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“Something Big Is Happening”: John Nichols on Bernie Sanders’ Surge and Rising Power of Movements

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We speak with John Nichols, political writer for The Nation, about the presidential candidacy of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Nichols introduced Sanders at a recent event in Madison, Wisconsin, where the senator drew a record crowd of more than 10,000 people. “The key thing here is this 2016 presidential race, at least on the Democratic side, and I would even suggest on the Republican side, is being profoundly influenced by movements that are demanding that income inequality, wage gaps, wage stagnation be addressed,” Nichols says. “Something big is happening, and I think that’s why people are turning out in these huge numbers.”

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Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: And just 30 seconds on a new issue. Also in Wisconsin, history was recently made for the presidential race of 2016. You introduced Vermont independent Senator Bernie Sanders—that’s not what the history was—who’s challenging Hillary Clinton.

JOHN NICHOLS: No, it wasn’t.

AMY GOODMAN: But the fact that over 10,000 people showed up to see him. He is pulling—of any Republican or Democratic candidate, Bernie Sanders, the socialist, is pulling more people in, the largest crowds of this election season.

JOHN NICHOLS: Well, I want to emphasize, I was asked to talk a little bit about movements and talk a little bit about the progressive tradition, not to tell people how to vote. So, in introducing Bernie Sanders, I had a unique setting there. I got to say that this candidacy, to my view, is not about Bernie Sanders. This is about the movements that have developed over the last five or six years, particularly since the meltdown of 2008, in which people have really begun to organize around economic issues and a host of other issues, and bring them to the fore politically. And I think that’s the important thing to emphasize, Amy. Whether somebody supports Bernie Sanders or Martin O’Malley or even Hillary Clinton, the key thing here is, this 2016 presidential race, at least on the Democratic side—and I would even suggest on the Republican side—is being profoundly influenced by movements that are demanding that income inequality, wage gaps, wage stagnation be addressed. They really are, in many ways, an American equivalent of the global movements that are raising austerity issues.

And I would emphasize also that, you know, while Sanders has really brought a lot of these to a head, Martin O’Malley is also beginning to talk about it, and even Hillary Clinton yesterday, in her remarks, embraced a lot of the language and some of the thinking of these movements. So something big is happening. And I think that’s why people are turning out in these huge numbers, because they want to emphasize, talk about it.

AMY GOODMAN: John Nichols, thanks so much for being with us from Madison, political writer for The Nation, has the cover story of the last Nation magazine.

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