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Sanders lifts spirits in West Virginia

Everyone interested in the future of the Democratic Party and the political future of America should watch in full the tape of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in West Virginia. Sanders appeared on a one-hour special yesterday on MSNBC titled “Bernie Sanders in Trump Country.”

The TrumpCare proposal offered by House Republicans is now under fierce attack from multiple sources, including groups representing doctors, nurses and hospitals. Yesterday, problems with TrumpCare were revealed in a blunt report from the Congressional Budget Office, warning that 24 million Americans would no longer be covered in the coming years if TrumpCare is enacted in Washington.

During the MSNBC special, both Sanders and host Chris Hayes drove home the point that West Virginians, including coal miner families, older consumers and poor citizens — who were among the biggest winners under ObamaCare — would be among the biggest losers under TrumpCare.

This dramatizes the point I made in my previous Contributors piece, “SanderCare rises, ObamaCare lives, TrumpCare falls.”

Sanders won strong support from West Virginia citizens at the town meeting on Monday by emphasizing how both ObamaCare and the single-payer system he proposes — which he called Medicare for All — protect them while the TrumpCare system would harm them.

{mosads}When Sanders told West Virginia, and the nation, that he wants to end practices in healthcare and the broader economy that make the rich richer and the poor and middle-class poorer, he was met with the same ovation he used to receive after giving speeches during the 2016 Democratic presidential primary.


All Democrats interested in winning in the 2018 and 2020 elections should watch the full Sanders town meeting to understand how he speaks to voters, why he is right on policy, and how powerful this appeal would be for Democrats in red and blue states alike.

Sanders understands one of the great truths about American politics and America at her best.

The 1960s were a golden age for equal rights. The decade began with Martin Luther King Jr. leading the civil rights movement for African-Americans. It continued with Cesar Chavez fighting for equality for Hispanics.

Then, as history advanced, the march for equality lifted women, and the march for equality lifted gays, and what Sanders seeks to do is universalize the march to equality to include all of the people all of the time.

Sanders understands that equality, justice, fairness and opportunity should include rural America, blue-collar America, working-class America, from the states on the coasts to the states in the heartland to the state of West Virginia and its people.

This principle should be obvious, but President Trump thinks it “makes America great” to roll back the advance of equality and progress. Sanders believes the way to “make America great” is to extend equality and progress to all, and to campaign in states such as West Virginia with fury to dramatize and condemn the bill of goods Trump sold those voters, emphasizing how progressives and Democrats will fight for them all day, every day.

What Sanders said in West Virginia is true for all states and regions, and the stories West Virginia citizens told on MSNBC, about healthcare and other vital issues in their lives, speak for citizens in states and communities everywhere.

As Sanders hit a home run Monday in West Virginia, Democrats can hit home runs in the 2018 midterms by fighting for the same people, the same dreams, the hunger for a better life.

Brent Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Chief Deputy Majority Whip Bill Alexander (D-Ark.). He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He is a longtime regular columnist for The Hill and can be contacted at

The views of contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

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