WASHINGTON — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) lost the Democratic nomination and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is the new leader of the Senate Democrats. But the Vermont senator’s vision and ideas will dominate the Democratic Party’s attempt to recover from Hillary Clinton’s ruinous White House run.
Schumer will be the person who crafts and leads the strategy, but in sitting down to explain it to The Huffington Post on Friday, he revealed how much of it comes from Sanders, as well as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
“When you lose an election the way we did, you don’t flinch, you don’t look away. You look it in the eye and say ‘What did we do wrong?’” said Schumer, who also had a significant role in Democrats’ 2016 calculations. “To me, overwhelmingly, we did not have a strong economic message. What we need is a sharper, bolder, stronger, more progressive economic message.”
Schumer explained that includes staples from the Sanders and Warren wing of the party ― debt-free college, at least some of the free college that was so mocked by the Clinton campaign, a higher minimum wage, a “bolder” stance on trade, a tougher stance the “rigged” system of lobbyists and special interests, and major investments in infrastructure, among other ideas.
“On economic issues in particular, a strong, bold economic message wins,” Schumer said. “Bernie and I think alike on these issues and always have,” he said, adding that Warren and Sanders both backed him when he first announced his intent to replace retiring Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
Schumer has even embraced Sanders’ choice to head up the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota.
“Bernie convinced me of this. Bernie asked me to do it, to organize it,” Schumer said, adding that he agrees with Sanders’ idea that the DNC needs to become more of an activist and organizing operation.
“So when we’re pushing for a strong college bill on the floor, there are hundreds of thousands of people on campuses across the country emailing, and tweeting and calling and protesting. And when we do minimum wage, there should be minimum wage workers all over the country pushing for that,” Schumer said. “That’s what Bernie wants to do with the DNC, and I completely agree.”