Do not tell the approximately 10,000 people that attended the Bernie Sanders rally at the Veteran’s Coliseum in Phoenix on March 5, 2020, that the Vermont Senator can not beat Donald Trump.
With people proudly holding blue and white Bernie signs and loudly chanting “Bernie,” “Feel the Bern,” and “Bernie beats Trump,” the enthusiastic crowd gave the two-time Presidential Candidate a thunderous ovation as he entered the coliseum. They continued to repeatedly applaud him as he made his case against Donald Trump and Joe Biden while presenting his vision for the country.
Setting the Table for Senator Sanders.
As the approximately 10,000 people sat in the Coliseum waiting for the arrival of the Vermont Senator, several guest speakers set the tone for the Presidential Candidate’s address by telling them why supporting Sanders was in the best interests of the country.
Among them was Adiba Khan, an immigrant from Bangladesh who just became an American Citizen. She told the crowd her first vote as a citizen will be for Bernie Sanders. She then challenged everyone in the crowd to knock on doors and get out the vote for Senator Sanders.
Another person who helped get the crowd in an enthusiastic mood was Brian Mecinas, a leader in the organization, Arizona Youth Climate Strike. He told the crowd “with Bernie Sanders, we have a choice to bring real change” in “climate justice, racial justice, and economic justice.”
Hunter Henderson, a retired Marine from the group Veterans for Common Sense told the crowd that Bernie Sanders would not send 18-year-olds into a war that had started before they were born.
The Vice Mayor of Phoenix, Betty Guardado, introduced Senator Sanders, by saying he will fight “for the American Dream for Everyone” and “all of us together will stop Donald Trump.”
Senator Sanders bashes Donald Trump.
Entering to thunderous applause with the song “Dance to the Music” playing in the background, Senator Sanders started his address by telling the people that had gathered:
“You are not only a very large crowd but very loud crowd.”
When the second of three protestors made an immediate disruption, Sanders quickly responded:
“I think you are outnumbered tonight and you will be outnumbered in November.”
Calling this “the most important election in modern history,” Mr. Sanders further said,
“Together we are going to defeat Donald Trump. He is the most dangerous President… We can not leave a person in the White House who is a pathological liar….has not read the Constitution… someone who thinks he is above the law…. In November, we are going to teach Donald Trump a lesson in Democracy and make him a one-term President.”
Sanders then highlighted the reasons Mr. Trump was a liar and a fraud, noting:
- “He said he would provide health care to everyone….He lied… Instead, he tried to throw 32 million off the healthcare they have and do away with preexisting conditions.”
- “He lied about the tax cuts not helping his billionaire friends.”
- “Trust me, I’m not going to cut Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security. He lied again.”
- “Trump is trying to divide our county. We are trying to bring our people together.”
Sanders reaches out to Elizabeth Warren’s supporters.
With the withdrawal of Senator Elizabeth Warren from the Democratic Presidential Race earlier in the day, Sanders called her a good friend and applauded her campaign. He then invited “Senator Warren’s supporters to our cause.”
Joe Biden is an old friend but….
Mr. Sanders, despite boos from the crowd, called Joe Biden an old friend that will be there for him if he (Sanders) wins the nomination and vice versa.
Saying that the differences between him and the former Vice President were small compared to those with Trump, Sanders then pivoted to show how his campaign and voting record contrasted with his remaining major Democratic opponent.
He criticized Biden for taking money and support from billionaires (including the recently withdrawn candidate Michael Bloomberg) and for having a Superpac.
Sanders said that his grassroots support of two million working and middle-class donors has averaged $18.50 a contribution. He expanded on that theme, saying:
“This is a campaign of the working class, by the working class, and for the working class. We are not beholden to Billionaires. Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry, and the fossil fuel industry.”
Mr. Sanders then went on to pick out some of Mr. Biden’s votes and positions over his 35 year Senate Career. These include his support/consideration for:
- The 2003 war in Iraq
- A Bankruptcy bill that was more pro creditor than pro debtor.
- The Wall Street Bailout of 2008
- Cuts to Social Security
He also criticized the former Vice President for initially supporting “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” for gays in the military and not letting women use Medicaid to pay for abortions.
Presenting his Vision-Program for the Country.
After another protestor (an American Nazi unveiling the Nazi Flag) was dispatched (both Biden and Sanders need Secret Service yesterday), the Vermont Senator outlined his vision for the country by listing an extensive progressive program that included:
- Raising the minimum wage to at least $15.00 an hour.
- Women earning the same pay as men
- Making it easier for workers to join unions.
