Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said he’s not thrilled by liberal protesters disrupting conservative activities or being rude. He would much rather see progressives voice their outrage through the ballot box.
The former presidential candidate told Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he strongly supports mobilizing the American people to stand up for economic, social, racial and environmental justice but that there are more and less effective ways to go about this.
“I am not a great fan of being rude or disrupting activities,” Sanders said. “But this is what I will say. This entire … election campaign is going to come down to two words, and that is voter turnout.”
Sanders had a simple message: Anyone who is sick of seeing the “very rich getting richer” while “the middle class continues to struggle” needs to vote and encourage like-minded friends and families to do the same.
“Four years ago, when the Republicans did really, really well, we had the lowest voter turnout since World War II. And that’s got to change,” Sanders said. “So, my hope is that people stand up, fight back and get involved in this campaign.”
This is not the first time Sanders has urged civility. He pleaded with his delegate whips not to protest during the Democratic National Convention in July 2016 after losing the Democratic primary race to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Nevertheless, Sanders did not wade into the public debate over civility voluntarily this time. Tapper had asked the self-identified democratic socialist for his take on the current disagreement among progressives over strategy.
Former First Lady Michele Obama famously said “when they go low, we go high” at a speech during the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Some prominent Democrats think a different approach is needed when dealing with the Trump administration and the current Republican-controlled Congress.
Clinton told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday that “you cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about.”
“That’s why I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and/or the Senate, that’s when civility can start again,” Clinton continued. “But until then, the only thing Republicans seem to recognize is strength.”
While campaigning in Georgia last weekend, former Attorney General Eric Holder appeared equally discouraged by appeals to civility in the current political climate.
“Michelle says, ‘When they go low, we go high.’ No, no. When they go low, we kick ’em,” Holder told his audience to applause. “That’s what this new Democratic Party is about. We’re proud as hell to be Democrats. We’re willing to fight for the ideals of the Democratic Party,” Holder said.
When asked about Holder’s comments, Obama stood by her popular motto on “The Today Show” Thursday.
“Fear is not a proper motivator. Hope wins out, and if you think about how you want your kids to be raised, how you want them to think about life and their opportunities, do you want them afraid of their neighbors? Do you want them angry? Do you want them vengeful?”
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