U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders addresses a "town hall" style meeting at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio (22 August 2017). Photo Courtesy Toni Dengel, SOPM Media
“I’m here in ‘Trump Country,’” Bernie Sanders announced when he visited Portsmouth, Ohio, on Tuesday for one of his signature town hall meetings. These five words, six syllables helped frame one of the Senator’s main points – Donald Trump may have won this county and region by large numbers, and thus led the national media to brand us “Trump Country,” but the reality is that there are no red states or blue states. According to Bernie, local and national issues like the opioid epidemic, affordable healthcare, student debt, a living wage, mass incarceration, climate change, and economic inequalities are issues facing all Americans, whether here in southern Ohio, or in communities on the East and West coasts.
Sanders remains the voice of his original constituency but his progressive message and the failure of the Trump presidency has made him the torch-bearer of an insurgent national progressive movement, one that he and “Team Bernie” hope to inspire and help build.
This is where we come in. While the president may have his supporters, a significant and growing number of area residents do not want to see the label “TRUMP COUNTRY” stick. Like Bernie, we want a better future for all, not just the wealthiest among us. We support a living wage; we demand a sensible tax system that encourages companies to keep their high-paying jobs in the US; we support collective bargaining rights, which helps the working class become middle class. We support the ACA but want Medicare-for-All. Sanders laid out the road map and pointed the way -- community, activism, resistance, constant vigilance, and taking part in the political process. He called on progressives to run for local office and participate in democracy.
Nearly 700 people turned out for Bernie Sanders when he visited Portsmouth, Ohio, on August 22nd, 2017, including this couple who proudly wore their "Vote for Bernie" t-shirts. Photo Courtesy Toni Dengel, SOPM Media
Bernie Sanders reached out to the Southern Ohio Progressive Movement (SOPM) when he decided to visit Portsmouth. And we were happy to welcome him to our community. We say: “be the change that you want to see in Southern Ohio, in Brown, Adams, Scioto, Pike, Lawrence and Jackson Counties.”
Let’s turn our home into “Bernie Country.” Join SOPM at 6:30pm on September 20th at the IBEW Local 575 Hall, 110 Offnere Street, Portsmouth, Ohio, and help us take the next steps in this movement.