EghtesadOnline: Senator Bernie Sanders caught the establishment Democratic Party off guard three years ago; few anticipated the strength of his candidacy and message.
Things have changed. Sanders announced on Tuesday he is running for president again — but this time, he’s not the underdog. This time, he is a frontrunner who, despite coming in second in 2016, has fundamentally altered the Democratic Party.
Sanders, now 77 years old, is the most popular senator among constituents in America and consistently ranks among the top potential 2020 candidates in early polls. That said, he’s joining a packed field, including progressive firebrands like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA) and Kamala Harris (CA), and possibly Sherrod Brown (OH). Prominent Democrats such as Joe Biden are also expected to jump into the race, according to Financial Tribune.
Sanders, in an email to supporters on Tuesday, laid out a vision featuring a number of his longstanding policy priorities including free college and Medicare-for-all. “I’m running for president because a great nation is judged not by how many billionaires and nuclear weapons it has, but by how it treats the most vulnerable – the elderly, the children, our veterans, the sick and the poor,” the email reads, news outlets reported.
As part of the message, Sanders is calling on one million supporters to sign onto his campaign and demonstrate the impact of grassroots backing — a key component of his 2016 presidential campaign that he intends to build upon this cycle.
“We’re gonna win,” he said in an interview with CBS’s “This Morning,” “We are gonna also launch what I think is unprecedented in modern American history and that is a grassroots movement to lay the groundwork for transforming the economic and political life of this country. That’s what’s different.”
Sanders, now a well-established contender, faces a fresh challenge during his second presidential run.
The rallying cries that distinguished Sanders from Hillary Clinton in 2016 — Medicare-for-all, a $15 minimum wage, campaign finance reform — are no longer unique positions. In some ways, that’s an advantage for him; he’s become a progressive father figure who can credibly claim a lifelong dedication to the issues the party is now standing behind.
“I don’t think anyone thought you could run a presidential campaign without taking money from corporate PACs,” said Heather Gautney, a former Sanders policy adviser and the executive director at Our Revolution, a progressive activist group inspired by Sanders.
“People who are running on Medicare-for-all or adopting these campaign finance ethics — all of that came out of the Sanders campaign.”