On July 15th, thousands of Iowans will gather at Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines, Iowa, the site of the very important Jefferson Jackson Dinner that is always the highlight of the Presidential Caucus season. In 2007 Barack Obama gained momentum there on his way to an upset victory over Hillary Clinton in the Iowa Caucus.

No, this Saturday is not the Jefferson Jackson Dinner, and it is not even an event sponsored by either political party. This event is being sponsored by one of the state’s largest community activist groups. Citizens for Community Improvement is holding its yearly convention, and its keynote speaker is the real front-runner for president in 2020.

No, I am not talking about Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, or Cory Booker. Hillary Clinton is not running again, but Bernie Sanders is doing everything a potential candidate would be doing. Make no mistake about it: Bernie, as his supporters lovingly call him, is the front-runner for president in 2020, and he will get a rock star welcome in Des Moines later this week.

Some doubt Sanders will be able to make another run for the White House at his advanced age. I am not one of them. I just have to remember July 3rd and 4th of 2015. Over the two days, in sweltering heat, Bernie walked the full distance of three parades. I remember staffers from Hillary Clinton’s campaign applauding as he arrived at the finish of the Waukee parade, impressed that he walked the whole route.

One thing a lot of people don’t realize about Bernie is he is in great shape. I am 52 and I can’t keep up with the senator. Bernie was a long distance runner in high school and he walks every morning for exercise. Barring a quick decline in health, I believe Bernie Sanders can handle another campaign for president. I also believe he will win.

I came to Iowa in February of 2015 to cover the Iowa Caucus. I remember going to an event at Prairie Lights bookstore in Iowa City. Bernie was there to sign a book about his filibuster against the Bush tax cuts. He packed the room, to the point where many attendees could only hear him but couldn’t see him speak. 150 people attended that event.

Bernie is not only coming to Des Moines this Saturday, in August he is returning to Iowa City, where the bookstore has rented a larger venue for him. Prairie Lights is too small, so the August book signing and speech will be at Hancher Auditorium, which seats 1,800 people. Des Moines in July, Iowa City in August … I’m sensing a pattern.

Bernie has continued to travel the country, staying in the public eye while providing leadership on the most important issues. He is leading the fight on healthcare. Over the weekend he was in Kentucky and West Virginia fighting against Trumpcare and for single payer healthcare.

The polls show that Bernie is the most popular politician in America and he has a movement behind him.

Many argue that the South is still his Achilles heel. I don’t believe that is true anymore. The Clintons were loved by the African American community, and going into the 2016 primary season Bernie was not that well known in the African American community. The whole country knows who Bernie is now, and they love him.

They love him because he is authentic. People know he believes what he says. His message is not poll-tested and his supporters believe he is fighting for them.

There is some division within the party. The Clinton/Sanders establishment/progressive divide is a natural one. But the establishment will realize that, on the issues, Bernie is right. I believe the establishment Democrats are more liberal than they want to admit. They are just scared to support what they consider to be too far to the left.

Bernie is doing exactly what Democrats need to do to win elections. He is not waiting for a campaign to fight for the agenda he believes in. Bernie understands that it his job to convince people that he has the right message, not to adapt to what the polls say people want. I hope that all Democrats can put 2016 in the rearview mirror and support the candidate who can unite the base and grow the party.

Candidates like Sherrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren will not capture the hearts of young people like Bernie has. They may be able to build a base for 2024, but they will not be as strong as Bernie is with independents in 2020. Bernie has something that I have never seen before. Everyone likes him. Talk to your cab drivers and people at the supermarket. Even Trump supporters say they like Bernie; they don’t always agree with him, but they believe he cares about them.

Bernie Sanders is coming back to Iowa this weekend and again next month. Not only is he doing everything he needs to do to launch his 2020 campaign, he has not stopped running since that appearance at Prairie Lights Book Store in 2015.

This Saturday, RSN will stream Bernie’s speech and the whole CCI Convention, which will also feature Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza starting at 9 am Central.

(From Reader Supported News)

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