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Mon Nov 11, 2019, 06:03 AM

AOC Is Huge in Iowa - And she might just be Bernie Sanders' most important surrogate.



Four years ago, Sanders wasn’t avoiding the issue of climate change. (He was talking up “fossil fuel billionaires,” and pushing a climate agenda of his own.) But he wasn’t running on it quite like this, with three-hour summits where people who aren’t running for any office at all talked about the poultry industry, and corporate consolidation of pig-farming, and electrification of freight rail. He wasn’t doing a full weekend of events on the theme, in a state where corn and beef are king. No, this was something new, because in the time since the last campaign ended and this one began, the kinds of idealistic young lefty activists his campaign had counted on in 2016 had latched onto something else entirely and built it into a new organizing force.

Sanders’ core identity is that he’s a man who doesn’t change—Ocasio-Cortez told the crowd Saturday night that she endorsed him because he had been fighting for people like her before she was born. The consistency is the thing; you hear it again and again. So much so that there is a frustration among supporters that other candidates have profited at his expense by simply appropriating aspects of his agenda.

“Every candidate is saying what Bernie has been saying,” said Robin Ruetenik of Coralville. “It’s a coattail orgy.”

But if this campaign turns out different from the last, it’ll be because of the subtle ways he and his movement have evolved. In 2016, Sanders was traveling around the country, promising a new day in America that you could only faintly begin to discern. In 2020, the revolution he promised isn’t quite so hard to imagine—she takes the stage right before him. That’s its own form of renewable energy.


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