Liberal Sanders draws sizable crowd in conservative country
SHELDON, Iowa -- In an area known for its conservative political leanings, Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders was greeted by a standing-room only crowd of nearly 180 people Friday morning in the Sheldon Community Center.
SHELDON, Iowa - In an area known for its conservative political leanings, Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders was greeted by a standing-room only crowd of nearly 180 people Friday morning in the Sheldon Community Center.
The stop marked one of a few appearances by Sanders in Iowa on the eve of Independence Day.
Sanders, who represents Vermont in the U.S. Senate, opened his comments by speaking of how the country needs to band together on common issues rather than remain divided by polarizing topics.
“I am running for president of the United States with the full understanding, and I think I am the only candidate that will tell you this, that nobody, not the best person in the world - not Bernie Sanders or anybody else can - solve the enormous problems facing this country alone,” Sanders began.
“Essentially what we need is a revitalization of American democracy - what I call a political revolution - in which people begin to understand that if we become actively involved in the political process, that if we stand together and not let this issue or that issue divide us up, we can make profound changes in this country,” Sanders said.
Sanders touched on national poverty and wealth inequality issues.
“The first issue at the top of my list is income and wealth inequality,” Sanders said. “What that means from a moral perspective is are we content as a nation in which the top one-tenth of 1 percent owns about as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent?
“Here’s the truth: There has been a massive redistribution of wealth in this country in the last 30 years. The problem is it has gone from working families and the middle class to the top one-tenth of 1 percent.”
Sanders touched on providing free state college education to all students. Free higher education is already the norm in several industrial countries around the globe, he said, adding that in addition to aiding the economy, the promise of a free education would offer something for students to aspire to in families that cannot afford college tuition.
“All of you are aware that we live in a very competitive global economy, and to succeed in the global economy, we need the best educated workforce possible,” Sanders said. “That’s kind of a no-brainer.
“And yet, what’s happening in America today .... in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, we have hundreds of thousands of bright, young people who have done well in school, who have ambition who want to go to college. They cannot go to college because their families cannot afford it. To me, that seems very unfair for these young people who want to make it into the middle class. But, more specifically, it is an absurd policy with regard to the future of our economy.”
In addition to free tuition, Sanders said current student loan debt should be able to be refinanced at lower interest rates. Sanders then offered his proposal for paying for free college education.
“People say, they say, ‘Well Bernie, this is an expensive proposition.’ It is an expensive proposition. ‘How are you going to fund it?’ I’ll tell you how we’re going to fund it. We’re going to put a tax on Wall Street speculation,” Sanders explained.
Sanders touched upon “family values,” a topic he acknowledge to be commonly addressed regularly by his Republican opponents. In addition to favoring marriage equality, Sanders wants to fund paid family medical leave for all Americans to use when a child is born.
“Let’s talk now about sensible family values that really work for families. … The United States of America is the only major country on Earth that does not provide paid family and medical leave. … In every major country on Earth, what governments have said is that when you have a baby, regardless of the income of your family, you as a Mom and as a Dad have a right to spend time with your baby in the first weeks and months of that baby’s life,” Sanders expressed.
Sanders said in America, poor or middle class families often have to return to work if the parents cannot afford unpaid leave from their jobs.
“That is exactly opposite to what a family value should be,” he said. “That is why I will fight for 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, so moms and dads can stay home with their newborn babies.”
Following his appearance in Sheldon, Sanders traveled for a stop in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Friday evening. On Saturday he marched in two Iowa parades - one in Creston, and the other in Waukee.