I first saw Bernie Sanders speak in early November 1993, when I went to a brown bag lunch he held for voters in Montpelier, Vermont, a few days before NAFTA was passed. At that lunch, he explained how NAFTA would undermine workers rights, and American democracy. He turned out to be years ahead of his time.*
But I bring it up now because it relates to why I am proud to endorse Bernie Sanders for President of the United States.
Sanders is a fearless, experienced leader capable of seeing the truth, and standing up to big private power, even when its almost impossibly hard. President Sanders would always keep the humble, struggling, proud citizen at the center of what he does.
Here are 10 reasons for my support:
1. Congressman Sanders voted against the Iraq war, showing judgment and leadership when it mattered, and has held consistent and careful foreign policy views.
2. Senator Sanders has been a leader on finance, supporting a new Glass Steagall and introducing his own bills to break up the big banks.
3. Senator Sanders has led the fight against the XL pipeline, and for wind, sun, geothermal, and all renewable sources of energy.
4. Congressman Sanders opposed NAFTA, and has been a leader in the opposition to the TPP.
5. He has spent his career fighting private prisons and overcriminalization.
6. He has always understood the vital role that unions and institutions play in a more equal America, and fought for workers' rights.
7. He has long fought against high-stakes standardized tests.
8. He is a lifelong advocate for veterans, and a leader in health clinics and access to dental care and basic services.
9. He always been practical, with a long career of working across all party lines with respect.
10. Most importantly, President Sanders would put fundamental reform--including public financing of elections--at the heart of what he does.
America is in pain, and democracy is in crisis. Twenty Americans have more money than the bottom half of Americans. According to the New York Times, 158 families made half of all the donations so far in the presidential race. We have a private campaign finance system gives private companies and billionaires control over government. That's not American democracy.
I endorse Sanders because of my deep patriotism, my belief that democracy is possible and a thriving economy is possible, and we don't need to beg at the feet of the wealthiest donors to have a collective life worth living. Sanders has always paid attention to the root threats: inequity and excess elite power. He always explained in patient detail the way that privately financed elections and outside spending totally destroy our democracy. There is too much fear in our political life: he brings big dreams instead.
I thrilled to endorse on the same day as the Working Families Party endorsement. The WFP endorsement is a huge boost for Sanders' campaign. While Sanders has generated lots of grassroots enthusiasm, few organizations have stepped forward to endorse him. I believe the WFP endorsement will help encourage more organizations to step out boldly in support of his campaign and in support of the democratic revolution.
Sanders showed judgment, leadership, and a willingness to be his own person in his first years in Congress when I saw him at that brown bag lunch, and he will show judgment, leadership, and a willingness to be his own person as President.
I am proud to endorse him.** I hope you join me.
*It was a consequential and memorable lunch for me in other ways -- in the elevator on the way there, I met Howard Dean's then-Chief of Staff, who suggested that I apply for a job on his campaign the following year. I did, beginning my own life as a campaigner and organizer.
**This is in my private role as a citizen. MAYDAY.US is not making any Presidential endorsements.