Not Bern-ed Out: Post-Election Sanders Supporters Should Stay Strong

Despite Bernie Sanders losing the Democratic presidential nomination in June, the revolution he started is still alive and well. He has not faded away like the other nominees, but still hosts rallies, released a campaign memoir, and was elected to the Democratic senate. People assume that the revolution of the working class is over just because we have been defeated by Trump’s hateful, racist, bullying campaign. Yet as countless marches and protests against Trump broke out around the country, the widespread demand for change lives on, especially with Bernie fighting for equality.

For us college students drowning in loan debt and struggling to find jobs, Bernie’s radical revolution was empowering. Those of us who work and go to school full time while watching our parents struggle under the burden of two jobs, living paycheck to paycheck, knew that we had not been forgotten. It was a revolution by the people, for the people. For me, seeing Senator Sanders speak in Irvine this past May was inspiring and the collective need for a major change was palatable. The truth and energy in Sanders’ voice resonated as the crowd went wild over how he would run our country with fairness and compassion.

There is no doubt that Bernie could have retired after his campaign, yet he has continued to stand for the issues for which he has always advocated. In September, Bernie spoke at a rally in Washington DC, urging Obama to shut down construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline at the Standing Rock Reservation in North and South Dakota. If drilled, the 1200-mile pipeline would violate Native American treaty land and contaminate local drinking and farming water. Bernie is adamant about stopping the pipeline because it would increase America’s dependency on fossil fuels. In more recent weeks, Sanders joined a second rally at the capitol in solidarity with protesters in North and South Dakota.

At the time of the September rally, Sanders called out big oil companies for their impact on climate change.

“We need to understand that the future of energy in this country is not more oil, it is not more pipelines and it’s not more carbon emissions . . . it is the transformation of our energy system,” he said.

Sanders has always been an avid environmentalist, determined to decrease pollution and protect nature. Thankfully, the many protests made an impact. The pipeline’s construction has been temporarily delayed pending further investigation into its potentially harmful environmental impacts.

Bernie also recently appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert promoting his new book, Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In. In his campaign memoir, Bernie focuses on the continuation of the political movement which he awakened. He focuses his platform on tax reform, lowering student debt and interest rates, phasing out fossil fuels, ending privatized prisons, improving healthcare for all, and working toward racial tolerance. In light of widespread disappointment following the recent election, Sanders is urging individuals to take advantage of their power: major political reformation will only happen when average people unite and get actively involved in local government to create change from the inside.

Sanders, adamantly continuing his campaign as an Independent, has refused to rejoin the Democratic party since his defeat by Clinton. He has been appointed to serve as the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and was also named Democratic Chair of Outreach. Sanders will monitor Congress’ budget to “represent the needs of working families and a shrinking middle class and not billionaires.” In these new offices he will directly challenge Trump’s presidency, which is important in the face of a majority Republican Congress.

In a press release by Senator Sanders condemning Trump’s appointment of the notoriously racist Steve Bannon as his chief strategist and senior counselor, Bernie stated: “Over the years we have made progress in becoming a less discriminatory and more tolerant society — and we are not going backwards . . . In a democratic society we can disagree all we want over issues, but racism and bigotry cannot be part of any public policy.”

Bernie supporters will fight against the anger and hate that Trump perpetuates, and we will stand in solidarity with our LGBT, Muslim, undocumented, and sexual assault victims. It’s up to our generation to decide if we will be the change that we want to see and reclaim democracy. I am confident that Sanders will continue to stand strong with those of us who want real change in the face of this brutal election. He remains a leader in the face of darkness. He will fight like hell for what he believes is right until the bitter end, whether or not we choose to stand behind him.

Emilia Williamson is a second year literary journalism major. She can be reached at eewillia@uci.edu.