“We have begun the long and arduous process of transforming America – a fight that will continue tomorrow, next week, next year, and into the future.”
by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer, Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders neither announced the end of his campaign nor endorsed his rival Hillary Clinton during a live-stream address on Thursday night, but told supporters his call for political revolution will live beyond his campaign and this election.
“When we talk about transforming America, it is not just about transforming elections,” he said during the approximately 20-minute speech.
Though he said it was “no secret” he has “strong disagreements on some very important issues” with Clinton, Sanders said he looks forward to working with the presumptive Democratic nominee in the future. He also re-iterated his commitment to making sure that Donald Trump is soundly defeated in November.
“The major political task that we face in the next five months is to make certain that Donald Trump is defeated and defeated badly,” Sanders said. “And I personally intend to begin my role in that process in a very short period of time.”
However, he added, the defeat of Donald Trump cannot be the “only goal” for voters this year and he vowed to fight vigorously on behalf of his supporters for the progressive ideals that drew so much passion and energy across the country over the past year.
“We must continue our grass-roots efforts to create the America that we know we can become” he said. “And we must take that energy into the Democratic National Convention on July 25 in Philadelphia where we will have more than 1,900 delegates.”
Sanders said he hopes people who believe in the core tenets of his campaign—including raising the minimum wage, securing a Medicare For All program, fighting runaway climate change and economic inequality, bringing a halt to endless wars, and battling for racial justice and social equity—will pick up the mantle of his campaign by sustaining populist pressure on lawmakers and institutions or by running for local, state, and national office themselves.
“We have begun the long and arduous process of transforming America – a fight that will continue tomorrow, next week, next year, and into the future,” Sanders said. “My hope is that when future historians look back and described how our country moved forward—into reversing the drift towards oligarchy and how we moved forward in creating a government which represents all of the people not just a few—that they will note that to a significant degree, that that effort began with the political revolution of 2016.”
“No, he’s not ending [the campaign],” spokesman Michael Briggs said Wednesday. “We’re working our way through that, how to go forward on that front. This message to supporters is going to be a lot broader than that.”
Rather, Sanders told supporters in an email this week, “I want to talk to you directly on Thursday night about what’s next for our campaign in a live, online video address at 8:30 p.m. EDT.”
Those who wish to view the live-stream were encouraged to RSVP in advance.
“When we started this campaign, I told you that I was running not to oppose any man or woman, but to propose new and far-reaching policies to deal with the crises of our time,” he wrote. “And for the past fourteen months, through the entire primary process, we’ve sent the establishment a message they can’t ignore: we won’t settle for the status quo.”
Speaking of Tuesday’s Washington, D.C. primary—which Hillary Clinton won—Sanders said: “After today, the voting is done, but our political revolution continues.”
The Vermont senator made similar remarks in a press conference this week, when he called for fundamental reforms of the Democratic Party.
Ahead of the address, ABC News hypothesized that Sanders “will likely acknowledge, perhaps just subtly, that his campaign is no longer focused on securing the Democratic nomination. Instead, Sanders hopes to keep his fans engaged beyond this election—exactly how, or engaged in what, remain the million dollar questions.”
Also to that end, the People’s Summit begins Friday in Chicago, bringing together many of the leaders and organizations who have participated in the Sanders campaign to discuss what’s next for the political revolution that inspired millions of voters during the primary season.