell your friends who tell you that that they are dead wrong.”
Sanders lamented the Democratic Party’s failure to reach out to enough working class voters during the election. “There are millions of working class people that are dying at a younger age than their parents because of drug addiction, alcoholism or suicide. People are out there saying, ‘Who hears my pain?’”
In regards to a possible 2020 run, Sanders was quick to change the subject. “It’s not the right question. We’ve got to struggle tomorrow. Our job is to educate, organize and mobilize. We’ve got other things to worry about today.”
Sanders’ novel has quickly become a bestseller on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.