Sen. Bernie Sanders believes all of the challenges facing the country are significant. Election finance reform. Ending what he calls a “rigged” economy. Providing affordable healthcare and education.
But the biggest, most dangerous threat takes aim directly at South Florida, and, he says, President-elect Donald Trump isn’t even concerned about it.
There’s an incredible energy among the young people in this country. This is the least discriminatory generation in the history of this country.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, author of ‘Our Revolution’
“All of them are important in terms of the future of the United States,” says Sanders, who’s in Miami Saturday to talk about his new book at Miami Book Fair, “but above them all is climate change. We have a president-elect who doesn’t believe in climate change. That’s frightening for this country — and the world. ... If we don’t move boldly to transform our energy system, the planet is in deep danger.”
Also dangerous, he says, is “the bigotry that he espoused during the campaign. It’s tearing the fabric of this country apart.”
In “Our Revolution” (Thomas Dunne Books, $27), the former Democratic presidential candidate looks back on what began as something of a fringe campaign and ended up as a significant political movement. The first half of the book follows the campaign; in the second and more substantial half, Sanders lays out a step-by-step plan to confront America’s problems. As you might expect from the progressive politician, the book looks more toward the future than back at the past.
“This campaign was never just about electing a president of the United States — as enormously important as that was,” Sanders writes. “This campaign was about transforming America. It was about the understanding that real change never takes place from the top on down. It always takes place from the bottom on up. It takes place when ordinary people, by the millions, are prepared to stand up and fight for justice.”
The book is already an Amazon bestseller.
“It’s a great book!” the Vermont senator jokes. “I give it eight stars.”
The passions Sanders stirred with his populist message will be on full display at the fair Saturday, and if you don’t already have a ticket, prepare to watch the event on screens at The Porch at Miami Dade College (C-SPAN will also broadcast the event live).There will be a standby line, but chances are it will be long, so get there early and bring your patience.
Miami attorney Kira Willig, a Miami Book Fair board member and the only female Sanders delegate from Miami’s Congressional District 24 at the Democratic National Convention, says the timing of Sanders’ appearance is perfect.
“As he says, elections come and go, but movements move on,” she says. “I think my original feeling about the book fair was ‘What terrible timing, all these political people coming in the aftermath of this tragedy,’ but I think it’s actually been cathartic because so many people are saying ‘What should we do?’ ... I’ve had so many people come to me personally just because of my role in this election asking, ‘What is it we can do?’ He’s bringing so many issues to the forefront, like being involved in your local party. It’s so timely.”
Unlike political analyst James Carville, who appeared at the fair earlier in the week, Sanders can still sound a positive note. He marvels over the millions who responded to the messages of his campaign (he received more than 13 million votes in primaries and caucuses throughout the country and won 22 states).
“What to me was extraordinary was the response our message got. That kind of energy was surprising,” he says. “There’s an incredible energy among the young people in this country. This is the least discriminatory generation in the history of this country. They won’t tolerate racism or sexism or homophobia or immigrant bashing. They’re concerned about climate change. They don’t want to leave school in debt. If we have a progressive program that thinks big and not small, we can tap into that.”
But will the party, fractured by a generational split, continue to hold the attention of younger voters? Sanders isn’t so sure.
“There’s a huge split between young people and older people in the party,” Sanders says. “The older people have got to recognize this: The model of the Democratic Party has failed. We don’t have the House, the Senate, the White House; we don’t have three-fourths of the governors. You know what? We failed.”
If You Go
What: Bernie Sanders at Miami Book Fair
When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Chapman Conference Center, Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus, 300 NE Second Ave., Miami
Tickets: Free tickets are gone, but there will be a standby line; the fair will broadcast the event on screens at The Porch, and it will also be broadcast live on C-SPAN. Entry free with street fair tickets; $8 for adult, $5 for 13-18 and over 62; 12 and under free