Sanders Vows To ‘Meet In The Streets’ After West Virginia Cancels Town Hall

Bernie Sanders scheduled two town halls in West Virginia for this week. The first one, in Charleston on Sunday evening, drew more than 2,000 attendees. The second one, scheduled for Monday morning, was abruptly cancelled by the state the day before it was to be held. After weeks of planning — including consulting with the proper authorities and with hundreds of people having signed up to attend — Sanders was furious.

The event was to have been held at a National Guard Armory in McDowell County. MSNBC’s Chris Hayes was poised to host the meeting and broadcast it on his show. Sanders wanted to feature the county to show how poverty affects people’s lives.

In a statement after finding out about the cancellation, he said:

I want people to see, first hand, how poverty leads to terrible despair and that, in reality, how it is a death sentence for many. In McDowell County, one of the poorest areas in one of our poorest states, people are now living shorter lives than their parents. Unemployment is sky high, drug addiction is at an epidemic rate and the schools lack adequate funding. It is high time that we, as a nation, heard from the people who are impacted by this crisis and determined the best ways forward.

The state of West Virginia apparently isn’t interested in broadcasting the plight of the residents of McDowell County. Or maybe their reluctance had to do with the message he is delivering about the current presidency while touring to promote his new book, “Our Revolution.”

In Charleston, Sanders told the crowd:

What [Trump] is doing is what demagogues have always done, and that is to pick on minorities and try to divide this country up. What a real statesman attempts to do — what good government is about — is bringing people together to improve life for all.

The truth is, bad things happen when good people do not stand up and fight. That’s what we’ve got to do. 

That’s certainly what the senator intends to do in the face of West Virginia’s decision. In spite of the fact the Sanders says he worked with the National Guard to arrange the event, Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety officials issued this excuse:

Once the details of the proposed event were shared with the Adjutant General’s office on Friday afternoon, it became apparent that it would run afoul of DOD and State Armory Board policy and the request could not be accommodated.

Sanders fired back:

If anyone in West Virginia government thinks that I will be intimidated from going to McDowell County, West Virginia, to hold a town meeting, they are dead wrong. If they don’t allow us to use the local armory, we’ll find another building. If we can’t find another building, we’ll hold the meeting out in the streets. That town meeting will be held. Poverty in America will be discussed. Solutions will be found.

That’s the kind of spunky leadership that the country is sorely in need of. It’s also what is sadly lacking in the Democratic Party. Sanders’ statement is worth repeating:

What a real statesman attempts to do — what good government is about — is bringing people together to improve life for all. 

Because the senator is a real statesman, he vowed that he’s going back “with or without” MSNBC — but the station is all in. Spokeswoman Kristen Osborne said:

MSNBC was very much looking forward to the event and are planning on rescheduling as soon as possible, and details will be released as soon as we have them. Bernie Sanders will be a guest on ‘All In’ tonight, and he will be addressing it.

Bernie Sanders isn’t going away anytime soon. He continues to have the allies to push for resistance to the administration, as well as to build on the progressive movement he started.

West Virginia will just have to get used to it — and so will the political parties.

Feature photo from Facebook page, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders.


 
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Deborah Montesano

Deborah Montesano is a longtime political activist and blogger. She learned to fight against impossible odds by living for years in Arizona, but recently relocated to the more progressive-friendly city of Portland, Oregon. Find her on Facebook at facebook.com/thepoliticali/ or on Twitter @thepoliticali_1.

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