GLENDALE, Calif.—Bernie Sanders celebrated his new book “Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In” at something of a rally plus comedy show on Tuesday, Nov. 29, at the Alex Theatre with comedian Sarah Silverman.
Attendees shouted, “Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!” as the Vermont senator walked on stage at the Southern California event organized by Vroman’s Bookstore.
“I think we’re going to have some fun this evening. I think we need some fun, right?” he said to rousing cheers.
Sanders’s rise as a viable Democratic candidate during the presidential campaign was unexpectedly fast, but he nevertheless lost the nomination of the Democratic Party to Hillary Clinton during the primaries. Sanders’s new book chronicles his campaign and his political goals.
At the Tuesday event, Sanders began with a speech to encourage his fans to continue to participate in the political process far beyond the election.
“Please do not believe that members of Congress can do this alone. We need a mass movement of millions of people who are engaged,” he said.
Sanders said he believes that the majority of Americans agree with much of his “progressive” agenda, including raising the minimum wage to a living wage, putting millions to work rebuilding the country’s crumbling infrastructure, demanding that wealthy people pay their fair share of taxes, making public colleges and universities tuition free, and combating climate change.
As a newly appointed member of the Democratic Party’s leadership team, Sanders said he would be working hard to bring new life to the Party.
“I assure you, I will do outreach,” he said. “What we are going to try to do is completely restructure and reform the Democratic Party.”
Silverman then joined Sanders for somewhat of a question and answer session, interspersed with jokes that left the audience roaring with laughter.
“I’ve never interviewed someone before,” said Silverman.
“Now you tell me!” said Sanders.
The comedian asked if the Democratic Party had lost sight of the goal of representing the American working class in recent years.
“Do you think that is partly why we got our smug smiles wiped off our faces on election day?” she said.
Sanders agreed, saying the Democratic Party spends a very large amount of time fundraising with wealthy donors.
“In the midst of all of that, there is never a discussion, ‘Who has gone out to a low-income area in New York City and talked to the working class people?'” he said.
President-elect Donald Trump however, according to Sanders, was able to tap into the struggles of rural and working Americans during the campaign.
“There are a lot of people hurting in this country, and they’re hurting quite badly,” said Sanders.
A contributing factor is globalization and the continued loss of job security from factories moving abroad and the import of cheap products, he said, but that’s not all.
Many Americans are also missing the experience of a close community, where people know their neighbors and take care of each other.
“It’s not only the economics and the lack of income. There is a lack of sense of purpose. We’re buying everything from China and everyplace else. Why aren’t we manufacturing it down the street?”
In reaction to a question from the audience about the ongoing protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, Sanders was solemn.
“The Native American people have been lied to, cheated from day one. No question about it,” he said. “One of the things I certainly hoped to do if I was president, was to radically change the relationship with the federal government and the Native Americans.”
“Man, I wish you were president,” said Silverman.
During his campaign, Sanders said he became inspired by his supporters, who were often young voters who loved their country, but who believed the United States had the potential to become better.
“I left the campaign with a sense of optimism, with more optimism in a sense than when I began,” said the senator.
But he reiterated that he needed help.
“I don’t have all the answers,” he said. “Nobody I know does.”
“If we stand together, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.”