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Democratic Presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks during a Bernie's Back rally at Queensbridge Park.

Democratic Presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks during a Bernie's Back rally at Queensbridge Park. (Photo: Ron Adar/SOPA Images/LightRocket?Getty Images)

"I'm Willing to Fight for Someone I Don't Know": Sanders Speech Becomes Viral Rallying Cry

"There is an America that most people believe in," said Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. "It is an ideal. It's not a reality yet."

Eoin Higgins, staff writer

Sen. Bernie Sanders' closing remarks during his event with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in Queens on Saturday became a viral rallying cry for supporters of the 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful over the weekend as thousands of social media users promised to be "willing to fight for someone I don't know."

"Are you willing to fight for that person who you don't even know as much as you're willing to fight for yourself?" Sanders asked the crowd of over 26,000 who gathered at Queensbridge Park in Long Island City to hear the senator, Ocasio-Cortez, and others speak. An overflow crowd of an additional 5,000 people were reportedly listening to the event from outside of the park. 

Twitter users thoughout the weekend tweeted affirmations that they were willing to do just that, a continuation of sorts from the senator's "Not Me, Us" campaign tagline. 

The request from the Vermont senator was reminiscent of the message sent at Saturday's rally from Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, and in an endorsement video by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).

Omar emphasized Sanders' multiracial, diverse coalition of support.

"Senator Bernie Sanders is the only candidate that has built a movement, and continues to build a movement, that transcends gender, ethnicity, religion," said Omar. "And we know that in order to take on Trump, we're going to need a unifier, someone who understands what the fight looks like and someone who is ready to defeat him."

The future with a Sanders presidency, Omar added, is one where the U.S. could potentially live up to its promise.

"There was an America that I dreamed about," Omar said. "There is an America that most people believe in. It is an ideal. It's not a reality yet."

In her remarks Saturday, Ocasio-Cortez sounded similar notes, telling the Queens crowd that the Sanders movement is about more than simply changing the White House.

"Our priority is not only defeating Donald Trump," said Ocasio-Cortez. "It's defeating the system of which he is a symptom."

Rally attendee Tasfiya Kashem, 16, told Gothamist on Saturday that she finds the senator's message and advocacy to be an ageless message that transcends identity.

"He uplifts working class people, people of color and women, minorities in general," said Kashem. "I think a lot of people believe that since he's a white man, it's important to endorse other candidates like women candidates and candidates of color, but I think he's still the only candidate who works for those people."

Washington Post opinion editor James Downie wrote Sunday that Ocasio-Cortez and Omar's endorsements are part of a generational shift in progressive politics.

"Whatever happens to Sanders' 2020 campaign, the movement behind it likely will continue to be a force to be reckoned with," wrote Downie. 

At Jacobin, Kalewold H. Kalewold opined that the Sanders campaign's lasting effect will be the invigoration of a true working class, left movement.

"Something new is taking shape for the American left, a unique opportunity presented by his candidacy to build social democracy in America, rein in the long and destructive arm of American military policy, and unite a durable coalition that can build pro-worker policies for decades to come," wrote Kalewold.


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