‘Enough is enough’

Western Courier Decision 2016 coverage


Nicholas Stewart

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont speaks at Richardson Elementary School in Fort Madison, Iowa on a tour through the caucus states for his 2016 presidential campaign. Sanders spoke about equality, changing the federal minimum wage, net neutrality, the price of college tuition, climate change and much more.

Erika Ward, News Editor

 On a tour through the caucus states, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders stopped at Richardson Elementary School in Fort Madison, Iowa on Sunday, Oct. 18 for his 2016 presidential campaign rally.

 “It turns out that the American people want to see some profound changes with our economy and with the way we do politics in America,” Sanders said.  “And it turns out that millions of Americans do want to see a political revolution, which is what this campaign is doing.”

 Sanders, known for being a liberal-social Democrat, touched on what he believes to be the biggest national security threat in America: climate change.

 “The scientists tell us that we have a short window of opportunity in order to prevent cataclysmic problems and dangers to our entire planet,” Sanders said.  “Severe drought, severe flooding, extreme weather disturbances, acidification of the ocean, rising sea levels in coastal areas.”

 “What the CIA tells us is that people around the world don’t have water to drink or land to grow their food on, there will be more international consequences,” Sanders continued. “That’s where we’re at.  So it seems to me, we have the moral responsibility to lead the world, to work with China and Russia and India and other countries, in transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels to energy efficiency and sustainable energy.”

 Sanders also spoke about youth unemployment. Youth unemployment, Sanders defined, is young high school graduates who are unable to find full-time work.

 “I asked for a study,” Sanders said.  “The study was ‘Tell me what real unemployment and underemployment is for high school graduates — not dropouts — kids who graduated between the ages of 17 and 20.’  This is what they said: For white kids real unemployment and underemployment (is) 33 percent.  For Latino kids, 36 percent.  For average American kids, 51 percent.”

 Sanders believes that the high price of a college education is unfair to not only the potential students, but to our economy as well.

 “All of you are aware that we live in a highly competitive global economy,” Sanders continued.  “If our economy is going to be well-rounded and in the future, we need to have the best educated workforce in the world.  It makes zero sense to me, in fact it’s almost incomprehensible, that we have hundreds of thousands of bright young people who are qualified to go to college (but don’t) for one reason: Their family lacks the funds.”

 Another issue that Sanders believes is of the utmost importance is the issue of Citizen’s United, a nonprofit organization that — according to its mission statement — is supposed to be “dedicated to restoring our government to citizens’ control.”

 “No nominee of mine for the United States Supreme Court will get that nomination unless he or she is very clear on saying that they will vote to overturn Citizen’s United,” Sanders said.

 Sanders is also very against voter suppression and large campaign contributions from the wealthy in the country.  Multiple times through his speech, Sanders spoke out against the brothers Charles and David Koch, who are in control of Koch industries and known for influencing different lobbying organizations.

 “Right now, there are families like the Koch brothers, the second wealthiest family in America, they’ve spent $900 million on this campaign,” Sanders said.  “Now if politics is so stupid and so irrelevant, why is the second wealthiest family in America going to spend $900 million?  Because they know that who controls the government is enormously important.”

 Sanders believes that a way to combat the issue of corporations buying elections is by holding public-funded elections.

 “What that means is simple,” Sanders said.  “If there are people, whether they’re conservative, moderate, progressive, whatever they may be, and they want to get involved in the political process, I want to see them get involved without having to beg wealthy people with campaign contributions.”

 While using a socialist approach to leadership, Sanders said that what he truly believes in is democracy.

 “I am a passionate believer in democracy,” Sanders said.  “I really do love democracy.  I love meetings like this.  I like seeing people arguing with each other.  That’s what democracy is about, you treat each other with respect.”

 The rally totaled a headcount of 533 people, more than the capacity for the gymnasium Sanders was speaking in.  Those who couldn’t fit in the gym were placed in an overflow room, where Sanders could still be heard.

 Sanders also touched on issues with equality, increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 over the next few years, net neutrality and the high rates of imprisonment in the United States.

 “I’m not here to say ‘Elect me president, I’m going to do all of these things,’” Sanders said.  “I’m saying ‘Elect me president, and the day after I’m going to come back to you because we, together, are going to have to stand up to Wall Street.”