I just got back from walking the picket lines in Michigan and Ohio. Several striking workers, all of them former Democrats, told me how they voted for Donald Trump in 2016 out of desperation. They believed Trump would deliver on his promise to keep jobs in America and negotiate good trade deals. Now, they feel betrayed.
Midwestern working-class voters are not alone. In fact, a Reuters/Ipsos national Election Day poll in 2016 found that 75% of voters were looking for a “strong leader to take the country back from the rich and powerful.” If we want to win back voters in Ohio and Michigan, we need to inspire them with a transformational vision of change, and not incrementalism that they’ll again reject as inadequate in this moment of growing inequality.
This desire for bold change extends beyond the Midwest. Just a few years ago, the demand for a $15 per hour minimum wage was dismissed by critics — many of them Democrats — as unrealistic. But a powerful grassroots movement successfully challenged the status quo. The popularity of once-fringe ideas like “Medicare for All” and the “Green New Deal” demonstrate that our movement is on the march.
There is one presidential candidate who has shown up and stood up as a champion on all these issues. We believe that candidate is Bernie Sanders. Throughout his career, he has unapologetically embraced the progressive ideas that are now dominating the debates and gaining support from Americans across the country.
The movement he inspired shows that people — like the striking General Motors workers — still yearn for a leader who will take our country back from the rich and powerful. In the upcoming election, states like Ohio and Michigan will go to the candidate who does more than promise real change, but has spent his entire career building a movement to deliver it.
Joseph Geevarghese is the executive director of Our Revolution.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump voters now feel betrayed and want a leader to take America back