Back in October 2015, when Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton were still battling it out for the Democratic primary, Saturday Night Live took a jab at the Vermont senator during a mock presidential debate.
“How are you?” a faux Anderson Cooper asked comedian Larry David, playing Sanders.
“I’m good,” David replied, nonplussed. “I’m hungry, but I’m good. Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to dial it right up to a ten. We’re doomed!”
It didn’t take long for (the real) Sanders to dial it up to a ten last night, as he spoke with the Reverend William J. Barber at the Duke University Chapel about domestic policy, militarism, and economic inequality. The event, which was originally supposed to take place in January, brought Sanders in conversation with Barber, the former head of the North Carolina NAACP and leader of the Moral Monday movement, as they both discussed their vision for a “moral economy.”
As Sanders described it: “A moral economy is one that says all our people should be able to live with dignity and security. We are the wealthiest country in the history of the world. There is no excuse to have forty million Americans living in poverty and no excuse for thirty million Americans having no health insurance.
“Nobody has ever come up to me and said, ‘Bernie, I think a major priority is to throw thirty million people off the health insurance they have,’” he added.
Sanders was vehemently opposed to the Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act—which, despite a fair amount of bluster from President Trump, never made it through Congress—and the $1.5 trillion Republican tax bill, which overturned the ACA’s key individual mandate and cut the corporate tax rate, among other things. When the tax overhaul finally cleared Congress, Sanders called the bill a victory for the Koch brothers and other wealthy Republican campaign contributors “who will see huge tax breaks for themselves while driving up the deficit by almost $1.5 trillion.”
Barber, who is working to revive Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People Campaign of 1967–68, discussed labor rights, the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, militarization, and voter suppression laws. He also gave a shoutout to Thomas Farr, the controversial judicial nominee for the Eastern District Court of North Carolina who defended the legislature’s unconstitutional racial gerrymander and served as the legal counsel on Helms’s 1984 and 1990 Senate campaigns, both of which sought to suppress the African-American vote through intimidating postcard mailing campaigns.
Both Sanders and Barber chided the media for its wall-to-wall coverage of Donald Trump’s multiple headaches: Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels, the Russia investigation.
“I don’t know what Russia did, but I do know what racist voter suppression did!” Barber exclaimed.
A new analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law found that lawmakers continue to introduce legislation that would restrict access to the polls. As of this month, the report found, at least twenty-four states have introduced or carried over at least seventy bills restricting voting access.
Barber called for mass voter mobilization for the 2018 midterm elections and discussed strategies for increasing voter turnout,
“You gotta go to where the people are, hear their pain, and bring them into the political process,” he said.