Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Bernie Sanders holds a campaign rally at Island Park in Springfield, Oregon on Thursday. (Photo: Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard)

Sanders Calls for 50-State Strategy to 'Revitalize American Democracy'

"We need to plant the flag of progressive politics in every state in this country."

Jon Queally

Bemoaning a failing democratic process that leaves too many people left out,  Bernie Sanders on Thursday said his campaign would continue to bring disenfranchised people into the political process and said the Democratic Party as a whole must forge a 50-state strategy in order to restore civic vibrancy and fuel meaningful outcomes on the key issues people care about in every community nationwide.

"The Democratic Party has to reach a fundamental conclusion: Are we on the side working people or big money interests? Do we stand with the elderly, the children, and the sick and the poor, or do we stand with Wall Street speculators and the drug companies and the insurance companies?" —Bernie Sanders

Describing the Republican Party's platform as a "fringe agenda," Sanders said that problem of recent years is not that the GOP is "winning elections," but rather that the "Democratic Party is losing" them.

"In November of 2014," Sanders explained, "63 percent of people did not vote. Eighty percent of young people and low-income people did not vote. And I think the reason for that is that the Democratic Party up to now has not been clear about which side they are on on the major issues facing this country."

"Here is the truth," he continued. "You can't be for Wall Street and for the working people of this country. You cannot be for the drug companies and the needs of senior citizens and veterans. You cannot be on the side of those workers who have lost their jobs because of disastrous trade agreements and support those corporations who have thrown millions of our workers out on the street. The Democratic Party has to reach a fundamental conclusion: Are we on the side working people or big money interests? Do we stand with the elderly, the children, and the sick and the poor, or do we stand with Wall Street speculators and the drug companies and the insurance companies?"

Sanders added, "Now our job is not just to revitalize the Democratic Party—not only to open the doors to young people and working people—our jobs is to revitalize American democracy."

As Common Dreams previously reported, Sanders' remarks on Thursday echoed a message earlier this week regarding his intention to carry his campaign through to the conclusion of the primary season – even as the campaign has acknowledged his path to claiming the nomination over rival Hillary Clinton remains difficult.

Beyond the corrupt campaign finance system, Sanders said Thursday that the political system itself—"which makes it hard for people to participate"—is now clearly at a crisis point.

"I want to see this country have one of the highest voter turnout rates in the world, not one of the lowest," he said. "That is why, in my view, the Democratic Party has to be very clear: We need automatic registration." If Republicans are going to make it harder for people to vote, he said, the Democrats stated goal must be make it easier to vote.

"That's why, if you are 18 years old in this country, you should be registered to vote – end of discussion," he said to applause. "In those days where its applicable, we need same-day registration. We need open primaries."

Then, invoking the need for a broader state-by-strategy, Sanders discussed prospects for transforming the party's relationship with those many states, largely in the southern section of the country, which routinely elect Republican and other right-wing lawmakers.

"The truth is," Sanders argued, "the Democratic Party has turned its back on many of those states. We need a fifty-state strategy. We need to plant the flag of progressive politics in every state in this country. It's great that the Democrats do well in New England and in the east coast and west coast states and in the mid-west... but you can't turn your back on working people, elderly people, the children, and poor people in 25 states in this country. We've got to fight for every one of those states."

Watch the full rally and speech below (the portions referenced in this article begin at approximately the 45-minute mark):


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'A No-Brainer': Lawmakers Urge Pelosi to Hold Vote on Stock Trading Ban

"Perhaps this means some of our colleagues will miss out on lucrative investment opportunities," said House members in a bipartisan letter. "We don't care."

Jessica Corbett ·


Virginia Schools Sue Youngkin Mandate Making Masks Optional

The Republican governor wants to allow parents to decide whether their children should wear masks to school to mitigate Covid-19 transmission—guidance at least 58 school districts have no plans to follow.

Julia Conley ·


US Puts Troops on Standby as War Tensions Over Ukraine Mount

The U.K. threatens "lightning war" as military forces mobilize in eastern Europe.

Andrea Germanos ·


Advocacy Group Urges Pfizer to Combat Paxlovid Inequality

"Help end the pandemic this year around the world," one advocate told Pfizer. "Not just in a handful of rich countries."

Kenny Stancil ·


260+ Companies Demand 'Big, Bold Action' on Clean Energy

"The time to act is now," the firms wrote in a letter to Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.

Andrea Germanos ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo