By Allison Nekola & Kayla Dougherty – Co-Editor-in-Chief & 1851 Staff
Bernie Sanders, senator of Vermont, dubbed the “surprise threat” at the first Demo- cratic Debate, hosted the largest ever Democratic presidential rally on October 3 at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center to promote his presidential candidacy. His progressive policies helped his campaign gain momentum. Sanders is running for the 2016 Presidential election as a Democrat, but is a socialist.
Sanders attracted over 25,000 people to the rally, more than double Obama’s 2007 Bos- ton rally of 10,000 individuals. So many support- ers showed that a crowd resorted to watching his speech on screens outside the center, despite the freezing cold, after being turned away because the building reached maximum capacity.
Symone Sanders, national communications director (no relation), introduced Karen Hig- gins, co-president of National Nurses United, the first union to declare support for Sanders. She believes that Sanders will help “break the glass ceiling, and break the class ceiling.”
Jillian Breslford, a local nursing student, took the stage to show support for Sanders’ plan to ensure free tuition in public colleges.
Jimmy O’Brien, president of the Boston Carmen’s Union, commended Sanders’ opposi- tion to privatizing the MBTA in Boston, saying it would only worsen the situation. Bill McKibben, a climate change activist, agreed saying, “Bernie is a rare politician who says what he means, and means what he says.”
Sanders took the stage at 6:40 p.m. and announced he is running a “people’s campaign.” He went on to explain why he has no super Political Action Committees (PAC) saying, “I don’t represent the agenda of the billionaire class or of corporate America, and I don’t want their money.”
He has raised $40.2 million in his campaign with no help from billionaires, a focal point in his crusade against the wealth inequality in the United States.
“He’s passionate,” senior Mandy Abbatiello said, who attented. “He sticks to what he believes in and he speaks in a way I can understand.”
His goals include making the economy fair to the working and middle class while raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour. “It’s not a leftist extreme ideal that a person who works 40 hours a week deserves a livable wage,” said Sanders.
Sanders plans to reform healthcare, educa- tion, and the prison system, saying, “We spend $80 million a year locking people up. Let’s invest in education and stop investing in prison.”
“The debate is over. Climate change is real. A major political party cannot deny science,” said Sanders, taking a stab at the GOP. He hopes to make sustainability a national value.
While GOP candidates speak ill of immi- grants, Sanders said, “[We cannot] turn our backs on immigrants. We need to end their exploita- tion, and ease the path to citizenship.”
Millennials and Generation Z have gravi- tated towards Sanders’ blunt opposition to cor- ruption in politics and urge to end institutional
racism, sexism, and LGBT discrimination. Colleges in the Boston area are taking no- tice and showing their support, seen in the sig- nificant amount of Lasers who attended the rally and “debate parties” hosted to watch and discuss the Democratic Debate.
The party’s target audience was college students, but people of all ages attended. Every- one sat anxiously as the countdown clock slowly struck zero.
Applause echoed through the bar as Sanders took the stage, even from guests who supported an opposing party.
A Boston College law student, Patrick said, “I’ve followed Hillary’s career and have plans to vote for her, but I came to sup- port Sanders because I believe in his morals and values.”
Sanders spoke articulately and pas- sionately about the issues he plans to fix. At this point it is safe to say, even support- ers of opposing parties are starting to “feel the Bern.”
The first Democratic Debate was held Tuesday, October 13 in Las Vegas, NV. Students throughout Metro Boston collaborated with local bars to reserve areas dedicated to good political conversation and a common space for like-mind- ed individuals to watch the debate together.
The “debate parties” took place in cities like Brighton and Allston, but the closest in prox- imity to Lasell was hosted at Donahue’s Bar in Watertown. Some perks of the gathering were free Sanders swag items such as buttons, water bottles, and bumper stickers. Five flat screen tele- visions all tuned in to the debate, and there was great conversation among peers.