The myth that America is made up of only red and blue was smashed by Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who drew 13,200 supporters during two campaign stops in Republican-dominated Texas.
Video of Sanders in Houston:
Via a statement from the Sanders campaign:
There was another big Texas turnout Sunday evening for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders who brought his Democratic Party presidential campaign to a packed arena at the University of Houston hours after an even bigger mid-day rally in Dallas.
A crowd of some 5,200 pumped-up, mostly-young people filled the university arena here. Earlier in the day, another 8,000 Texans packed a Dallas hotel.
And here in Houston, Sanders brought up the death last Monday of Sandra Bland, a young African-American woman found dead in her Waller County jail cell 60 miles northwest of Houston. The 28-year-old from suburban Chicago had been arrested July 10 after a routine traffic stop. The medical examiner said her death was a suicide. Bland’s family disputes the finding.
“I wish that in the year 2015, I could tell you that we have eliminated racism in our country but you all know that is not true,” Sanders said.
In citing the death of Bland, Sanders also mentioned other recent deaths of African-Americans in police custody. Eric Garner died one year ago after a New York City a police officer put him in a chokehold. Freddie Gray was a 25-year-old African-American who died last April while being transported in a Baltimore Police van. Tamir Rice was 12 years old when he was shot and killed in 2014 by two police officers in Cleveland, Ohio.
“These are the cases that you have heard about recently but anyone who thinks this has not been going on decade after decade would be very wrong,” Sanders said. “It is unacceptable that police officers beat up people or kill people. If they do that, they have got to be held accountable.”
After the debacle at Netroots Nation, (which more people need to be discussing how the event was so poorly organized and out of control as to allow hecklers to take the stage and seize the microphone. Netroots organizers are lucky that the people involved were Black Lives Matter and not someone intent on harming a presidential candidate), it was good to see Sanders mention the issue of police brutality and the targeting of African-Americans in his remarks.
What the huge crowds in Texas demonstrated was that there are plenty of liberals and Democrats in red states like Texas, who honestly tend to be ignored by the Democratic Party. It isn’t fair to assume that a state like Texas is all Republican and downplay needs of liberals and Democrats in the state.
Bernie Sanders took his message to the heart of the Republican-dominated territory, and tens of thousands came out to see him. Democrats may not be able to turn the state blue yet, but the crowds for Sanders were encouraging.
The message from the Sanders events is that if Democrats campaign there, they will come.
Jason is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association