Bernie Sanders Calls for Political Revolution at Manassas Rally

| September 16, 2015 | 0 Comments | News
Senator Bernie Sanders cheers as he takes the podium at the Manassas Fairgrounds, Sept. 14. (Photograph by Stacie Bowman)

Senator Bernie Sanders cheers as he takes the podium at the Manassas Fairgrounds, Sept. 14. (Photograph by Stacie Bowman)

U.S. Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders (D) called for a “political revolution,” Monday, while holding a rally at the Manassas Fairgrounds in front of a crowd of an estimated 3,000.

While campaigning in Virginia to get on the Democratic Primary Ballot for President of the United States, Sanders presented a platform centered around correcting income inequality while also advocating for equality, civil rights and protecting the environment. 

He said the greatest crisis facing our nation “is that we don’t talk about the most serious crisis facing this country.” He described that most serious problem as  “grotesque income inequality,” which he characterized as “the great moral and political issue of our time.”

“We are the 99 percent, and it’s time we took power away from the one percent,” he said in a hoarse voice. “Our country belongs to all of us not just a handful of billionaires.”

He said it works in the favor of the super-rich when Americans are “sliced up” into men against women, gay against straight and native-born against immigrants. It takes away from the bigger issues that are affected our nation.

While many think there is nothing to be done about the state of the economy, he urged the attendees to fight for income equality. Though the corporate media has painted him as a “fringe candidate” he said he has done better than they have expected, garnering large crowds where ever he goes.

“One-tenth of one percent owns as much as the bottom 90 percent,” he told the crowd, explaining that over the last 30 years the middle class has moved in the wrong direction. During that time, the U.S has seen the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major developed nation. The Walton’s who own Walmart, control as much wealth as the bottom 40 percent of the U.S. individuals. Sanders called it a “rigged economy.”

He lamented a job shortage, noting the average family income is $5,000 less than it was in 1999.

He also said it would be cheaper to educate more of the public than it is to incarcerate those with little opportunity. One example he gave was African American males who have dropped out of high school: 51 percent of whom are, or have been in jail at one time.

“[The U.S.] has more people in jail than any other country on earth including communist China…It makes a hell of a lot more sense, investing in education and jobs rather than investing in jails,” Sanders said.

Bernie Sanders among supporters holding signs at the Manassas primary campaign rally. (Stacie Bowman)

Bernie Sanders among supporters holding signs at the Manassas primary campaign rally. (Stacie Bowman)

On Family Values

Sanders said as a father and grandfather he is very strong on family values, they just differ from what the Republicans preach as family values.

“Women in our country should not have the rights to control their own bodies: I disagree. Our gay brothers and sister should not have the right to get married: I disagree.”

He said his family values are that a mother should not be forced to separate from her newborn to go back to work, which is why he would fight for at least 12 weeks of maternity leave, as well as sick leave and vacation time for all workers.

On Jobs

When pollsters ask what people want from their politicians, the answer they receive is “J-O-B-S.”

Sanders proposes a Federal Jobs program. He said too many Americans out of work while the U.S. has aging infrastructure needing to be replaced.

He also wants to take on Wall Street, saying the middle class bailed out Wall Street and now Wall Street owes the middle class. He proposes a tax on investing, which could be used to fund educational opportunities.

He would not let U.S. financial institutions become too big to fail, saying, “if a financial institution is too big to fail, it is too big to exist.”

Sanders speech centered around income inequality for Americans. (Stacie Bowman)

Sanders speech centered around income inequality for Americans. (Stacie Bowman)

On Super Packs and Money in Politics

Sanders laments that money plays such a huge role in politics these days. He said Citizen’s United, the Supreme Court decision that created super packs, created an unequal playing field for American voters.

He said the Koch brothers are spending $900 million this campaign cycle, which makes the U.S. not a representative democracy but effectively an “oligarchy.”

In response, the audience chanted, “We are not for sale.”

On Environment, Climate Change

“Climate change is real. Climate change is caused by human activity,” Sanders told the audience, saying, he could not think of anything more important than leaving the earth to ‘our children and grandchildren.’

He told the audience that scientists have predicted the earth will warm by 5 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century. He talked about the dangerous domino effect that would create: temperatures would rise, sea levels would rise, droughts would increase, famines would become frequent, and with a lack of food and nature resources, people and nations would inevitably go to war against one another.

Sanders addresses the crowd. (Stacie Bowman)

Sanders addresses the crowd. (Stacie Bowman)

On College, Education

Not only does Sanders want public college tuition to be free, but he wants people to be able to refinance their student loans as people refinance their mortgages.

