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Sanders: “It Is Absolutely Imperative” for Progressives to Not Back Down

“The overall struggle that we are engaged in is not complicated. It is to struggle for justice in the deepest sense.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders meets with UNITE union members protest outside the Senate office buildings in support of Senate cafeteria workers employed by Restaurant Associates on Capitol Hill on July 20, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

In the wake of a tumultuous few months that have seen the revocation of federal abortion rights and the passage of a major climate and fossil fuel bill, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) is encouraging progressives to keep fighting, despite the enormous and seemingly insurmountable challenges facing the country.

In an interview with Teen Vogue published on Thursday, Sanders told young progressives that political transformation and social justice only come after long periods of struggle in which ordinary people put in the work to fight for revolutionary change.

The country is creeping toward corporate oligarchy, he said, citing major corruption in the political system and a dominant corporate media structure that “often deflects attention away from the real issues facing working people.” But these threats only make it more important for people to speak out and resist.

“Real, underline, politics is not instant gratification,” Sanders said. “Anybody who knows anything about history, going way back from the struggle of the abolitionists, struggle to end slavery, struggle for women’s rights, the struggle for workers’ rights, these are not easy struggles and they don’t happen overnight.”

In order to fight unprecedented wealth accumulation, violent right-wing bigotry, a worsening climate crisis, and more, progressives need tenacity and perseverance to succeed, the senator said.

“It is absolutely imperative that people continue to be engaged and stand up for economic justice, social justice, racial justice, environmental justice. You can’t back down. Now is not the time to give up, now is more than ever the time to be involved,” said Sanders. “The overall struggle that we are engaged in is not complicated. It is to struggle for justice in the deepest sense of the word.”

The Vermont senator had a similar message for progressives shortly after far right Supreme Court justices issued their decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, saying in a livestream that the problems the country is facing are too urgent and dangerous for progressives to wallow in despair.

Sanders also pointed out in the interview that progressives are notching wins across the country, despite corporate media outlets pushing the opposite narrative. Progressives aren’t just winning electorally, with triumphs for candidates like Jamie McLeod-Skinner in Oregon and Summer Lee in Pennsylvania; they’re also waging an extraordinarily successful labor movement, paving the way for a new generation of workers to have a voice in the workplace.

“At a time when working families are falling further and further behind, I think more and more workers see unions and the opportunity to engage in collective bargaining as a means by which they can earn decent wages and decent benefits,” he said.

Through efforts like the union campaigns at Starbucks and Amazon, workers are taking on some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in the world, including CEOs Howard Schultz and Jeff Bezos. “We are seeing now maybe an unprecedented wave of union organizing,” Sanders said, “which, to me, is very, very important, because we’re not going to rebuild the middle class in this country unless we have a strong union movement.”

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