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Democratic and Native American Leaders Give Support To Bernie Sanders

On the heels of Bernie Sanders’ biggest loss yet, a ray of light shines. Despite Hillary Clinton’s seemingly insurmountable advantage with both delegates and endorsements, Sanders is growing his own list of supporters. And that list is increasingly made up of American leaders who believe that the United States is in dire need of a political house-cleaning.

The most recent endorsements come from two well-respected and high-ranking officials from the Democratic party. Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich finally came out in full support of Sanders this week after revealing bit by bit his support for the Vermont senator’s policies. And on Sunday, Democratic National Committee vice-chair and Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard resigned her post and threw her support behind Sanders.

Both individuals are breaking ranks with the Democratic establishment, knowing that Sanders faces a tough race leading into and beyond Super Tuesday.

In a video posted to YouTube Sunday, Gabbard explained her decision.

“As vice-chair of the DNC, I’m required to stay neutral in Democratic primaries, but I cannot remain neutral any longer. The stakes are just too high. That’s why today I’m endorsing senator Bernie Sanders to be our next president and commander-in-chief of the United States. We need a commander-in-chief who has the foresight, who exercises good judgment, and who understands the need for a robust foreign policy which defends the safety and security of the American people and who will not waste precious lives and money on interventionist wars of regime change.”

Gabbard, who has been in politics since the age of 21, is an Iraq combat veteran and is still a member of the military, serving in the Hawaii Army National Guard as a military police officer. Her support could help sway those who are still on the fence about Sanders, and having a current member of the military’s seal of approval could also help him win swaths of the military vote.

Reich, who has dropped hints nearly every day in support of Sanders’ policies, finally revealed his full endorsement via his Facebook page.

“This extraordinary concentration of income, wealth, and political power at the very top imperils all else – our economy, our democracy, the revival of the American middle class, the prospects for the poor and for people of color, the necessity of slowing and reversing climate change, and a sensible foreign policy not influenced by the ‘military-industrial complex,’ as President Dwight Eisenhower once called it. It is the fundamental prerequisite: We have little hope of achieving positive change on any front unless the American people are once again in control.”

Reich did pledge to support Clinton in the event that she gets the nomination, while still acknowledging that Bernie Sanders is the vessel of change this country desperately needs.

Most people who support Bernie Sanders are aware of his growing support in the Black community, but many still don’t know that he recently gained an endorsement from a major Native American activist. Winona LaDuke, an indigenous activist, environmentalist, and economist posted a video about why she decided to support Sanders.

“Our lands — as indigenous lands — are the place where most of the oil and gas, and a good portion of the uranium and coal comes from. The easiest answer for the future generations is to keep it in the ground. And we are thankful for Bernie Sanders for saying ‘Let’s keep it in the ground.’ Don’t make a mess we can’t clean up.”

LaDuke’s support has largely been ignored by mainstream media, but in the Native American community, her endorsement could be influential. LaDuke has worked tirelessly for tribal rights and sustainable energy development. She is no lightweight, either. LaDuke, who is a member of the Mississippi Band Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe), graduated from Harvard and is the Director of Honor the Earth.

And last Tuesday, Sanders appointed Tara Houska, another member of Ojibwe, as his Native American advisor. Houska is a contributing columnist with Indian Country Today Media Network. Her role is an important one, as she will assist Sanders in crafting his Native American policy. According to ICTMN, Houska will help bring Native American issues to the spotlight.

“I hope to elevate native American issues at a high level. Too much of America is unaware of the plights our communities face and we are tired of hearing more of the same from politicians. I look forward to continued and expanded outreach in Indian country. Our voices and our votes matter.”

Like LaDuke, Houska is a leader in the Native American community. She attended University of Minnesota with a triple major in Biology, Art History, and American Indian Studies. She also got her law degree from University of Minnesota Law School. LaDuke and Houska also work together with Honor the Earth.

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - FEBRUARY 28: Members of the Black Bird Dane Troupe dance during a campaign rally for Democratic Party presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on February 28, 2016 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Sanders spoke on a wide range of issues, including getting big money out of politics, his plan to make public colleges and universities tuition-free, combating climate change and ensuring universal health care. (Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images)
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – FEBRUARY 28:Black Bird Dane Troupe dance during a campaign rally for Bernie Sanders. (Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images)

And although she is Russian and not American, Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova has voiced her support of Sanders. She explained to Rolling Stone magazine why she wants to see him win the White House. She cited less freedom in Russia than in the United States as one major reason for supporting him.

“I need to see some inspirational things going on in another country, because it could inspire me and other activists to work more and work harder in Russia. Please be our inspiration.”

[Photo: J Pat Carter/Getty]

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