Left-wing presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., told a crowd in Iowa on Saturday that his agenda, once declared radical by establishment politicians, is now being promoted by Democratic candidates across the country.
“They are ideas that Democratic candidates from school board to president are now campaigning on,” he said, as he listed his policies on everything from health care to climate change.
Sanders was widely seen as a far-left candidate in 2016 when he unsuccessfully challenged the more centrist Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, but since President Trump’s election in 2016, the party has moved increasingly to the left, and many of the 2020 presidential hopefuls have adopted a number of policies that the self-described Democratic socialist was pushing in 2016.
“The ideas, the agenda we were talking about then were considered by establishment politicians and mainstream media to be radical and extreme. Remember that?” he told the crowd in Des Moines.
“So we came here and we said that we need to raise minimum wage to a living wage,” he told the crowd. “But the establishment said,‘Bernie that’s a radical idea, you can’t double the federal minimum wage.'”
“We said guaranteeing health care to all is a right not a privilege,” he said. “They said, ‘Too radical, too radical, not something the American people want.'”
He also cited his policies on investing $1 trillion into rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure and by “aggressively” fighting climate change.
Sanders’ comments tap into the broader sense that the party is lurching to the left on an array of ideas — everything from how to combat climate change to reparations for black Americans. Top 2020 candidates have embraced ideas such as Medicare-for-all and the Green New Deal, ideas that were once relegated to the party’s fringe.
Candidates including Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.J., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., have signed onto Sanders’ “Medicare-for-all” bill. Both Sanders and Harris have stated that their plans would end most private health care plans.
Sanders made similar comments on Thursday in Council Bluffs, Iowa, reminding a crowd there that he was the original champion of many of the ideas that are now being seen in most 2020 Democratic candidates’ platforms.
“Shock of all shocks, those very same ideas are now supported by candidates — Democratic candidates — for president,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.