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On the scene with Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders is running for something, or against something, or for president.

He’s running against the rising tide of income equality that has seen the richest 1 percent of the American population rocket ahead of everyone else in terms of wealth. He’s running against trade agreements that he sees as threats to working Americans. He’s running for a clean environment and against carbon-based climate change. He’s running to increase the minimum wage, coast-to-coast, to $15 an hour. He’s running to preserve public education and reestablish college that’s affordable for the middle-class.

The senator from Vermont was running in Las Vegas on Tuesday, speaking to a packed hall of more than 250 people at the Culinary Union’s hall near Naked City. Wearing a blue shirt, no tie and rolled sleeves, he slammed the big-money interests that this unashamed leftie sees as the bad guys.

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He accepted the enthusiastic support of the union members and others in the hall, but Sanders warned that getting the job would not be easy.

“Nothing significant has even been accomplished without struggle,” he said, referencing the effort to establish unions in the 20th century and the struggle to overcome Jim Crow segregation laws in the 1960s. Despite the enthusiasm of his friends in the hall, and violating the general rule of politicians on the stump to focus on the positive, Sanders also warned that the fight for progressive values is not going well: “We’ve made progress but we still have a long way to go. In terms of the economy, not only are we not winning the fight, we are losing the fight.”

Like a latter-day resurrection of William Jennings Bryan, Sanders slammed the rich and their “religion of greed.”

Linda Turner, who, like Sanders, is 73, is a progressive activist from Henderson. She wore a “Bernie Sanders for President” T-shirt and ate up the message from the incendiary apostle of the left. The T-shirt is no joke, she insisted.

“I want him to run,” she said. “He needs to be the voice. The voice that tells the truth like no one but Bernie can do.”

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Sanders might face some problems in running on a national ticket, presumably for the Democratic presidential nomination. Not only is he unapologetically the loudest and, arguably with Elizabeth Warren, most leftist and populist member of the Senate, but unlike Warren, Sanders isn’t actually a Democrat. First elected in 2007, he is technically an independent, although he caucuses and votes the Democrats. Still, he can be a headache for the Obama White House and Democratic leadership for his maverick bucking of the party orthodoxy.

A presidential run would likely be a headache for any other candidate — say, for example, former senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — who would have to appeal to progressives to hold on to votes in the Democratic primaries and caucuses.

That doesn’t faze Turner and other Sanders supporters. A Sanders run would highlight issues that the Democrats and the American public need to discuss, she said.

“I don’t want an uncontested convention,” Turner said. “There has to be a dialogue. “

Sanders, at his Culinary Union talk, didn’t say he was running or not running. In other interviews, however, he has indicated that he might run if it gives him a venue to promote his agenda.