They came with posters of their hero, wearing “Join the Revolution” T-shirts and ready with questions. They were young and middle-aged and older (though significantly younger than an audience earlier in the week for political analyst James Carville). They clapped. They cheered. And at Miami Book Fair on Saturday night, they loved the idea of Bernie in 2020.
The Vermont senator and former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders appeared in a packed Chapman Conference Center at Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus. He came out on stage to the predictable chants of “Bernie! Bernie!”
But as he said: “This is not about Bernie — this is about you.”
Sanders, who was introduced by his literary agent Ronald Goldfarb, who said his client “does offer an individual ray of light,” was in town to talk about his new book “Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In,” about his campaign and what comes next.
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But he also had a message for President-elect Donald Trump: He hopes Trump “understands the damage he has done to our country internally and around the world.
“What I say to Mr. Trump is: We are not going backwards. … It is the job of the majority in this country to stand with minorities.”
He also took Trump to task for leading the birther movement.
“Do not mistake for one second what that movement was about. It was a racist attempt to undermine the legitimacy of the first African-American president.”
Sanders, who last week became an official member of the Democratic leadership, had a few things to say about some of his favorite topics: The importance of climate change, campaign reform, the dangers of Wall Street, the minimum wage, poverty, healthcare and the problems with corporate media.
Climate change, for example, is something we can’t compromise on, he said.
“The situation will deteriorate significantly,” he said. “Miami — there will be more rising sea level, more acidification of the ocean, more global conflict over limited natural resources. … I hope Mr. Trump knows it is far more important to listen to the scientific community than it is to listen to the fossil fuel industry.”
Sanders told his eager crowd that he was inspired by the young people of all cultures coming out to support his campaign. He urged the audience to speak out and get involved in politics. And despite everything he carries a hopeful message.
“There are millions of people in this country who love this country passionately and want to see this country become what we know it can become.
“We are going to win this battle not in the halls of Congress … where we’re outnumbered. We’re going to win this battle in grassroots America. That means — and this is not rhetoric this is a fact, something every American has got to learn — democracy is not a spectator sport. Every person in this room is a powerful person if you choose to exercise your power. … and your power is 365 days a year.”
When Book Fair co-chair Mitchell Kaplan asked him if he would run in 2020, Sanders demurred, repeating what his wife Jane said.
“It’s not the right question. We’ve got to struggle tomorrow. Our job is to educate, organize, mobilize. … We’ve got other things to worry about today.”
If You Go
What: Miami Book Fair
When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday
Where: Miami Dade College Wolfson Campuis, 300 NE Second Ave., Miami