National / Politics / U.S. News

Democrat leaders urge activists to stay politically involved

Independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, in Burlington, Vt., at a Democratic Party fundraiser. Sanders appeared along with U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, the Minnesota Democrat who is also the deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee. The two said the party must be welcoming to everyone. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring)

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — America’s Democratic party must revitalize itself by paying attention to the people it represents all the time, not just during elections, the deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee said Thursday.

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, of Minnesota, and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, hammered home that message during a fundraiser before hundreds of the party faithful in Burlington.

Ellison said the Democratic party has to change the way it has been doing business by focusing on relationships between people who are united by shared values.

Over the last several years, he said, the party has not been doing that.

“We have got to change our culture,” Ellison said. “We have got to go from being a battleground state party to a every state, every county Democratic Party.”

To accomplish that, the party needs to “de-emphasize the money and re-emphasize the people,” he said.

Ellison said Democrats were successful in elections across the country this week because the party focused on getting people out to vote.

“We had a good day all over this country on Tuesday because we made massive investments on the doors,” Ellison said. “I’m proud to report to you, the DNC didn’t spend any money on television on Tuesday. I’m not saying the candidates didn’t spend money on television, but the DNC put 100 percent of the money that we spent on the ground.”

Sanders, an independent, said it was imperative to revitalize American democracy and get more people involved in the political process. He said Ellison has been traveling the country and opening the doors of the Democratic party to young people, working people and people of every color, sexual orientation and gender no matter where they come from.

“We’ve got to be in the VFW hall, we’ve got to be in the church, mosque, synagogue basement,” Ellison said. “We’ve got to be there. We’ve got to be on the doorstep.”

The two political leaders appeared at the Vermont Democratic party’s Autumn Harvest Festival. Sanders, who lives in Burlington, got his start in politics when he served as mayor of Burlington in the 1980s.