An Open Letter to Sen. Bernie Sanders
February 19, 2016
Dear Senator Sanders,
In an interview with NBC’s Kasie Hunt on Feb. 11, you said that President Obama has failed to close the “presidential leadership” gap. And yesterday, you unloaded on President Clinton. That makes two Democratic presidents you are unhappy with, and for the life of me I cannot understand your reasons why.
Is it the 23 million jobs Clinton created, or the largest peacetime expansion of the economy, that you are unhappy with?
Is it the fact that incomes rose for every group — African American, White and Hispanic alike — that you disagree with?
Or is it the tax breaks for families in need and the tax credits that spurred economic growth?
I understand that no one is perfect, and I know that you believe our progress is not finished. You wouldn’t be running if you didn’t think so. But no one is saying that our progress is “good enough.” Even President Obama himself knows we have more work to do.
But I think 13.5 million jobs created, 17 million Americans insured since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, nationwide marriage equality and a landmark international climate change agreement are enormous accomplishments that we should all appreciate thanks to President Obama’s leadership.
In January, when President Clinton joined Hillary on the campaign trail, I responded to Republican attempts to turn his legacy into a liability. So, while I did not think I’d have to defend one of the most successful Democratic presidents in history during a Democratic primary, I am not surprised that someone who formally identified as a Democrat until just three months ago would recycle Republican talking points against Bill and Hillary Clinton.
But here’s the thing, Senator: We’re still fighting for progress. We’re still in the trenches, working every day to make life better for those left out and left behind.
I will not apologize for the progress that Democrats have molded, the difference we’ve made. But you should apologize to the change makers, those hard-working advocates, those Democrats who have fought for progressive values — only to have that progress denigrated and discounted by you. They deserve better from someone who wants to be the nominee of their party.