Sanders Doubles Down: Dems Need More Than Racial And Gender Diversity Alone

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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) posted a statement on Tuesday doubling down on comments he made urging Democrats to support diverse candidates for office who would also focus on the working class and stand up to corporate power.

In a Medium post titled “How Democrats Move Forward,” Sanders wrote that, given the recent election results, Democrats “need to seriously rethink who we are and how we best go forward.” He emphasized that the Democratic Party is the “party of diversity,” and that it should continue to involve people of diverse racial and gender backgrounds in the political process.

“But,” he wrote, “to think of diversity purely in racial and gender terms is not sufficient.”

“Yes, we need more candidates of diversity, but we also need candidates—no matter what race or gender—to be fighters for the working class and stand up to the corporate powers who have so much power over our economic lives,” the post read in part. “We need all of our candidates to have the courage to stand up to the Koch Brothers, Wall Street, drug companies, insurance companies, oil companies, and fight for working families — not just the top one percent.”

The statement came after Sanders made similar remarks over the weekend about how he believes Democrats should shift their focus beyond “identity politics” after Donald Trump’s electoral victory.

During a Q&A session after a speech in Boston on Sunday, Sanders said that while the Democratic Party needed to keep working to elect more racially and gender diverse candidates, “one of the struggles that you’re going to be seeing in the Democratic Party is whether we go beyond identity politics.”

“It’s not good enough to say, ‘Hey, I’m a Latina, vote for me.’ That is not good enough. I have to know whether that Latina is going to stand up with the working class of this country, and is going to take on big money interests,” Sanders said, responding to a someone who asked about her aspiration to be the second Latina U.S. senator.

“I think it’s a step forward in America if you have an African-American CEO of some major corporation,” Sanders said later in his answer. “But you know what, if that guy is going to be shipping jobs out of this country, and exploiting his workers, it doesn’t mean a whole hell of a lot whether he’s black or white or Latino.”

Those remarks spawned varying interpretations, from the argument that Sanders meant to “layer a big dose of economic populism on top of these social-justice concerns” to the argument that “Sanders himself understands his main intraparty ideological opponents in these terms.”