Bernie Sanders, with DNC chair Tom Perez in tow, kicked off the Democratic party's national "We Apologize To White People Tour '17" as Sanders came to Louisville last night to make the case that Democrats have to be nicer to Trump voters or something.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders urged Democrats to reach out to President Donald Trump's supporters to promote a progressive agenda that includes guaranteed health care for all Americans as part of a strategy to rebuild the party.
Sanders told a boisterous crowd Tuesday night in Louisville that Trump has reneged on his promises to working-class voters. He said Democrats should reach out to disillusioned Trump supporters as the out-of-power party tries to recover from last year's election losses.
"You don't stand with the working people of this country by supporting health care legislation that throws 24 million people off of health insurance," former presidential candidate Sanders said of the languishing health care overhaul backed by Trump.
Sanders and Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez took their nationwide tour to Kentucky, where downtrodden Democrats saw their series of election losses mount last November when Republicans claimed the state House. Trump won 118 of Kentucky's 120 counties.
Democrats who once dominated Kentucky politics have since lost the governor's mansion and majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. Republicans hold both U.S. Senate seats and all but one of the state's U.S. House seats.
Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, called for a grass-roots resurgence in which progressives run for offices ranging from local school board to Congress. He said the party's strategy should include building a strong base in all 50 states, not just on both coasts.
"Real change ... never, ever takes place from the top on down," he said. "It is always from the bottom on up."
Sanders and Perez are seeking to jump-start grass-roots opposition to Trump by focusing on such issues as raising the minimum wage, guaranteeing health insurance coverage for all and making public colleges and universities tuition-free.
U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, the state's only Democratic congressman, spoke in favor of a "single-payer" health care system, drawing sustained applause from the crowd.
Yarmuth, who represents a Louisville-area district, said the "single-player" plan would loom as the biggest advantage that Democrats would have in next year's election if the national party embraces it.
The one thing Sanders has right is the fact that Democrats do need to pursue the 50-state strategy again and get involved in more local and state races, from school board and city council on up. That part of his message is something I 100% agree with.
The rest is, as they say, problematic.
I don't buy for a second that "disillusioned" Trump voters are going to turn back to the Democrats, especially in a state like Kentucky. The complete turnaround in GOP voter opinions on Obamacare once Obama left office is all the proof you need of that. They may not be happy with Trump, but let's remember that his approval ratings among Republicans are still in the low 80's range and aren't really budging that much from that point no matter how awful things will get.
I'd love to see Medicare for all, a public option, or single payer. It's good to run on those issues, but remember Trump's still at the break even point on approval among white voters. If you're in Kentucky and you've been bombarded with messages about scary brown people since 9/11, saying "Won't single payer be great?" isn't going to get through the fear when the GOP can counter with "Yeah, but they're going to give your job to a Mexican."
It's a good message, but we're pretending that Republicans haven't paid attention and haven't been counter-programming messages for the last decade plus on "They're gonna double your taxes, they're going to take your jobs, they're going to move next door and bring that culture with them." They've perfected this tactic, and punching through it to get voters to vote for their self-interest? Good luck, Dems have been trying to solve THAT problem for 50 years.
Why Bernie doesn't acknowledge that, I don't know. But blaming the Dems constantly for it isn't going to make Republicans come to their senses.