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Bernie Sanders rally fills Cal Expo to capacity

Bernie Sanders rally fills Cal Expo to capacity

By Isabella Ainsworth and Laura Bock,
BlueDevilHUB.com Staff–

The Sacramento Cal Expo field was at maximum capacity Monday, May 9 as 15,000 Bernie Sanders supporters came to hear the senator and presidential candidate speak.

Several musical groups entertained the crowd for several hours before Sanders spoke, creating a cheerful, concert-like atmosphere in the arena. People came wearing dressed in all their Bernie Sanders attire–t-shirts, hats, pins–and many of them held homemade signs with slogans like “FDR would feel the Bern” or “Latinos for Bernie.”

Prior to his speech, Washington Unified School District (West Sacramento) board member Norma Alcala and actor Danny Glover spoke about the campaign.

“[Sanders] has a moral compass and it’s always headed north, towards justice.”~Actor and Bernie Sanders supporter Danny Glover

Alcala encouraged everyone in attendance to help campaign for Sanders, and said that during her campaign for school board member she visited 100 houses a day.

“You guys are younger,” Alcala said. “You can walk twice that.”

“You are part of […] a movement that relies on one thing: honesty, integrity and justice. That’s what we’re talking about,” Glover said. “Justice for all people. That’s what this man has been about all his career.”

Glover described Sanders’ experience in various careers and as a member of the civil rights movement.

“He has a moral compass and it’s always headed north, towards justice. He cares about us, he cares about healthcare […] he cares about living wages, making sure that men and women have a living wage so they can build communities and build families,” he said.

Sanders’ speech, which lasted about an hour, covered many of the senator’s main talking points, from his ire at the deregulation of Wall Street to what he called exploitation of undocumented immigrants.

He said that the minimum wage nowadays is no longer a “living wage” but a “starvation wage,” and promised that if he wins the presidency, he will ensure a $15-per-hour minimum wage in every state.

Sanders’ idea of free college was popular with the crowd. He said that the idea is not as novel as many might think. Free college, Sanders said, exists in Germany and Scandinavia, and used to exist in parts of the United States.

“It may surprise you, but 40 or 50 years ago that idea existed here in California,” Sanders said.

Sanders was referring to the Master Plan of California, which ensured for many years that University of California and California State University tuition was low.

Much of the speech was spent highlighting the differences between Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has opened up a large delegate lead over Sanders in the race for the Democratic nomination.

“Let me give you some reassuring news, and that is: Donald Trump is not going to be president.”~Bernie Sanders

Sanders mentioned Clinton’s donors, many of whom are from Wall Street, and her paid Wall Street speeches.

Sanders also mentioned Clinton’s support for the Iraq War, which he opposed: “We’re not going to rebuild the infrastructures of Iraq or Afghanistan, we’re going to rebuild American cities,” he said.

The senator also cited facts from his own campaign, mentioning that it has received 7.3 million individual campaign contributions. He then proceeded to ask the audience what the average contribution was.

They responded with a roaring, “27 dollars!”

Sanders also addressed presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

“Let me give you some reassuring news, and that is: Donald Trump is not going to be president,” Sanders said, adding that his campaign has a better shot to defeat Trump than Clinton’s and citing some polls that show Sanders beating Trump by greater margins than Clinton.

Sanders emphasized the importance of his young supporters actually voting on Election Day; while young people support Sanders in large numbers, they are also historically the least represented at the voting booths.

Senior Yanely Herrera, a Sanders supporter since December, heard about the rally on Facebook.

“When I first heard about it, I told my dad ‘I have to go!’ and it happened,” said Herrera, who waited in line for three hours.

“I am supportive of public discourse and while I don’t agree with all of what [Sanders is] saying, I appreciate that voters are energized enough to participate in the political process–political efficacy is very important.”~Senior Varun Kota

“It’s one thing listening to him on TV and on YouTube and everything, but just being a few feet away from him…it’s mindblowing,” she said. “Everything just seems more real.”

Herrera realizes Sanders’ victory is mathematically improbable, but still has hope.

“The reality is that he’s pretty behind,” she said. “I think that if people unite […] he has more of a chance, but if they [don’t], I still consider him a winner. He’s still a winner to me.”

Senior Varun Kota didn’t attend the Sanders rally and believes Clinton would be a better presidential nominee.

“I think there are both positives and negatives to Sanders staying in [the race] at this point,” Kota said. “The positives, especially for people that prescribe to Sanders’ political ideology, include promoting public discourse about liberal issues like income inequity and campaign finance reform. I think the negatives is that Clinton is distracted from beating the real opponent–not Sanders–but Trump, who is destabilizing civil politics and threatens both the domestic economy and America’s international standing.”

Kota prefers many of Clinton’s policies to Sanders’ but still supports Sanders fans mobilizing for the rally.

“I am supportive of public discourse and while I don’t agree with all of what [Sanders is] saying, I appreciate that voters are energized enough to participate in the political process–political efficacy is very important,” he said.

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