Praising the "visionary agenda" of Sen. Bernie Sanders and decrying the corporate media's treatment of him as a "fringe candidate" in the Democratic presidential primary race, the Florida-based social justice group Dream Defenders on Wednesday joined the massive grassroots movement Sanders is building for his second presidential run.
"Our people believe in Bernie and his vision for building power with us. He has the most diverse, the youngest, and the most working class base of any candidate."
Dream Defenders initially formed to fight for justice for Trayvon Martin but has since blossomed into a broader "movement for freedom and liberation in Florida." A lengthy statement from the group's Fight PAC endorsing Sanders spotlighted his campaign slogan ("Not Me, Us") and explained that "Bernie is not our political savior. It is the movement behind him that will change this country."
"Our people believe in Bernie and his vision for building power with us," the statement said. "He has the most diverse, the youngest, and the most working class base of any candidate. He has more donations from students, Walmart Workers, Amazon workers and teachers than anyone else—at an average of $18."
"The mainstream media is afraid of this," the group added, condemning how some major media outlets have regarded Sanders' campaign. "That's why they've attempted to paint Bernie as some fringe candidate and his support base as comprised of only 'white Bernie bros' and erase the millions of black, brown, and immigrant youth and women at the helm of his campaign."
Welcoming the group's support in a tweet, Sanders thanked Dream Defenders for its "incredible" work in Florida, emphasized the power of young people, and reiterated his commitment to working with his movement "to create a nation where every person is able to live with justice and dignity."
Thank you @Dreamdefenders for your support and for the incredible work you are doing. Young people have the ability to create powerful change. Together, we are going to create a nation where every person is able to live with justice and dignity. https://t.co/NYSarf4Mru
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) January 8, 2020
Sanders also shared a video that Dream Defenders released detailing its history and goals. As the group's statement explained, "Because our lives and the lives of the people we love depend on it, we have chosen to take a side in this election: to stand against a world order rooted in greed, authoritarianism, and violence."
Dream Defenders highlighted how Sanders' agenda aligns with that of the group, including tuition-free public college, the elimination of student and medical debt, Medicare for All, a jobs guarantee, a moratorium on deportations, the reunification of separated families, overhauling the immigration system, ending mass incarceration, a just transition for incarcerated individuals, cutting the U.S. military budget, pursuing diplomacy with Iran, and respecting the rights of Palestinians.
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"Bernie's track record is consistent. Throughout his career, he has pushed visionary ideas long before they were politically popular," the group said of Sanders, a democratic socialist. "Bernie is not offering band-aid solutions to the crises we are living in. He believes in a total transformation of our economic and political systems."
Pointing to recent polling that shows significant support among U.S. millennial voters for socialist political candidates, Dream Defenders added that "the media's erasure of young women, and people of color as core constituencies of the Bernie Sanders campaign reflects the establishment's discomfort with acknowledging that the working-class is in fact multi-racial, and the growing consensus that capitalism cannot save us."
Kshama Sawant, a former software engineer and economist who now serves on the Seattle City Council as a member of the Socialist Alternative Party, also endorsed Sanders for president on Wednesday.
Sawant, who announced her decision on social media, declared that "we need a political revolution against the billionaire class, an Organizer-in-Chief prepared to build the movement of millions needed to win far-reaching change."
The councilmember added that she strongly supports "Bernie's fight for Medicare for All and for a Green New Deal." The Socialist Alternative Party shared Sawant's announcement and also endorsed Sanders.
— SocialistAlternative (@SocialistAlt) January 8, 2020
The endorsements Wednesday added to the growing collection of high-profile progressive individuals and groups backing Sanders' bid for the Democratic Party's nomination.
Sanders also has won the support of three "Squad" members—Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.)—former Michigan gubernatorial candidate Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, legal scholar Zephyr Teachout, the Democratic Socialists of America, and several leaders of the U.S. Youth Climate Strike group.