NORTH CHARLESTON, South Carolina — Former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner (D) warmed up a crowd at a rally for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Wednesday by promising he would continue the legacy of Socialist Party leader Eugene V. Debs.
Turner was speaking the morning after the Democrat Debate, where several other candidates had argued that Sanders’s own “democratic socialist” ideology made him unelectable.
Not to Turner, who said that Sanders’s views fit within a proud left-wing tradition in America:
There is only one Senator Bernie Sanders carrying on the tradition of FDR; carrying on the tradition of that freedom fighter, Eugene Debs; carrying on the tradition of Mother Jones; carrying on the tradition of Fannie Lou Hamer … carrying on the tradition of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. … carrying on the tradition of Cesar Chavez.
Debs was the candidate of the Socialist Party of America in five successive elections from 1900 to 1920, and opposed the entry of the U.S. into World War I.
“We’re gonna show you what the people’s revolution looks like!” Turner declared.
Turner was preceded by Emilio Vicente, a self-declared “undocumented” immigrant, who said that he held Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Border Patrol responsible for the deaths of migrants who died trying to cross the southern U.S. border.
Vicente said that Sanders would bring “justice” for those who had died in U.S. custody.
Later, Sanders defended his unorthodox style and ideology as the key to bringing new voters into the political process.
“To defeat Trump, you cannot run a conventional campaign,” he said.
He went on to take several shots at former Vice President Joe Biden, noting that he voted for the Iraq War and supported reforms to Social Security and Medicare.
Sanders noted that his campaign had closed a large gap with Biden in the polls, pulling within single digits, with a chance to win in the South Carolina primary on Saturday.
What would win the general election, Sanders said, were not typical Democratic Party policies, but policies aimed at the working class, like a $15 per hour minimum wage and universal health care.
“What we are going to do is take on the health care industry and their $100 billion in profits and move this country toward ‘Medicare for All’,” he declared.
That meant, Sanders said, “No more premiums, no more co-payments, no more deductibles, no more out-of-pocket expenses, no more paying more than $200 per year for prescription drugs.”
He also promised that “Medicare for All” would include dental care, hearing aids, eyeglasses, and “all health care.”
As to what that would cost, he quipped: “We are paying for it now!”
Sanders also spoke of the urgent need for action on climate change, predicting that major cities would be wholly or partially underwater by the end of the century.
He added that on “Day One” of his administration, he would “legalize the sale of marijuana in every state in this country.”
Sanders also delivered a strong pro-choice message, promising to expand federal funding for Planned Parenthood, and specifically addressing the men in the room: “Women right now are under attack all over this country. Stand with the women!”
Sanders closed where Turner began, drawing parallels between his campaign and the civil rights movement, women’s rights movement, and gay rights movement.
Rather than President Donald Trump’s conception of the “good life,” which he said revolved around cheating for money, Sanders said, his ethos was: “We are stronger and more human when we care about other people.”
“Real change never ever takes place from the top on down … the only way change takes place is millions of people standing up and fighting for justice …
“In the wealthiest country in the history of the world, why do so few have so much while so many have so little?:
The 2020 election, Sanders said, was a chance to say: “Enough is enough!”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.