Bernie Sanders Begins
The Fight For Arizona
Over 7,000 Supporters Amassed At The Phoenix Convention Center Tuesday To Hear Democratic Presidential Hopeful Bernie Sanders Speak Ahead of Arizona’s Primary March 22
Bernie Sanders at his rally in Phoenix on March 15, 2016.
By Ryan Scott
Modern Times Magazine
March 16, 2016 — On a night that included five states’ presidential primaries and Republican Marco Rubio’s decision to finally call it quits on his campaign for President, Democrat Bernie Sanders was busy stirring up a crowd of thousands of supporters Tuesday in Phoenix during a campaign rally at the Phoenix Convention Center.
"Phoenix, are you ready for a political revolution? Are you tired of a handful of billionaires running our economy? Well, if you are you’ve come to the right place!" Sanders shouted with what seemed to be a bit of a horse, tired voice. Regardless, the sentiment elicited massive cheers from the crowd, which was dominated by young people — many of whom didn’t even appear to be old enough to vote.
Sanders’ speech was largely ignored by the national media Tuesday night in favor of Trump and other primary results coverage, but that didn’t stop him from riling up Phoenix attendees and continuing his tirade against Wall Street, outsourcing, equality, raising the minimum wage and the Walton family.
“It is unacceptable to me that the wealthiest 20 people (in America) own more wealth than the bottom half of America. Turns out the the wealthiest family in America, who owns Wal-Mart, pays their workers wages that are so low, many of those workers have to go on Medicaid and food stamps in order to survive,” Sanders said to resounding and booming boos from the audience.
He also tackled America’s deteriorating infrastructure.
“In the United States of America, we should have a first class infrastructure and that is what we’re gonna build,” Sanders said. He added that part of his plan would consist of putting $1 trillion into infrastructure that would in turn create millions of decent paying jobs
Without question though, the largest reaction of the night came when Sanders went on a rant about fixing the “broken criminal justice system,” and specifically took on the topics of decriminalizing marijuana and racial inequality.
“America should not have more people in jail than any other country on Earth. We should not be spending $80 billion a year locking up 2.2 million Americans, disproportionately African American, Latino and Native American,” Sanders said. “We need to rethink the so called ‘War on Drugs.’ Over the years too many lives have been negatively impacted through arrests for possession of marijuana. Right now at the federal level, marijuana is considered a Schedule I Drug under the Federal Controlled Substance Act right alongside heroin...all of you know that heroin is a killer drug and that is why I’m going to introduce legislation to take marijuana out of the Federal Controlled Substance act.”
He finished his point by saying that drug addiction is not a criminal issue, but rather a health issue.
The Senator also made a large point about police officers not shooting unarmed citizens, calling for the demilitarization of police forces across the country and noting that police forces should reflect the diversity of the public that they are serving.
Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, was busy winning the Florida and Ohio primaries. Though she has a lead of more than 300 pledged delegates on Sanders, that fact hasn’t seemed to phase him. He once again noted that his campaign has an average contribution of $27 and does not have a Super PAC, whereas Clinton does have a Super PAC and has also accepted large donations from Wall Street.
Sanders also made time to send a few jabs Donald Trump’s way, and the crowd was very clearly on his side in that endeavor.
“What Trump is about and what other demigods have always been about is scapegoating minorities, turning one group against another group, but we are too smart to fall for that,” Sanders said.
Sanders shouted when driving home points about providing universal healthcare, free college tuition, paid maternity leave and raising the national minimum wage to $15 an hour. He cited other countries in the world such as Germany and Canada as examples and drove the point home multiple times that if they are capable, then the U.S. should be as well.
“If they can do it, we can do it,” he said.
Sanders rounded out his speech by driving home his belief that true change is possible if people unite under a cause.
“Do not settle for the status quo when the status quo is broken. Don’t tell me that we cannot have a political system in which we have one of the highest voter turnout rates in the world, rather than one of the lowest,” said Sanders. “We can make real change but we don’t make change if they divide us up...so if we stand together there is nothing that we cannot accomplish.”
Arizona will vote for their presidential preference on March 22. Sanders confidently finished his speech by saying “We will win if the voter turnout is high, so let's make it high.” Winning Arizona will be an uphill battle for Sanders as a recent poll by Westgroup Research gives Hillary Clinton a double-digit lead over Sanders. As it is with all Democrat primaries, delegates are awarded to candidates proportionally to the amount of votes they receive.
The GOP, however, awards the top vote getter all of the delegates.
Thousands of people in the crowd had gathered at the convention center hours earlier, as the doors for the event were scheduled to open at 1 p.m. By 2 p.m., there were lines wrapped around the building in every direction. Sanders didn’t take the stage until shortly after 6 p.m.
During the long wait, Grammy-nominated artist Makana was brought up to serenade the crowd and declare his support for the Vermont Senator. He played a song which he wrote for Sanders called “Fire Is Ours,” which he managed to fit into the overwhelmingly hash-tagged slogan “Feel the Bern.”
By the time Sanders finally hit the stage, the crowd had been charged up after hours of chanting his name and a soundtrack of tunes like “Uprising” by Muse and “Power To The People” by John Lennon and it seemed almost as if the wait was inconsequential.
The large crowd was beyond ecstatic to see a guy who very well may be the hippest 74-year-old white man in the world.
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