Robert Reich: Thanks, Bernie, You Did a Great Job

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Bernie Sanders gets a kiss from his wife, Jane, as he addresses supporters following the closing of the polls in the California presidential primary in Santa Monica, California, on June 7. Robert Reich writes that Sanders's courage in taking on the political establishment has emboldened millions of progressive Americans to stand up and demand their voices be heard. Lucy Nicholson/reuters

This article first appeared on RobertReich.org.

Dear Bernie,

I don't know what you're going to do from here on, and I'm not going to advise you. You've earned the right to figure out the next steps for your campaign and the movement you have launched.

But let me tell you this: You've already succeeded.

At the start, they labeled you a "fringe" candidate—a 74-year-old politically independent, Jewish self-described democratic socialist, who stood zero chance against the Democratic political establishment, the mainstream media and the moneyed interests. Then you won 22 states.

And in almost every state—even in those you lost—you won vast majorities of voters under 30, including a majority of young women and Latinos, as well as most voters under 45. You have helped shape the next generation.

You've done it without super PACs or big money from corporations, Wall Street and billionaires. You did it with small contributions from millions of us. You've shown it can be done without selling your soul or compromising your conviction.

You've also inspired millions of us to get involved in politics—and to fight the most important and basic of all fights on which all else depends: to reclaim our economy and democracy from the moneyed interests.

Your message—about the necessity of single-payer health care, free tuition at public universities, a $15 minimum wage, busting up the biggest Wall Street banks, taxing the financial speculation, expanding Social Security, imposing a tax on carbon and getting big money out of politics—will shape the progressive agenda from here on.

Your courage in taking on the political establishment has emboldened millions of us to stand up and demand our voices be heard.

Regardless of what you decide to do now, you have ignited a movement that will fight onward. We will fight to put more progressives into the House and Senate. We will fight at the state level. We will organize for the 2020 presidential election.

We will not succumb to cynicism. We are in it for the long haul. We will never give up.

Thank you, Bernie.

Bob

Robert Reich is the chancellor's professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and a senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as secretary of labor in the Clinton administration, and Time magazine named him one of the 10 most effective Cabinet secretaries of the 20th century. He has written 14 books, including the best-sellers Aftershock, The Work of Nations and Beyond Outrage and, most recently, Saving Capitalism. He is also a founding editor of The American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and co-creator of the award-winning documentary Inequality for All.

Robert Reich: Thanks, Bernie, You Did a Great Job | Opinion
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