A video released Thursday by progressive advocacy organization RootsAction uses decades of archival footage to show that the deadly coronavirus pandemic has—in just a matter of weeks—vindicated Sen. Bernie Sanders' career-long support for Medicare for All and sweeping economic change.
"They're basic problems in our political and economic system that Bernie Sanders has been correctly diagnosing his entire career."
—Norman Solomon, RootsAction
The two-minute clip features footage dating back to 1987 of Sanders, today a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, warning about the "crisis of affordable healthcare" and urging the U.S. government take steps to "protect the American people and people throughout the world" from a possible global outbreak on the scale of the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic.
"Voters are watching in real time as Bernie Sanders' platform—Medicare for All, a federal housing guarantee, paid leave for everyone, and much else—is looking more and more like a common-sense solution to huge problems," Jeff Cohen, co-founder of RootsAction.org, said in a statement.
"With 27 states and territories left to cast their votes [in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary]," said Cohen, "we believe that it's important to deliver this message as widely as possible."
Watch the full video:
The video comes as the Democratic presidential primary has been thrown into complete disarray by the coronavirus crisis, which has forced 15 states to postpone their primary contests. Wisconsin, which is scheduled to hold its primary next Tuesday, is facing calls to delay the election, including from Sanders.
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Meanwhile, the nationwide economic fallout caused by the coronavirus outbreak continues to intensify. On Thursday, as Common Dreams reported, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that a record-shattering 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the total number of jobless claims from the month of March to more than 10 million.
The Economic Policy Institute estimated Thursday that "3.5 million workers likely lost their employer-provided health insurance in the past two weeks," bolstering Medicare for All advocates' argument that tying healthcare to employment is fundamentally problematic.
"Sanders has consistently advocated for the kinds of policies, such as Medicare for All and more substantial rights for working people, that would have left the U.S. better prepared to confront the coronavirus pandemic."
"The coronavirus is exposing horrible gaps in our system," Norman Solomon, co-founder and national coordinator of RootsAction.org and Common Dreams contributor, said in a statement. "But it's important to note that they are not new flaws that appeared overnight. Americans have long suffered from the outrageous costs of healthcare, and most workers know what it's like to live paycheck to paycheck."
"These are longstanding realities that have gone unaddressed by the political establishment and left us more vulnerable to this pandemic," said Solomon. "They're basic problems in our political and economic system that Bernie Sanders has been correctly diagnosing his entire career."
In a Common Dreams essay on Thursday, Kenny Stancil echoed that argument, noting that "even as Bernie's path to the Democratic nomination is becoming more difficult, his bold ideas are increasingly popular and more necessary than ever to minimize death and misery in the wake of the diffusion of COVID-19."
"Unlike his political opponents who have fought for the types of austerity measures that make the U.S. more vulnerable to disasters," Stancil wrote, "Sanders has consistently advocated for the kinds of policies, such as Medicare for All and more substantial rights for working people, that would have left the U.S. better prepared to confront the coronavirus pandemic."
Even if Sanders does not ultimately win the Democratic primary, he added, "it is essential... that [Sanders'] candidacy continues through the convention and that the movement for Medicare for All and a Green New Deal persists."