During a Fox News town hall Monday night in Dearborn, Michigan on the eve of the state’s crucial Democratic presidential primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders made the case that—far from being “radical” or “extreme”—progressive ideas like raising the minimum wage, guaranteeing healthcare to all as a right, and boldly fighting the climate crisis have broad appeal across the U.S. electorate.
“I reject the idea, I really do—it’s one of the things that bothers me, and I hear it every day, I hear it in the media, hear it from my opponents—[that] ‘Bernie is an extremist, Bernie is too radical,'” Sanders said. “OK, let’s deal with it. Is raising a starvation minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, which has not been raised in 10 years, to $15 an hour, a living wage, a radical idea?”
The question was met with a resounding ‘No!’ from the audience, which responded similarly when Sanders asked the same question of tuition-free public colleges and universities, Medicare for All, and the Green New Deal.
“I live 50 miles away from the Canadian border, this is not a communist society up there in Montreal—they guarantee healthcare to all, they spend 50% of what we spend,” said Sanders. “Is passing a Medicare for All, single-payer system a radical idea?”
Sanders went on to address President Donald Trump directly—”Donald, you’re probably watching, how are you?”—and slam the president for failing to “understand or respect science” as the climate crisis wreaks havoc in the United States and across the globe.
“Trump thinks that climate change is a hoax,” Sanders said. “I believe that climate change is an existential threat to this planet. I will listen to the scientists who tell us that we have got to move aggressively to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy. And through a Green New Deal, by the way, we can create up to 20 million good-paying jobs. I just don’t think any of those ideas are radical.”
Even a Fox News audience agrees that our progressive ideas are not radical. These are the ideas we need to bring to the general election to defeat Trump. pic.twitter.com/KaFvHjYD8z
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 9, 2020
Progressives and Sanders supporters applauded the Vermont senator’s performance on a hostile network as a demonstration of his unique ability to appeal to voters of all party affiliations without watering down his message.
“There is just no one else in America—no one—who can talk across party lines about the way our government can address the real needs of the people,” tweeted Matt Karp, a Princeton historian and outspoken Sanders supporter. “Imagine what good he could do in a general election.”
The youth-led Sunrise Movement pointed out that Republicans and Independents can vote in Michigan’s Democratic presidential primary, making Sanders’ cross-partisan appeal a potentially significant factor in Tuesday’s contest. As Common Dreams reported Monday, Sanders has won among Independent voters in 13 out of 16 primary races where exit polls have been conducted.
“Only Bernie understands it’s not about left or right,” the group tweeted, “it’s about the top 1% and the bottom 99%.”
Watch the full Fox News town hall: