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A Look At Where Bernie Sanders' Movement Goes From Here


Bernie Sanders lost the Democratic presidential nomination to Hillary Clinton, but he won more than 12 million votes in the primaries and was respectfully and elaborately saluted by Hillary Clinton, whom he has endorsed. Where does the political movement that Bernie Sanders spearheaded go from here? We're joined now by Jonathan Tasini in New York. He was a surrogate for Bernie Sanders. He traveled with the campaign. He's also author of "The Essential Bernie Sanders And His Vision For America." He joins us by Skype. Thanks so much for being with us.

JONATHAN TASINI: It's a pleasure to be with you, Scott.

SIMON: Let me put you on the spot first. Like Senator Sanders, are you going to vote for Hillary Clinton?

TASINI: I follow my candidate. We are, I think, a united front, or certainly most people feel very strongly that Donald Trump is a threat to the nation. He must be defeated.

SIMON: Has she moved your way on a few issues? What's your change of heart?

TASINI: Well, there's no question that frankly Hillary Clinton took positions that she never had before because of this political movement. If you look at her opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which she had previously repeatedly called the gold standard, she now says she's against it. She supports now a hike in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Prior to that, she did not support that. Other issues that you could see, at least in the Democratic Party platform, they're there entirely because of the Sanders movement.

Now, I think one of the big questions for many Sanders supporters is, are her words and what's written in paper going to actually come to pass when she is elected president? That's, I think, the greatest worry for many Sanders supporters. And frankly, that's the sale she has to make. That's not something Bernie Sanders can deliver. She has to make that sale.

SIMON: It sounds like you do not altogether trust Hillary Clinton.

TASINI: You can hope and wish and pray that those things are legitimate conversions and that she now is a different candidate, a person with a different philosophy. That's something that, you know, sometimes, yes, it's hard to believe. But again, I want to say that even - and Bernie said this many, many times - in several of the actual public debates, she said on her worst day, Hillary Clinton's a thousand times better than Donald Trump. And Donald Trump, in my view, is a threat to the nation.

SIMON: What's your reaction to the leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee?

TASINI: You know, for me, it was a little bit of a kerfuffle, something that really only confirmed what we knew months ago. We were telling, and frankly the media didn't take it seriously, during the time when we tried to point out that Debbie Wasserman Schultz was biased. She scheduled debates at times that didn't draw huge audiences, I believe, and many believe, because she didn't want Bernie to have a larger exposure to the voters. I joke that if she could find a 3 a.m. slot in the Home Shopping Network, she would grab that. So those emails only confirm what we knew.

SIMON: Is the Bernie Sanders campaign, as it exists today, organized or, all Whole Foods jokes aside, organic?

TASINI: (Laughter) That is a good joke, Scott. Look, I approach this convention with this view, that the convention is kind of hoopla but a very small part of this long road in a movement. And there's no question that this is a movement. I could tell you, as I traveled around the country, I met hundreds if not thousands of people who want to change the country. And you've got, now, 1,900 Bernie delegates who are now going back to their communities in 50 states. I know people want to run for public office, for mayor, for city council. These are people who now want to change the country. Now, getting from here to there, it's a lot of hard work. And I think that the political revolution has just started.

SIMON: Are you Democrats though or something else?

TASINI: Well, I would say that the people, largely, who I met were Democrats. But really it's what - people want to change the country. They think that the Democratic Party is the vehicle. But let's face it, if the Democratic Party does not respond and Hillary Clinton does then not go forth and implement the things she supports now if she's elected president, the Democratic Party will lose a lot of people. And I do think that we may be looking at a period in the next few years where the two-party system will fracture.

SIMON: Jonathan Tasini was a Bernie Sanders surrogate and author of "The Essential Bernie Sanders And His Vision For America." Thanks so much for joining us.

TASINI: Pleasure to be here. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.