Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders spoke at the University of Washington’s Hec Edmundson Pavilion on Saturday, August 8th, to a record-breaking 15,000 people. Senator Sanders was also able to address the 3,000 unable to enter outside the pavilion before entering the stadium bustling with eager supporters.
Earlier the same day, Senator Sanders conducted a smaller rally at Westlake Park that was cut short by “Black Lives Matter” protestors. Both him and the lawmakers before him took the time to declare that “black lives do matter”, a quote by the opening spokesperson of the rally.
The senator stated,“No president will fight harder to end institutional racism and reform criminal justice system [than myself]”, which was met with roaring applause.
Senator Sanders touched on many topics such as poverty in the United States, family values, tuition-free college, and the need to put an end to the systemic racism in America. However, a major focus of the rally was “Big money in big corporations”. He claims he will make a country for the “99%” and not for the top “two-tenths of the one percent”, a figure he used many times throughout his speech.
Soon after, he mentioned the “Koch Brothers”, two of the wealthiest people in the world. Their names were met with foul remarks and loud boos. One participant at the rally shouted, “They belong in jail!” After the audience exhibited an animated disapproval of the brothers, Sanders promised that he will assure that merit on a political level will be based on a person’s ideas, not how much money their family makes. He also stated that while Republican candidates are getting paid off by billionaires, he has “the single highest number of individual donors out of any candidate”, which sent the crowd into an uproar of approval.
Sanders proceeded to talk about the United States as an oligarchy, and how the republican presidential candidates were attempting to silence those who disagree with their ideas in order to put the odds in their favor. Sanders mentioned that he has run for election many times: “…Sometimes I lose, sometimes I win. But never has it occurred to me to silence those who disagree with my ideas.” He then commented on the behavior of the Republicans who do exercise this tactic by saying, “Those are political cowards who don’t have the guts to defend their ideas.”
None of the senator’s ideas were received poorly. Junior Callan Spafford said that, “[Sander’s] honesty and connection to the issues is refreshing to see in politics, especially at a presidential level.” Holding true to Seattle tradition, the feedback from the crowd was blaring and excited. However, none more so than when he mentioned the incarceration of over two million people, and other problems he feels are necessary to address in relation to education in the United States. “It makes more sense to me”, the senator explained, “to invest in jobs and education for our kids rather than jail and incarceration”. Even before he concluded that section of his speech, the crowd erupted into applause, more than at any other point in the rally.
“No president can do it alone,” Sanders affirmed, ”We need to do it together.”
Featured Photo: Sanders waves at the frenzied crowd packed in the Hec Edmundson Pavilion. Photo by Conor Courtney