AAPIs for Bernie: The Fight Continues

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Bernie Sanders at the Aratani Theatre in Little Tokyo last year. He is the only presidential candidate to come to Little Tokyo since Jesse Jackson in 1984.

By DAVID MONKAWA

Bernie Sanders has suspended his campaign, but his vision and program continue to grow. Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, free college, U.S. citizenship after five years and national rent control are ideas that will endure.

APIs supported Sanders nationwide, in some states like California by more than a 2-to-1 margin.

Bernie brought together a historic coalition of youth, working folks and people of color that demanded much-needed improvements to a system where inequality, white supremacy and class oppression run rampant.

His impact has been a permanent game-changer for the U.S. and the world. Because Americans loved Bernie’s program, the major candidates were compelled to “adopt” Medicare-for-All and refer to the Green New Deal and other reforms that they would not consider five years ago.

Since the Reagan era, we’ve been beaten down fighting mainly defensive battles to stop cuts in health care, “no fossil fuels,” “no evictions,” “no layoffs,” “no shooting black folks,” “no deportations and detentions.” Bernie took us beyond these defensive demands to a bold, new, positive vision because you can never win what you cannot see.

We stood together for Medicare-for-All, a Green New Deal, federal jobs guarantee with strong union rights, mass green public housing with national rent control and five-year residency for citizenship for immigrants. The defense of our social safety net, jobs and housing is a necessity to survive this system, but Bernie’s big solutions for the big problems made the 1% afraid and defensive for the first time since Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition challenged the system.

This gave confidence to young working and oppressed people that we can win and change our country. This vision will guide a new generation who overwhelmingly support Bernie. They learned early in their lives that any serious challenge will be met with the full force of Wall Street, the corporations, and the media and politicians they own, as we saw them orchestrate and fall in line after the Nevada primary.

In California and in L.A. County, Bernie’s big win has drastically redrawn the landscape. Every incumbent in California now knows that large parts of their voter base liked Bernie’s programs. Several outstanding local candidates who support Bernie will be heading to the general election as well. We look forward to electing and growing the crop of new leadership in congress with leaders such as AOC, the “Squad,” Mark Pocan, Ro Khanna and many more.

The movement is much stronger now than in 2016, thanks to Bernie. Going forward in our work with other communities in local coalitions, we will build the movement centered around Bernie’s program and respectfully outreach and seek input from grassroots leaders, clergy, nonprofits and elected officials about the needs of their communities. Most of all we will stand on the quality of our long-term work to unite the many to defeat the few.

Bernie always said, “It’s not about me, it’s about US.” Well, now the “US” will continue forward in every town and city and Bernie will still be at our side to defeat Trump and the Wall Street white supremacists in November, and continue to change the U.S. in favor of the 99%.

The fight continues. Thank you so much, Bernie, for your lifelong work and sacrifice.

Bernie Sanders with grassroots API leaders in Long Beach in August 2019.

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