He believes low-income students will achieve if they know that they too can go to college. And, he said it makes more sense to spend money to educate our society than to through those without opportunity for good jobs in jail for participating in an illegal economy.

On Healthcare

“In my view healthcare is a right, not a privilege,” Sanders said, calling for a single-payer program.

On Racism, Black Lives Matter

While we have gone far, in electing a black president, Sanders believes there is still institutional racism in the nation.

He said believing “black lives matter,” is not an attack on police. He said the vast majority of police behave honorably in a very difficult profession, but those who do not must be held accountable.

He also called for an end to end private companies profiting on incarceration, and he wants to “rethink the war on drugs,” saying that drug and alcohol dependency should be treated as a disease rather than a crime.

On War, Veterans

Sanders said he believes in a strong military, but has seen the toll of war, especially on young lives lost, severe life-long injuries incurred and PTSD. For that reason, he would not rush into wars, but would support veteran services. Additionally, he said he never supported the war in Iraq.

Attendees enthusiastically support Sanders. (Stacie Bowman)

Attendees enthusiastically support Sanders. (Stacie Bowman)

Attendees

Sanders visited Liberty University Monday morning and then went on to Manassas to speak and sign up people to help him get on the ballot as one of the Democratic candidates for President of the United States.

Sanders took the stage in front of a liberal-leaning audience that included many college and university students. Audience members chanted “feel the burn” and “We can’t be sold.”

Four Mary Washington students made the trek from Fredericksburg to Manassas to hear Bernie Sanders speak.

“I’m something of a Marxist,” said Michael Broyles of Staunton, Virginia. “I’m a socialist,” said his friend, Annie Cutting also of Staunton.

Broyles believes Sanders can become the Democratic nominee.

“Oh, yeah. He’s already beaten Obama’s numbers at this point in the primary race,” he said.

All four students said they prefer Sanders to Clinton.

But, Dotty Smith a baby-boomer from Burke, Virginia, was still unsure if she prefers Sanders to Hillary Clinton.

“I like a lot of Bernie Sanders views of things, and I wanted to hear more of what he had to say,” she said. Explaining her reason for coming out Monday evening, she said, “It’s just exciting to see someone of this caliber in person.”

Amber Gum of Herndon, brought her young son with her to see Bernie Sanders. As she waited for Sanders to arrive, he ran around her in circles.

Gum also came out to hear Sander’s message in personal.

“I like the stuff he says about income inequality,” she said. “I like that a lot.”

Sarah Nelson introduces Sen. Bernie Sanders at Manassas. (Stacie Bowman)

Sarah Nelson introduces Sen. Bernie Sanders at Manassas with L-R Tiffany Finck-Haynes and Simone Sanders. (Stacie Bowman)

Introductions

Sanders was introduced by women.

M.C. Simone Sanders rallied the crowd, then talked about how the Supreme Court gutted key provisions of the Voting Rights Act.

“Black lives are under attack,” she said, and a “multi-racial political revolution” is needed.

Tiffany Finck-Haynes, a representative from Friends of the Earth, said she supported Sanders because he places people and the environment above profits.

She said he opposed the Keystone Pipeline and calls for overturning Citizen’s United, plus he supports wind, solar and geothermal power.

Sarah Nelson, International President of the Association of Flight Attendants, spoke about the negative impact Wall Street has had on the airline industry and praised unions as standing up for a living wage for men and women.

“Corporations are not people; we are people!” she said. 

To support Bernie Sanders, visit berniesanders.com

Throughout Sanders’ speech he repeatedly compared the United States to other highly developed industrial countries, highlighting how the U.S. lags behind in progressive policies on education, healthcare, crime and punishment, economic opportunities and equality for women and relative income equality.

Republican Response

While, Bernie Sanders energized the crowd in Manassas, not everyone felt his platform signaled that the U.S. was headed in the right direction. Some Prince William Republicans believes his campaign for president demonstrates that the Democrats have veered too far into socialist ideology.

Prince William GOP President, Bill Card, sent this statement:

“Bernie Sanders’ presence here shows the political importance of Prince William County, but his rising support over Hillary Clinton further proves how liberal, extreme and socialist the Democrat Party has gone. Socialism is the ideology of nations like Vietnam, North Korea & Cuba, not a freedom-loving nation like the United States of America or a mainstream state like Virginia. The question is: do Virginia and Prince William County Democrats now support this socialist form of government?”

© 2015, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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