Cornel West explains support for 'Brother Bernie'
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Cornel West says he is backing Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSchumer: Franken should resign Franken resignation could upend Minnesota races Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign MORE for president next year because of the Vermont Independent's record on social justice.

West, an author, activist and former Princeton University professor whose work has focused on issues of class, race and gender, discussed his endorsement in an interview with Mic.

In the interview, he criticized former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination.

"It's just so clear. Hillary Clinton, she's been an exemplary neoliberal opportunist for a long time. Martin O'Malley strikes me as a kind of dyed-in-the-wool liberal. What we really need is a progressive to hit issues of Wall Street domination of the government," West said. "So in a sense it was very easy to endorse Brother Bernie. But we've got to always let him know that we keep the pressure on him."

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West first endorsed Sanders in a Monday message on Facebook.

“My endorsement of Brother Bernie in the primaries is not an affirmation of the neo-liberal Democratic Party or a downplaying of the immorality of ugly Israeli occupation of Palestinians,” he wrote in the post published Monday.

“I do so because he is a long-distance runner with integrity in the struggle for justice for over 50 years,” West said.

West criticized Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and rejected comparisons between Sanders and Trump, who have both taken the presidential race by storm.

“Brother Bernie and Brother Trump are authentic human beings in stark contrast to their donor-driven opponents,” he said in the Facebook post. “Yet only Bernie has authenticity and integrity, whereas Trump is for real but not right.”

“Trump’s attacks on precious Mexican brothers and sisters are unconscionable — even as his blessed mother was born in Scotland and grandfather (Mr. Drumpf) was born in Germany,” West said. “His kind of nativistic hostility could have excluded them.”

“And Trump’s unpatriotic complicity with the plutocratic corruption of our political system for over 30 years calls into question his integrity, including his commitment to ‘make America great again,’ ” West added, referencing Trump’s campaign slogan.

West said that he is particularly impressed by Sanders’s fight against wealthy special interests and income inequality.

“It’s very important never to downplay the critique of Wall Street domination or downplay the critique of capitalism as a whole,” he told Mic.

“In that sense, indeed, Bernie Sanders is a prophetic politician in his critique of Wall Street, in his critique of class inequality and economic injustice,” West added.

West’s endorsement gives Sanders the backing of a major voice in African-American intellectual life.

The academic’s blessing comes as Sanders has repeatedly wrestled with racial justice issues on the 2016 campaign trail. His campaign has twice been disrupted by Black Lives Matter activists during events earlier this summer.

He has since redoubled his outreach to minority voters and reemphasized his civil rights record.