Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders told a California Democratic Party convention Sunday that America’s best path forward is to the left.
Speaking to a crowded room of Bernie supporters, the Vermont senator said that in order to advance a “political revolution,” Democrats must not settle for ‘middle ground’ on issues ranging from environmental policy to cutting prescription drug prices.
“We cannot go back to the old ways,” Sanders said. “We have to go forward with a new and progressive agenda.”
His remarks served as a rebuke to former Vice President Joe Biden, the presidential frontrunner in California who opted not to attend the weekend event in San Francisco.
Unlike “those who have chosen for whatever reason not to be in this room,” Sanders said, the party must “give millions of young people and working people ...a reason to believe that politics is relevant to their lives.”
The self-proclaimed democratic socialist and former 2016 candidate is best known for captivating far-left supporters with his promise for a “Medicare for All” system and pledges to increase taxes on the rich. But despite losing the party’s nomination to Hillary Clinton nearly three years ago, Sanders has stuck to his long-time promotion of progressive politics.
“When it comes to health care, there is no middle ground,” Sanders said, “When it comes to abortion, there is no middle ground. When it comes to mass shootings and the fact that 40,000 people were killed last year with guns, no middle ground.”
Sanders also promised to make large corporations like Amazon pay “their fair share of taxes” and to “take on the fossil fuel industry and transform our energy system.”
That message earned roaring applause and a standing ovation from Democrats who gathered in San Francisco for the state party’s three-day convention. That reception was a stark contrast to former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and former U.S. Rep. John Delaney, who outlined more moderate policies and rejected the idea of a single-payer health care system.
The convention is seen as an opportunity for an expansive list of Democratic presidential hopefuls to win the hearts of California voters ahead of the March 2020 primary.