Politics

Why Bernie Sanders Just Picked up a Historic Endorsement

On Thursday, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders became the second candidate to officially launch a 2016 bid for the Democratic nomination for president. Sanders, who is an Independent in the Senate who caucuses with Democrats, is the first to directly challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Sanders formally announced his candidacy with an email to supporters and the media, and he later held a press conference discussing his agenda for the country:

To learn about Sanders' stance on issues important to young people, check out this explainer.

Although he's not expected to win the nomination, Sen. Sanders is already drumming up support. Today, a group started by Occupy Wall Street founders made their first ever endorsement of a presidential candidate by lending their support to Sen. Sanders. They also announced the website PeopleForBernie.com and a partnership with Ready4Bernie.com.

Though Occupy Wall Street has political aspirations -- such as campaign finance reform and solving the student loan debt crisis -- the group has so far been wary of directly engaging in the electoral process. "Unlike their Tea Party counterparts, activists from Occupy Wall Street largely wrote off electoral politics as a means for effecting change, rejecting partisan politics as hopelessly corrupt," the New Republic explained.

The endorsement, then, not only shows there is some grassroots support for Sanders, which could potentially force Hillary Clinton further left, but it is also marks a shift in Occupy to a more organized progressive movement.

"We are activists and organizers trying to build a broad, effective movement for democratic change," People For Bernie reads. "We come from different backgrounds, and were inspired by different issues and fights for peace, rights and the planet. Our goal is a government that carries out the will of the people, and not serve to increase the profits of the 1 percent at the expense of the rest of us."

"To that end we support Bernie Sanders in his bid to become the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party," it continues. "We stand firmly behind Senator Sanders as the strongest progressive challenger to Hillary Clinton in the race right now - the bold alternative."

This is not the first time that Sanders and the Occupy Wall Street movement have supported each other. In October of 2011, Sanders, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and the Congressional Black Caucus voiced support for Occupy.

“We have the crooks on Wall Street, and I use that word advisedly—don’t misquote me, the word is ‘crooks’—whose greed, whose recklessness, whose illegal behavior caused this terrible recession with so much suffering," Sanders said back in 2011. "We believe in this country; we love this country; and we will be damned if we’re going to see a handful of robber barons control the future of this country."

In that vein, the Occupy's campaign movement claims it won't be funded by corporate donations.

"We are signing as individuals hoping to kickstart a small ‘d’ democratic movement," their website states. "People For Bernie won’t be a corporate-style, staff-driven, controlled-message, top-down enterprise."

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