Bernie: Democrats Can’t Win Without Moving Past Identity Politics

Sanders critiques Democrats for abandoning the concerns of working people

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders seems to be just about the only high-profile leftist in Washington to recognize campaigns based entirely on identity politics are campaigns destined for failure.

“Here is my point, and this is where there is going to be division within the Democratic Party. It is not good enough for someone to say, ‘I’m a woman! Vote for me!'” Sanders told Boston Magazine. “What we need is a woman who has the guts to stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, to the fossil fuel industry. In other words, one of the struggles that you’re going to be seeing in the Democratic Party is whether we go beyond identity politics.”

“The working class of this country is being decimated. That’s why Donald Trump won.”

The senator from Vermont continued, critiquing Democrats in the wake of a historic electoral thrashing.

“But it’s not good enough to say, ‘Hey, I’m a Latina, vote for me,'” Sanders continued. “I have to know whether that Latina is going to stand up with the working class of this country, and is going to take on big money interests.”

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton based much of her candidacy’s appeal on her “historic” status as the first female presidential nominee for a major political party, and regularly played her “woman card.” Clinton’s campaign launched many of its attacks on GOP nominee Donald Trump with the objective of defining the now-president-elect as a sexist and misogynist.

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As many Democrats and media talking heads still struggle to understand how the identity politics-based attacks could have failed, Sanders sees a clear link between Democratic losses and a party that has distanced itself from the concerns of struggling working-class Americans.

“One of the struggles that we’re going to have right now, we lay on the table of the Democratic Party, is it’s not good enough to me to say, ‘Okay, well we’ve got X number of African-Americans over here, we’ve got Y number of Latinos, we have Z number of women. We are a diverse party, a diverse nation.’ Not good enough,” Sanders said. “We need candidates — black and white and Latino and gay and male — we need all of that. But we need all of those candidates and public officials to have the guts to stand up to the oligarchy. That is the fight of today.”

“And some people may not agree with me, but that is the fight we’re going to have right now in the Democratic Party,” Sanders continued. “The working class of this country is being decimated. That’s why Donald Trump won.”

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