Rising

Ex-Sanders campaign manager talks unity efforts with Biden backers

Faiz Shakir, the former campaign manager for Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I-Vt.) 2020 White House bid, said recent unity task force proposals to Joe Biden's presidential campaign represent an opportunity to push the former vice president more to the left, but activists will keep doing the work to hold him "accountable."

Speaking to Hill.TV's "Rising" Thursday, Shakir touted proposals such as federal investments in job creation for health care and childcare workers, among other things, as evidence that the groups, made up of both Biden and Sanders backers, had produced substantive suggestions. 

"There's an opportunity. I think you've heard Vice President Biden talk about wanting to be the most progressive president, and our task force members put some meat to the bones on that," he said. "It could be transformative and certainly a kind of a federal role that probably hasn't occurred in 100 years."

"Now, we'd have to hold him accountable to the suggestions that we made, the promises that he has made, and I think progressives holding his feet to the fire is important." 

The remarks come a day after the task forces put forth a list of proposals that represented both progressive policies lauded by activists and some suggestions that didn't go as far as liberals would have liked. Among other things, the task forces recommended eliminating private prisons and moving all electric power off fossil fuels by 2035, though they did not suggest measures such as implementing "Medicare for All" or legalizing marijuana. 

Shakir recognized that the task forces' results would not please every Sanders supporter but maintained that alumni of his campaign had a responsibility to work with the Biden team instead of folding up shop after Sanders dropped out of the White House race. 

"I think it would be a letdown to people who supported this cause if we just walked away from it and didn't then try, after having made a big public effort to change the direction of this country, to then engage with the nominee himself and his campaign to say, 'well where can you get to? How much further will you be willing to go to heed the fact that there are so many people out here who are looking for a different direction?'" Shakir said.

"I know it will let down many people, but even that progress to us is pretty critical," he added of the task forces' recommendations.