Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has long been known for his unabashedly populist rhetoric.
But when the former Democratic presidential nominee was asked by an audience member what the best way to change the country was, he chose to talk about empathy.
During his presidential campaign, Sanders spoke of the “gut-wrenching suffering” of the working class and the need to “put people first.”
But it was his first speech to a crowd of a few hundred people in a packed auditorium in Seattle, Washington, on Monday that captured the essence of the Vermont senator’s political worldview: Empathy.
In a speech that was both touching and at times, even poignant, Sanders explained how he believes empathy is the best political strategy.
“I believe that we need to reach out and listen to the pain and suffering of people around the world,” Sanders said.
“It is not enough to say that we’re all in this together.
I am going in with a huge heart and big voice, and I’m going to go in with empathy.”
Sanders spoke about the plight of the homeless, who have become increasingly vulnerable as the global economy has slowed down, and the plight for people in countries such as China and North Korea.
In a speech about global warming, Sanders mentioned that many countries around the globe have seen dramatic increases in sea level, leading to more severe storms and wildfires.
And while the United States has not seen an increase in sea levels, he noted that there are many countries that have seen a decrease.
“We have the highest concentration of the planet’s landmasses, which are all the continents except Antarctica,” Sanders continued.
“And the oceans are disappearing faster than we thought.
I think it’s time to think about how we are going to manage our planet.”
Sanders, who is also the Democratic nominee for president in 2020, went on to talk up the potential impact of his presidency, including the “historic opportunity to fix our broken criminal justice system and to reduce the incarceration rate.”
“What we are seeing now is a major opportunity for the American people to have their voices heard,” Sanders concluded.
“The American people are tired of being told that the only way to solve our problems is through violence, that the solution is to take out our police and destroy their lives.
And if we do that, we will be a nation of laws and we will all be living in fear.”