Pittsburgh felt the Bern on Sunday, but it wasn’t anything close to the torching that flamboyant U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders gave to the wealthiest Americans, Wall Street and President Donald Trump.
Sanders a 2016 presidential candidate, was among the speakers Sunday addressing several thousand American Federation of Teachers members assembled on the third day of their biennial national convention at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown. He also appeared later in the day at Carnegie Mellon University with Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, a Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania lieutenant governor.
The Vermont Independent in a 20-minute speech panned Congress, the Supreme Court and Republican tax, healthcare and immigration policies.
But Sanders reserved his sharpest criticism for the president, whom he described as a “pathological liar.”
“He is in the most un-American way possible attempting to divide the people of our country up based on the color of our skin, our country of birth, our gender, our sexual orientation or our religion,” Sanders said. “When Trump tries to bring back discrimination in this country, we tell him that this country has suffered for too many years from racism and sexism and homophobia and xenophobia. We are not going back. We are going forward.”
A spokesman for the president could not immediately be reached for comment.
Sanders urged educators to “stand up and fight back” and oust Trump in the 2020 election.
He said Congress, is no longer an independent branch of government, but rather a “willful and obedient puppy dog” for the president.
The Supreme Court, he said, has “faithfully and consistently done the bidding of the wealthy and the powerful” and rendered decisions that permits billionaires to buy elections. He urged Americans to oppose Trump nominee Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court.
He predicted progressive candidates would win big in this year’s mid-term elections, noting recent upsets across the country where Democrats have overcome long odds to beat incumbents.
Sanders congratulated U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb of Mt. Lebanon for his victory in the 17th Congressional District, traditionally a GOP seat. He also lauded Sara Innamorato of Lawrenceville and Summer Lee of Swissvale for beating longtime incumbent Democrats in this year’s primary for State House seats.
Lamb also addressed the teacher’s convention.
“Our job now more than anytime in modern American history is to think big and not small,” he said. “It is to understand that when we reach out with a progressive agenda that speaks to the needs of working families we can get people to run for office, we can increase voter turnout and we can take on the oligarchy that now controls this country,” he said. “I believe this is a moment where the American people are saying loud and clear — not just to Trump, not just to Congress — but they are saying no to a set of priorities which benefit the wealthy and the powerful and ignore the needs of working families.”
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter @bobbauder.