Sanders Reaches Out to Millennials at YSU Rally

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders urged supporters to not only vote for Hillary Clinton in next Tuesday’s general election but to be prepared to work the day after.

Sanders, I-Vt., stumped for the Democratic nominee during a midday rally in a gymnasium at Youngstown State University’s Stambaugh Stadium.

A campaign spokesman cited the fire marshal in reporting 340 people attended the event.

Sanders, who Clinton bested in a hard-fought primary campaign for the Democratic nomination, stressed early in his remarks that politics isn’t about Clinton or Republican nominee Donald Trump or their families.

“It’s about you. It’s about the middle class of this country,” he said.

He also advised the crowd, many of whom were college age, that politics isn’t just about Election Day. “Politics is about building a movement of millions of people, and I suspect that movement will be heavily influenced by the younger generation who have a new vision of America,” he said.

Sanders outlined several issues on which he and Clinton agree and which they stand in opposition to policies supported by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. They include increasing the federal minimum wage, equal pay for women, paid parental leave following birth, encouraging labor unions, making public colleges and universities tuition-free and allowing students to refinance their existing college debt, and guaranteed health care.

“We have got to fight for health care being a right for all the people, not a privilege,” he said.

Clinton also believes in science and public policy should be developed based on scientific evidence. Trump has said climate change is “a hoax emanating from China,” Sanders said.

Unless climate change is addressed, there will be more flooding, more drought and more international conflict as people fight for limited resources such as land and water.

Sanders said what bothers him the most about Trump is that he made bigotry the cornerstone of his campaign, and he reminded the audience that the GOP candidate was the leader of the “birther movement” to “undermine the legitimacy of the first African-American president of this country.”

The Vermont senator said Republicans are suffering from amnesia and “want us to forget where we were eight years ago,” before Obama was elected. Then the United States was shedding 800,000 per month, running a $1.4 trillion deficit and the financial system was on the verge of collapse.

“Any objective observer will tell you we are much better off than we were eight years ago. Thank you, President Obama,” he said. “And he had to do that against an unprecedented level of Republican obstruction.”

He criticized the media for covering the election as though it was a popularity contest or a race for senior class president.

He also warned that the middle class has shrank over the past 40 years, with more than 43 million people now living in poverty, and that the country is moving toward an “oligarchical form of society,” a result of the Citizens United decision that critics charge increased the influence of large donors in politics. “We have got to overturn this awful Citizens United Supreme Court decision,” a position he shares with Clinton and a majority of Americans, he said.

Evelyn Koch, a YSU student who backed Sanders in the primary and introduced him at Thursday’s event, said that after Sanders lost she knew that if she wanted any of his ideas to be enacted she would have to vote for someone who was willing to compromise “as opposed to wanting to throw his ideas out completely.”

Koch, of Omaha, Neb., noted that cost was one of the major factors when she was considering where to attend college. The fact that Clinton has combined her ideas about college affordability with those of Sanders “shows Bernie supporters like me that she doesn’t just want your vote, but rather she wants us to have a voice,” she remarked.

Getting to introduce Sanders “was both terrifying and exciting,” she said.

Kayla Zoccole of Hubbard, a YSU senior, said attending events like these are good for students. “It’s really awesome to hear him speak and be so passionate about everything he talks about,” she said.

Like Koch, she supported Sanders in the primary but will vote for Clinton. “Because he supports her, I support her as well,” she said.

Mitch Joseph of Ellsworth Township, who was wearing his T-shirt from Sanders’ campaign, said a lot of what Sanders has to say “reverberates well” with his thinking. He acknowledged some surprise at Trump’s apparent local support, particularly given “the big hole” the economy was in before Obama took office.

Thousands of local Democrats switched party affiliation during the primary to vote for Trump.

Seth Unger, Ohio communications director for the Trump campaign, said in an email Thursday he was surprised Sanders still supports Clinton given the revelations that she and former CNN commentator Donna Brazile were sharing information prior to the debates and the Democratic National Committee “was conspiring against him” to rig the primary for Clinton.

“Bernie Sanders is out of touch with Ohio, because he supports Hillary Clinton’s plans to double-down on the failed Obamacare experiment, which is hammering our residents with rate hikes and sub-standard care,” Unger continued.

“There is zero enthusiasm among Millennials who supported Bernie Sanders to be a cog in the corrupt pay-to-play political machine that Hillary Clinton has been building for the last 30 years, and that’s why they will support Mr. Trump’s movement to drain the swamp in Washington.”

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.