Calling the 2020 election the most important in modern U.S. history — one in which the survival of democracy, the economy, and the planet hang in the balance — Sen. Bernie Sanders used his primetime address at the virtual Democratic National Convention Monday night to warn of the existential dangers of handing President Donald Trump a second term and urge the nation to unite to ensure he is defeated in November.
“I and my family, and many of yours, know the insidious way authoritarianism destroys democracy, decency, and humanity,” said Sanders. “As long as I am here, I will work with progressives, with moderates, and yes, with conservatives to preserve this nation from a threat that so many of our heroes fought and died to defeat.”
“We must come together, defeat Donald Trump, and elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as our next president and vice president,” the senator from Vermont added.
Sanders’ eight-minute speech convention speech came just over four months after he ended his second bid for the presidency with a vow to continue fighting for the vision of transformative progressive change that defined his 2016 and 2020 campaigns.
The senator echoed that message Monday, thanking his supporters for helping to move the U.S. “in a bold new direction” by making mainstream ideas that were previously deemed “radical,” from Medicare for All to tuition-free public college.
“Our campaign ended several months ago, but our movement continues and is getting stronger every day,” said Sanders. “But let us be clear: if Donald Trump is reelected, all the progress we have made will be in jeopardy. At its most basic, this election is about preserving our democracy.”
.@BernieSanders did a great job showing that you can simultaneously articulate both a sharp & powerful left vision for justice and the need for a popular front against fascism.
— Brad Lander (@bradlander) August 18, 2020
Under Trump’s administration, the “unthinkable has become normal,” said Sanders, pointing to the president’s open assault on voting rights and the U.S. Postal Service, deployment of federal agents against peaceful protesters, and threats to refuse to leave office should he lose in November.
Sanders also highlighted Trump’s disastrous response to both the coronavirus pandemic — which has killed more than 170,000 people in the U.S. — and the resulting economic collapse that has left tens of millions jobless, hungry, and on the brink of complete financial ruin.
While noting his significant disagreement with Biden on the key issue of Medicare for All, Sanders voiced confidence that if elected in November, the former vice president will move forward with a policy agenda to make the U.S. “more equitable, more compassionate, and more inclusive.”
“I know that Joe Biden will begin that fight on day one,” said Sanders, citing Biden’s support for increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, strengthening union rights, establishing 12 weeks of paid family leave and universal pre-K, expanding health insurance via a public option, reducing the cost of prescription drugs, lowering the Medicare eligibility age, and transitioning the U.S. to 100% clean electricity by 2035.
“My friends, I say to you, to everyone who supported other candidates in this primary, and to those who may have voted for Donald Trump in the last election: the future of our democracy is at stake,” said Sanders. “The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake.”
“My friends,” Sanders concluded, “the price of failure is just too great to imagine.”