Thousands of supporters came out to the Kohls Center April 3 for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’, D-Vermont, third and final visit to Madison before the April 5 Wisconsin primary.
Sanders used his last visit to discuss a majority of the issues, ranging from reforms in healthcare and public education to addressing income inequality. This was the senator’s third stop in Madison in nine days.
Before his speech, a group of different artists and politicians came out to speak on the presidential candidate’s behalf.
Mayor Paul Soglin opened the event, pointing to Sanders’ consistent background in politics as one of his greatest qualities he can bring to the presidency.
“Do you want a candidate, a president who participated most of his adult life creating this tragedy [that is the financial mess] and feeding of the hard labor of others? Who was selfish for much of his adult life, or do you want a president who from early on, in his college days to now, has got foresight, understanding and has always worked for equity and for fairness?” Soglin said.
Sanders rally draws thousands in Madison ahead of April primaryBasking in double wins in Alaska and Washington and speaking to thousands, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont, exuded the confidence of Read…
Former Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton, who served in the Wisconsin Legislature from 2003 to 2011, commended Sanders’ for his unwillingness to accept campaign donations from large corporations and super PACs. Describing him as a candidate that “can’t be bought,” she said she believes his election to office can restore the public’s faith in elected officials.
The two main speakers of the event before Sanders — actresses Shailene Woodley and Rosario Dawson — touched on the importance of turning out to vote and continuing to discuss the issues that face the nation. They noted social media as a means of sparking conversation and inciting change.
“Social media gives us a megaphone to demand what we want,” Woodley said.
Using the 2008 election as an example, Dawson reminded the crowd that despite the large grassroots mobilization that took place during that election year, people still didn’t show up to vote during the primary season. She pleaded to the crowd to take the opportunity to not only vote for the presidency April 5, but to participate in the Supreme Court elections as well.
The final speaker before Sanders, Linda Sarsour — a Palestinian Muslim woman who also grew up in Brooklyn — passionately spoke about the candidate’s dedication to social justice. She jokingly mentioned the humor in that the person who inspired her was a 74-year-old white, Jewish male, before praising Sanders for his consistency and integrity.
“Sanders has welcomed all people in his campaign,” Sarsour said. “He sees all of us and he accepts all of us in everything that we bring to the table.”
When it was finally Sanders’ time to speak, he was greeted by joyful chants of his name from an enthusiastic crowd.
During his time on stage, he mainly discussed domestic issues, an aspect of his platform that attendee Samantha Pierce enjoyed.
“We need to focus more on the problems that are affecting us at home,” Pierce said.
The Madison resident said Sanders’ free tuition plan appealed to her, as having recently graduating with a masters degree left her with student debt.
The topic of student debt was obviously present among the majority college-aged crowd, with Sanders receiving a standing ovation when he questioned why young people are “getting punished for getting an education.” When he asked if anyone in the crowd was facing student debt, nearly all of the hands in the Kohl Center shot up.
Discussing student debt and free college tuition were not the only ways Sanders appealed to the Wisconsin crowd. He received countless praise and applause for his criticism of Gov. Scott Walker and Republican front runner Donald Trump.
Claiming this election needs a candidate that is the “opposite of Walker,” Sanders listed some of Walker’s policies and actions during his governance, and promptly disagreed with them.
Before waving goodbye to the crowd, Sanders reminded everyone that if there is a large voter turnout, “we” will win, But if there is a low voter turnout, “we” will lose.
“Let us have the largest voter turnout in Wisconsin primary history,” Sanders said.