- Investing billions in our crumbling infrastructure.
- “Changing national priorities. Instead of investing in billionaires, we need to invest in education.”
- Affordable universal child care.
- “We believe in teachers. We need many many good teachers. We need more African American, Latina, and Special Ed. No teacher should earn less than $60,000.”
- Free Public Education paid through colleges and universities.
- Canceling all student debt.
- “Ending the embarrassment of being the only advanced country not to guarantee health care. If all the other major countries can do it, so can the United States, and do it cheaply. We have 35,000 people dying a year because they lacked health care.” He also talked about thousands that fell into bankruptcy because of medical debt. “People are wondering if they have that virus but they can not afford to go to the doctor. Health care is a human right and everyone in this country, including the undocumented, should get it.”
- “Passing a Green New Deal with millions of good union paying jobs. Arizona should be one of the leaders in this country. I wlll reach out to other nations because we are all in this together.” After picking on Trump’s genius and his calling “climate change is a hoax, Sanders retorted “I happen to think Donald Trump is a hoax. Our administration will belive in science and we will listen to the scientists We should fight our common enemy that is climate.”
- “We are going to fix a broken justice system. We do not want to be the country that has the most people in jail. We are going to end private prisons. We are going to end the war on drugs.”
- Signing an executive order to legalize marijuana and “expunge” the records of those found guilty of possession.
- “Clear overhaul of the immigration system. I will not accept the continued demonization of the immigration system. On day one, I will sign an Executive Order to restore DACA, end the border policy of snatching babies from parents, and enact comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship.”
- “Gun Safety Legislation will be the most sweeping ever. We will not be intimidated by the NRA. We will pass universal background checks and red flag laws, do away with the gun show loophole, and end the sale and distribution of assault weapons.”
- After calling the Republicans “hypocrites” for saying their claims of wanting to get government off the backs of people did not apply to a woman’s right to choose, Sanders said he would appoint judges that are pro-choice, work to codify Roe vs Wade, and increase funding for Planned Parenthood.
A Call to Action
Senator Sanders finished his address with a call to action to the crowd.
Saying “A President can not do everything alone,” he told everyone that the political revolution they are trying to launch has to be from the “bottom-up” with people “coming together and getting a government that works for everyone..”
This, Mr. Sanders said, can not succeed unless everyone is active in the cause.
He finished by calling on everyone to vote and get friends and family to the polls as well, saying:
“Let us go forward. Let us win in Arizona and let us defeat Donald Trump and let us transform the country.”
Reaction to the Sanders Address
People that heard Sanders were still as devoted to him after the presentation as before.
Shelly Denny commented after the speech that, unlike Biden, “You know what you’re getting with Sanders.”
Both Brandon Abrahams and Jessica Hansen called the speech “amazing.”
Abrahams went further and said Sanders “stands for everything we all stand for” as opposed to the “establishment, the media, and billionaires.”
Hansen said that if the people 18 to 26 (the part of the population “where the country is going,” show up to support Sanders at the levels they can, “he’ll win the nomination.”
Jordon Sokoll, a person who I work for, also attended the event and said:
“It’s good to see a large amount of people from many different backgrounds here for a single cause……The issues that I have had to deal with when it comes to health care really makes Sanders stand out. Plus many of his stances are stances he has had for a long time.”
After seeing tonights address to the 10,000 person crowd in Phoenix, there should be no doubt that Mr. Sanders (should he get the nomination,) would vanquish Donald Trump with relative ease in debates and consistently present his progressive case to the American People.
Despite Mr. Sanders impressive address, there were two telling omissions in his speech. They were:
- He did not ask his supporters to help reelect a Democratic House and elect a Democratic Senate. This was especially troubling given Mr. Sanders was speaking in Arizona where Democrat Mark Kelly is looking to defeat Martha McSally in their Senate race this year. A President needs a Senate of his own party to do things like confirm his or her Supreme Court Nominations. It can not only be about the Presidency.
- He did not tell the crowd how he would pass his agenda, especially in a Senate that has Democratic Centrists like Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin in it.
Despite the above exclusions, tonight demonstrated that if Joe Biden does win the nomination, he can only unite the Democrats and be the next President of the United States by bringing in Mr. Sanders and reach an amicable accommodation with him and the people that are devoted to the Vermont Senator.
It is important that, as Mr. Sanders said this evening, that the loser in this now two-person race, immediately support the victor, unite the party, and as the Vermont Senator said at the beginning of his speech “teach Mr. Trump a lesson in Democracy and make him a one-term President.”