Ex-Sanders aide says Biden unity task forces need to go farther

A former spokeswoman for Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I-Vt.) presidential campaign said Friday that proposals put forth by task forces made up of supporters of Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden do not go far enough, while recognizing that progressives have won some concessions.

"I think that a lot of folks in the Sanders camp, particularly those who weren't a part of the process, were disappointed but not necessarily surprised. I want to really honor the efforts that were put in by the Sanders camp. And I understand the concessions they did get were difficult and are meaningful," Briahna Joy Gray said on Hill.TV's "Rising."

"The whole theory behind the Bernie campaign was that it recognized the crises that we live in now, we lived in before the [coronavirus] pandemic, and it was targeted to address those things. And ironically now that corona is happening, what we needed was not the middle ground between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden but something that was even more responsive than what Bernie Sanders had already put on the table."

The remarks come two days after the task forces unveiled a list of proposals that represented both progressive policies lauded by activists and more centrist approaches. Among other things, the task forces recommended eliminating private prisons and moving all electric power off fossil fuels by 2035, though did not suggest implementing "Medicare for All" or legalizing marijuana.

Gray cited the task forces' marijuana policy and refusal to address qualified immunity, the legal standard protecting police officers from litigation over their use of force, to bolster her claims that the proposals did not go far enough.

"It seems really empty and somewhat performative for Joe Biden to be claiming that he respects his so-called base...to be so overwhelmingly dismissive and cavalier about what would really be a political no-brainer," she said of legalizing marijuana, noting the disproportionate impact drug arrests have on communities of color. 

"It's really kind of thumbing your nose at the whole process to not seriously take those things into consideration."