PHILADELPHIA – If Democrats thought Bernie Sanders would fade away following his presidential swan song at Monday’s session of the Democratic National Convention, they learned differently Tuesday.
The Vermont senator made a surprise appearance before the New York delegation and immediately and passionately renewed his campaign for the progressive politics he noted the Empire State is already practicing.
“The American people are interested in making sure they can put food on the table for their children, that they can send their kids to college, and that their communities don’t turn into toxic dumps,” he said. “Whether the media is interested or not, those are the issues we are interested in.”
In his convention speech Monday, the democratic socialist from Vermont whose primary success amazed almost all political observers, cited a long litany of progressive ideals that he says the party should continue to pursue. They included universal health care, government sponsorship of some college tuition, combatting global warming, and others.
Though his influence in the primaries resulted in inclusion of many of his issues in the party platform at this convention, he seemed to challenge New Yorkers to keep them alive.
“The political revolution continues,” he said. “Our job is to transform this nation.”
Despite chants of “Hillary, Hillary” from Hillary Clinton’s home state delegation, Sanders received an overwhelmingly positive reception just 24 hours after many in the state contingent were still steaming over disclosures that the Democratic National Committee had been tilting toward Clinton during the primaries. He received a warm introduction from Andrew M. Cuomo who broke into his best oratorical style to praise a relationship dating to the governor’s days as HUD secretary.
“If ever there were one champion to stand up for HUD and the poor and the disenfranchised it was Sen. Sanders,” Cuomo thundered. “Many of the points of his agenda he fostered we are already living in New York.”
Indeed, Sanders praised Cuomo and legislative leaders for paving the way on issues like raising the minimum wage and enacting paid family leave for the birth of a child. But he saved his most pointed remarks for criticism of the Republican nominee – Donald J. Trump.
“As I look to the future, there is no debate that we must defeat the worst Republican candidate in the history of this country,” Sanders said. “He is running for president of the United States to turn one group of people against another group of people. That’s not acceptable.”
He even resurrected Trump’s accusations from years ago questioning whether President Obama was born in the United States and was constitutionally eligible for election.
“That type of mentality will never see the inside of the Oval Office,” he said. “Our first task is to make sure Hillary Clinton is elected president.”
Sanders then called for overturning the Citizens United decision of the Supreme Court that allows big political contributions to political action committees, and expanding democracy by opening party doors to young people and more working people.
“You have to make New York State one of the progressive leaders of this country and show that progressive politics can work,” he said.
The state delegation, which is meeting every morning of the convention at Loews Hotel in center city Philadelphia, also heard from Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, who endorsed many of Sanders’ goals and urged they continue to be pursued.
“His supporters will continue to bring this country forward,” she said.
The meeting was presided over by Byron W. Brown, mayor of Buffalo and chairman of the State Democratic Committee. Sen. Charles E. Schumer is slated to address the delegation on Wednesday.