The son of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), who is currently pursing his own quest for political office, has showcased some of the trademark criticism for the Democratic Party associated with his father's failed 2016 presidential bid.
Levi Sanders didn't hold back in dissecting the reasons why the Democratic Party came up short in 2016 while discussing his own candidacy with the Independent.
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The younger Sanders, the Democratic socialist senator's only biological son and a candidate for Congress in New Hampshire, blasted the Democratic Party for failing to make inroads with working-class voters, claiming the party has done a "poor job" of boosting morale.
"The Democratic Party has done a very poor job of bolstering people’s confidence and self-esteem, and that has significant consequences when it comes to reaching out to low-income and working-class people," Sanders said.
The candidate also offered a strong rebuke of the party's 2016 presidential nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Sanders said Clinton's "deplorable" comments– where she claimed that half of Trump's supporters were part of a "basket of deplorables" that are sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic–were not constructive in appealing to working-class voters.
"When Hillary Clinton used the word ‘deplorable,’ that had a significant effect on so many people," Sanders said. "They basically said ‘We understand that Donald Trump is not a nice guy, but he is one of us. Yes, I know I’m a billionaire, but I’m like your weird uncle. I’m not politically correct and I’m not judging you and that’s the key.'"
His comments echo ones made by the elder Sanders in April of 2017, in which the senator stated it was wrong to describe Trump voters as "deplorable folks."
Sanders addressed his famous lineage directly but stated it wasn't "the real issue" behind his candidacy.
"It’s not about the fact that I am Bernie Sanders’ son – sure, obviously, that is more interesting – but the real issue is every day I get to see the economic pain that people are under," Sanders stated.
Sanders pointed to his work as a legal services analyst in neighboring Massachusetts as having opened his eyes to the plight of those "beaten up by the system."
"The thing which has inspired me was working in legal services for almost 18 years and being a union member for 23 years," Sanders said. "The work I do means every day I see people getting beaten up by the system."
The younger Sanders announced in February that he would run as a Democrat in New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District. Sanders, who doesn't live in the district, is running on a platform similar to that of his father, emphasizing universal health care, free college tuition, and a higher minimum wage.
The seat became vacant when incumbent Democrat Rep. Carol Shea-Porter opted to retire instead of seeking re-election this fall. The district, which is marginally Republican on paper, has changed hands repeatedly in recent years and is one of the nation's closest swing districts.
Since announcing his candidacy, Sanders has lagged in fundraising behind candidates with lower name recognition. His campaign reported raising $12,000 in the first quarter of 2018 compared to the $480,000, $205,000, and $135,000 raised by three other Democratic candidates.