When the Healthcare Justice March invited Bernie Sanders, popular senator and now Democratic presidential candidate, to speak at the rally on Aug. 1, they admittedly had little hope of even getting a response. However, when contacted about the HJM, Senator Sanders expressed a desire to participate.
Today, Healthcare Justice March organizers are thrilled to announce that Senator Sanders’ Chief of Staff, Michaeleen Crowell, will read a statement for the Senator, who isn’t able to attend in person due to a scheduling conflict elsewhere. In addition, Senator Sanders plans to contribute a YouTube video for the Healthcare Justice March.
“We’re not exactly sure how the technology will work,” admits Sue Saltmarsh, director and self-proclaimed technophobe, “but we’re so happy that Bernie Sanders wants to participate enough for him to make the video!”
Sanders has been involved in politics and activism since the 1960s. He was active in the civil rights movement as an organizer for the Congress of Racial Equality and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and also participated in the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
His career as an elected official began in 1981 when he won the race for Mayor of Burlington, VT. He served four terms as Mayor before deciding not to run again in 1989. In 1990, he defeated the incumbent to become the first Independent to win a Congressional seat in 40 years. He was elected to the Senate in 2006 and re-elected in 2012 with 71% of the vote.
Throughout his entire career, Sanders has been a consistently strong voice in support of a truly universal, single-payer healthcare system in the U.S. In 2013 he introduced S. 1782, the American Health Security Act, which would enable participating states to establish single-payer systems. Congressman Jim McDermott of Washington introduced H.R. 1200 of the same name also in 2013 and again in March of 2015. Word has it that the Sanders bill will be re-introduced soon as well.
“We’re all very excited to have Senator Sanders’ participation in the rally,” says David Ball, who helped coordinate with the senator’s Washington office. “While we wish he could have been here in person, he has always been passionate and unwavering in his support of equal access to medical care for everyone and we’re grateful for his support in sending Ms Crowell to speak on his behalf.”