Bernie Sanders lost the 2016 Democratic primary, but less than one year later, his progressive platform appears to be winning over the party and, maybe even more importantly, some of its biggest donors.
There were a number of factors that contributed to Sanders losing to Hillary Clinton in last year’s primary, with the relatively small exposure of the Vermont Senator likely the biggest one. But as Sanders’ progressive message continues to gain more visibility, it is winning over some of the key players who will be determining the party’s platform moving forward.
This week, the Democratic Party’s biggest donor, California hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer, gave a rousing endorsement of Bernie’s platform. Steyer supported Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election and gave close to $90 million to Democratic candidates and causes last year, but this year appears to be throwing all of his support behind Sanders’ vision for the future.
In an interview with Mic, Steyer echoed the famous Bernie Sanders stump speech that drew record crowds throughout the 2026 primary.
“There is an absolute, unspoken war between corporate interests and the American people,” he said.
“That’s the underlying subtext for all of the public discussions within the Democratic party.”
“We’re seeing a deliberate attempt to take away [working families’] future by really rich people. Until we address that, I don’t think we’re dealing with the reality Americans are facing today,” he continued.
Steyer also echoed the more recent work Bernie Sanders has been doing, offering a strong opposition to Donald Trump by presenting a strong vision for the future.
“Being not-Trump is not nearly enough. We have to put forward our positive vision for the future. If we can’t do that, then I don’t understand the point,” Steyer said.
Some of Sanders’ biggest rallying cries are catching on as well. Steyer called a single-payer health care system the “gold standard” for the United States, a strong sign that the push for single-payer (or “Medicare for all,” as it is also being branded) has gained considerable traction since Sanders was pushing it on the campaign trail.
New York Times columnist Suzy Khimm noted that the idea of single-payer health care, seen as a fringe idea even a few months ago, now has considerable traction among everyone from the average voters to top congressional Democrats.
“Single payer is now poised to become the standard position for the Democratic base. More elected Democrats are following suit as Republicans struggle to get their deeply unpopular health care bill past Congress. The prevailing assumption is that the G.O.P. effort will ultimately implode, clearing the way for a bold alternative. Senator Dick Durbin, the upper chamber’s second-highest-ranking Democrat, told me that he’d happily sign onto a single-payer bill — and might even bring one to the floor himself.”
One of the biggest criticisms against Bernie Sanders last year was that he was an “outsider” to the Democratic Party, a Senator who had spent his career as an independent and only joined the party to run for president. But in recent months, Sanders has taken efforts to embed himself within the party, even going on a “Unity Tour” with Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez.
So with major donors getting behind his platform and top Democrats all falling in line with single-payer, it seems that the future of the Democratic Party will look a lot more like Bernie Sanders’ vision.
[Featured Image by Alex Wong/Getty Images]