If sociologists or political scientists are looking to fully understand the magic that was Bernie Sanders’ campaign in the Democratic primary, one needs to look not at an event from a year ago, but from a town hall event Bernie held in West Virginia just this week.
At the event, Sanders and West Virginia citizens discussed the state’s ails, highlighting what they stand to lose from the Republican healthcare plan. But somewhere along the way, as one of the state’s coal miners shared his view, Sanders was able to reignite his classic campaign rhetoric, resulting in widespread support for universal healthcare.
“Phil, let me jump in and ask you a question, said Sanders. “Because I certainly agree with you that ever worker, whether you’re a coal miner or somebody else should be entitled – Let me pose this question to Phil and to other people: we are the only major country on earth, the only one that doesn’t guarantee healthcare to all people as a right. What do you think? Do you think we should join other countries in guaranteeing healthcare?”
“Yeah,” replied Phil, “I think every American citizen should have healthcare.”
Phil’s statement was met with roaring applause from his neighbors. They, too, believed they had a right to healthcare.
Later, Phil even used the phrase that often gets Republicans in a lather: “free healthcare.”
That bears repeating: many of the same people who voted for their president on the basis of repealing Obamacare and are now facing the loss of their insurance, are now completely onboard with progressive politics concerning universal healthcare. Not only are they on board, but they gave roaring applause to the idea.
Of course they might not have arrived at this conclusion were it not for the Republicans’ contribution. After all, many of these smalltown Republicans had no idea how much Obamacare was helping them until they were faced with the actual reality of losing it in favor of Trumpcare.
Still, it was clear during the election as it is clear now: when Sanders speaks, he reaches people.
Since the election, Senator Sanders has been working steadily, continuing the revolution that his candidacy and platform sparked. While he could be spending his time in Washington D.C. licking his wounds and joining the Democrats’ 24/7 hyper-focus on anything Russian, the Senator is instead spending his time in places like Canton, Mississippi and Kermit, West Virginia, speaking directly to working-class people and sharing his vision for the future.
These small town visits are a key element of the continuation of the Revolution. From planned events like town halls to prime-time events like debates, Sanders is reaching into the hearts and homes of regular Americans, many of them conservative-by-birth, and showing them another way.
If conservatives in small towns didn’t know it before, they are going to learn just what, exactly, Senator Sanders and progressives stand for. And much to corporate Democrats’ surprise, Sanders’ revolutionary ideas are likely to be embraced by anyone he comes in contact with, no matter how conservative.
This clip and others from this event have me thinking fondly to the primary and the near-religious moniker from the progressive left, “Bernie would’ve won.”