Dr. Jane O’Meara Sanders, wife of Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, launched the Sanders Institute June 7 with the help of some prominent progressive thought leaders.
“The mission of the Sanders Institute is to revitalize democracy by actively engaging individuals, organizations, and the media in the pursuit of progressive solutions to economic, environmental, racial, and social justice issues,” reads the mission statement on the organization’s website.
Joining Dr. Jane O’Meara Sanders, who is listed as the founder of the Burlington-based institute, are ten members of the progressive movement headlined by Berkeley professor Robert Reich and liberal intellectual Dr. Cornel West.
Reich, who served as secretary of labor under former President Bill Clinton, has called for a “peaceful resistance” to President Donald Trump and disparaged the president’s cabinet nominees as “mostly unqualified and incompetent.” Reich released a “First 100 Day Resistance Agenda” that called for “well-managed” marches and demonstrations, as well as a boycott of all Trump products. (RELATED: Robert Reich Warns Against July 4th ‘Americanism’)
West referred to Trump as a “neo-Facist” and thinks that life under the Trump administration “is one of the most frightening moments in the history of this very fragile empire and fragile republic.” West, a professor at Princeton University, is listed as one of the initiators of Refuse Fascism, a group advocating resistance to Trump on college campuses such as the University of California Berkeley.
Nina Turner, an former Ohio Democratic state senator and national surrogate for the Bernie Sanders 2016 presidential campaign, will also serve as a fellow at the Sanders Institute. While the Democratic party continues to focus on unsubstantiated claims of collusion between Trump and Russia, Turner is on the record stating that “No one in Ohio is asking about Russia.” Turner has been at odds with the Democratic establishment in the past, famously feuding with disgraced DNC chairwoman Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Emmy award-winning artist and activist Harry Belafonte is listed as a fellow with the Sanders Institute. Belafonte once compared billionaire energy moguls and political activists Charles and David Koch to the Ku Klux Klan.
“They make up the heart and the thinking in the minds of those who would belong to the Ku Klux Klan. They are white supremacists. They are men of evil. They have names,” Belafonte said in a 2013 campaign speech for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Economics professor Jeffrey Sachs will serve as a fellow, as will climate activist and environmentalist Bill McKibben. Sachs, who heads the Earth Institute at Columbia University, has argued for a carbon tax. He said in 2015 that low oil prices and more lucrative investment opportunities in green energy made it the perfect time for a carbon tax.
McKibben has notoriously flip-flopped on the issue of natural gas production. (RELATED: Top Eco-Activist Bashes Dems For Supporting Natural Gas -Except He Did It Once Too)
Actor Danny Glover, star of “Lethal Weapon” with Mel Gibson, will join the institute as a fellow. Glover once told The Daily Caller that the U.S. should abolish guns.
“I don’t own a gun and definitely not only gun control, we should abolish guns, the personal guns. That’s how far I’m willing to go,” Glover told TheDC in 2013.
Hawaii Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is listed as the only member of Congress in the inaugural class of fellows. Gabbard said in April that she was “studying more about the impeachment process,” in reference to Trump.
Former NAACP president Ben Jealous, who has been active with the Black Lives Matter movement, is a fellow as well. Jealous, like Turner, famously feuded with the Clinton campaign and the DNC in the lead up to 2016. He reportedly blasted the Clinton campaign for failing to take a harsher stance against Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
The Sanders campaign criticized Emanuel for what it viewed as a disastrous record on police violence in Chicago.
Economist Dr. Stephanie Kelton, professor at the University of Missouri – Kansas City, rounds out the 11 fellows.
The Sanders Institute is listed as a charitable 501(c)(3). Much like “Our Revolution,” a separate non-profit connected to Sanders, the Sanders Institute will not have to disclose its donors.
Sanders has not closed the door on a potential 2020 presidential run. Many of his loyal supporters feel that the Clinton-dominated DNC treated him unfairly during the 2016 Democratic primary process.
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