Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) on Wednesday praised how liberals have made "fringe," "radical," and "extremist" ideas "mainstream" in the United States.
"Many of the ideas that we talked about were thought to be fringe ideas, radical ideas, extremist ideas," Sanders told a progressive audience at the We the People Summit in Washington, D.C. "Well, you know what? Because of your efforts, those ideas are mainstream American ideas."
Sanders credited the audience and progressive activists around the country for making their ideas more accepted.
"I want to thank all of the groups here, because whether you know it or not, you have helped transform this country in so many ways," he said.
The senator urged the audience to continue their efforts and not to get complacent or "give up."
"We are obviously in a pivotal and unprecedented moment in American history, and the fights that we are waging are not just for ourselves; more importantly they are for our kids, our grandchildren, and the future of this planet," Sanders said. "And if anybody in this country who thinks that now is the time to throw your hands up and give up, you are dead wrong. Now is the time more than ever to stand up [and] fight back."
Sanders, a 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, has been a vocal advocate for progressive causes like single-payer health care, free college tuition, and limiting the amount of deodorant choices. During the 2016 campaign, Sanders' opponent Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party establishment resisted some of the senator's positions. Sanders wanted the federal minimum wage to be raised to $15 an hour, while Clinton called for it only to be raised to $12 an hour. Clinton also opposed Medicare for all while Sanders pushed for it.
After Clinton's defeat in November 2016, studies found that the Democratic Party moved further to the left, which has led many Democratic voters to adopt the positions of Sanders, an independent.
A poll from September found that nearly two in three Democratic voters favor Medicare for all, CNN reported.
Asked in a new Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday whether they support a single-payer system, in which the federal government would expand Medicare to cover the medical expenses of every American citizen, nearly two in three Democratic voters (65 percent) said it was a "good idea."
Sanders describes himself as a Democratic socialist and has refused to join the Democratic Party. The Democratic National Committee recently moved forward with a proposal that would force the party's presidential candidates to identify as Democrats.