Footage of a private meeting with local leaders before Bernie Sanders’ rally at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., on Tuesday provides insight into how he might work with grass-roots activists to pursue a national populist agenda.

Sanders spoke directly with Dutchess County Democratic legislators Francena Amparo and Joel Tyner, labor leaders and activists about issues of immigration, economic fairness and climate change. Cheers from the crowd nearby erupted intermittently.

“I just want to thank you for your strong opposition to … fossil fuel infrastructure,” one woman said. “We are fighting the first crude oil pipeline project in New York State in over 100 years, and we need you.”

“You’ve got me,” Sanders replied. “What’s the name of the pipeline?”

“Pilgrim Pipeline,” the woman responded. “From Albany, N.Y., to Linden, N.J.”

“First of all, let me congratulate you all for putting enough pressure on the governor to ban fracking,” Sanders continued. “That is no small thing. … [Gov. Cuomo] was not particularly sympathetic to the idea in the beginning, was he?”

The group laughed. “It was a lot of work, a lot of people,” one person said.

Sanders added: “What politics is about, and this is the point that I’ll make today—and I don’t fault Cuomo for doing this—he ended up responding to people. But he would not have responded unless people organized, right? That’s all, and politicians do that. But they won’t do the right thing—very few politicians are gonna show leadership capabilities and come forward and say, ‘You know what? Fracking’s a stupid idea.’ It needs millions of people to make that clear and force politicians to do the right thing.”

One man thanked Sanders for his support of the Communications Workers of America, which would go on strike against Verizon the following day. (Sanders joined the workers in Manhattan on Wednesday. See video below.) Another praised Sanders for supporting new Department of Labor rules on “the fiduciary responsibility of money managers.”

“I don’t think it would have been in effect today if not for candidate Bernie Sanders,” the man said. “I think that for 40 years you’ve been talking about this stuff, and we’re very very grateful to have you there. It would not have happened if it had been only candidate Clinton or candidate all-the-rest-of-them. So we want to thank you deeply.”

“Thank you very much,” Sanders replied. He then sketched a path forward. “Well, you know what happens. What we have been able to do, which does not make the establishment very happy, but the ideas that many of us share are now getting into the public. We’ve got—what do we have out there, 4,000 people? We’ve got a lot of people. And the establishment can do what it wants to, but when you’re running a campaign like we are, they cannot ignore what we are saying. All right? It’s not an accident; we’ve been advocating for a $15 minimum wage for a long time. And when pressure builds on that, governors end up doing the right thing.”

“Fracking and all of these things—this is what happens when people become organized, stand up and fight back. So I think just getting issues out there which ordinary people are finally getting the opportunity to hear, and people say, ‘Yeah, that’s right,’ it creates a very significant change in the political dynamic of our country.”

Below, watch Sanders in Poughkeepsie and in Manhattan.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.


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