At a press conference today concerning his upcoming rally in Madison, Wisconsin, at Veterans Memorial Coliseum at Alliant Energy Center, Bernie Sanders spoke of his campaign and his political platform.
He stressed that though he has had large turnouts all over the country, the Madison rally may be possibly the largest turnout his campaign has had so far, with over 9500 RSVPs. As he said, people are anxious to hear about truth and reality, about what is happening in the American economy today.
He stressed that,
- The middle class is disappearing, suffering through longer hours and lower wages;
- That the largest corporations and people on top are doing “phenomenally well”;
- That this process is not sustainable, that it is “grotesque” that the top 1/10 of 1% own as much wealth as bottom 90%;
- That there is more inequality than any industrialized country on earth and that the American people want a candidate who will stand up to the billionaire class.
He stressed that America needs a progressive agenda and that he expects his message will be well received in Wisconsin, which has a “long, long history…of being one of the most progressive states in America.”
His message to the people of Wisconsin is that we are seeing a rebirth of a strong progressive movement. He said he thinks the American people are “sick and tired of a political and economic system that benefits the wealthy and the powerful at the expensive of the vast majority of the American people.” People, he said, “have had enough.” They want new economics and new politics.
He says he stands opposed to Governor Walker’s agenda and that people need leadership that stands up for working families and takes on big money interests. He would, he stressed, strengthen trade union movement, not break it. The wealthy and powerful must pay fair share of taxes.
Sanders expressed support for rebuilding crumbling infrastructure, raising the minimum wage to $15/hour, achieving pay equity for women, trade policies which will protect, not outsource American jobs, correcting the “horrendous” campaign finance system “left to us by Citizens United,” and did not neglect the global crisis of climate change and a desire to transform our energy system.
These are all hot-button issues for liberals and progressives and, of course, strongly opposed by the Republican agenda for America.
Asked how he will compete with Hillary Clinton (significantly, no one asked how he would compete with any of the Republican candidates), he admitted that if the election were held today, he would not win. “Half the American people don’t even know who Bernie Sanders is or what his views are,” he said.
As for competing financially with Clinton, he stressed that his campaign has done very well but “very, very differently” than other campaigns. He has, he said, collected donations from 200,000 Americans in fifty states, and that the average contribution is a “modest” $37. He is, he said, “absolutely” at a financial disadvantage and “will be heavily outspent.” This will be, he stressed, a grass-roots campaign.
Asked about women’s health, Sanders said that “It goes without saying I have a 100% pro-choice voting record”; it is “clearly a no-brainer, he continued, that women in this country have a right to control their own bodies” and that government should not be making these decisions for them. He is, he said, a strong supporter of women’s right to choose.
It is clear that the Sanders campaign is riding a wave of success into Wisconsin and on into Minnesota and Iowa. Though neglected by the mainstream media and political talk shows, polling numbers show that he has strong support on the left and that he is capable of holding his own with front-runner Hillary Clinton.