Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders Rallies in Norfolk
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders held a spirited rally at the Norfolk Scope Arena on Tuesday, Feb. 23 at noon where a large and noticeably young crowd of around 4,000 showed up to hear the Vermont senator speak. His rally at the Scope comes just ahead of the March 1 presidential primary in Virginia.
Before Sanders took the podium, the energetic crowd broke into periodic chants of “Feel the Bern” while a soundtrack that included David Bowie, Simon & Garfunkel and John Lennon played over the loudspeakers.
When the progressive Sanders finally spoke, he wasted no time in touching on the main issues he wants to address as president.
“In 2016, when we talk about college education, we need to make it tuition free.” – Bernie Sanders
“Are you guys ready for a radical idea?” Sanders asked to resounding cheers from the crowd. “I knew you would be.”
“This is a moment in American history where we have to learn from the past. We need to push forward in a way that will make some people very, very uncomfortable,” Sanders said.
Sanders has often pointed out in his campaign that he does not accept contributions from billionaires or super PACs like his opponent Hillary Clinton.
“I’m not indebted to Wall Street. I’m not indebted to billionaires. I am indebted to you,” Sanders said, as the crowd cheered loudly.
This grassroots idealism has drawn in many young voters and others who want a change in American politics.
“He doesn’t take money from billionaires, and he has been consistent for 35 years. I like his courage, integrity and credibility,” Drew Lucas said. He’s 31 from Richmond, VA and drove to Norfolk to attend the rally.
“He is for the people, and he is honest and genuine,” Joseph Sammaa, 18 of Virginia Beach, VA, said.
Sanders also highlighted another pillar of his platform, which is college education reform. Sanders plans to pay for this with a speculation tax on Wall Street and also wants to lower the interest rates for student loans and to refinance existing student loans to the lowest interest rate possible.
“In 2016, when we talk about college education, we need to make it tuition free,” Sanders said. “We do not believe that people should be punished because they want a good education.”
Sanders also touched on his economic policy and how he wants to relieve the burdened middle class.
“We want an economy that works for working families, not just the 1%,” Sanders said. “We are asking the wealthiest people to pay their fair share. $7.25 an hour is a starving wage. We want to raise it to a living wage of $15 an hour.”
This message resonates with many supporters of Sanders, especially middle-class voters.
“We experienced what Wall Street did. We lost our home in the crash,” Terry and Karin Earwood of Gloucester, VA said. “We need someone to get in there and make change.”
In addition, Sanders talked about how he wants to reform healthcare to a single-payer system.
“Yes, I believe that healthcare is a right for all people,” he said. “Our single-payer healthcare system will lower costs by $5,000 for middle-class Americans.”
Sanders addressed the problem of racism in America, which he said cannot be ignored. He cited how African-Americans are incarcerated more than any other ethnic group in America.
“Segregation and racism is not what this country is about,” he said.“Change takes place when people outgrow the status quo.”
Sanders also applied this message to the gay rights movement and how the American people are now accepting others more than ever before.
But his main message and attitude at the rally was that change cannot happen alone and that it was up to the American people to enact it.
“Change never comes from the top down, it comes from the bottom up,” he said. “We are going to create a government that represents us all. We can win here in Virginia if people come out to vote. So please come out. Help us win.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Bernie Sanders at the Norfolk Scope
SOCIAL MEDIA RECAP: Bernie Sanders Rally