Bernie Sanders rallies voters before Missouri primariesBernie Sanders rallies voters before Missouri primariesBernie Sanders rallies voters before Missouri primariesBernie Sanders rallies voters before Missouri primariesBernie Sanders rallies voters before Missouri primariesBernie Sanders rallies voters before Missouri primaries

Bernie Sanders rallies voters before Missouri primaries

By Lauren Petterson and Danielle Katz

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders visited Missouri State University to rally supporters prior to the Missouri presidential primaries.

The crowd vocally supported Sanders’ platform. With security from the Secret Service and police officers, the rally was peaceful. Attendees only disrupted Sanders’ speech by shouting with support.

Sanders started to talk about how he believes the American economy is “rigged,” and quickly received a passionate response from supporters.

An attendee shouted, “We’re getting screwed!”

Sanders repeated the statement and went on to explain that the richest one-tenth of a percent of people in America have almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. Wealth inequality was one of the main problems that Sanders focused on during his speech to Missourians.

He cited Walmart as America’s biggest welfare dependent. Sanders explained that many Walmart employees have to use government welfare programs, such as SNAP- also known as food stamps- to subsidize their wages. Sanders called upon the wealthiest family in America, the Walton family, to start paying their employees livable wages.

He emphasized his plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Sanders and his supporters applauded cities on the west coast, such as San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles, for already establishing this minimum wage raise.

In Sanders’ speech, he focused on equity. He reminded the audience that just 100 years ago, women did not have the right to vote. Sanders stated that there is still gender inequity in America, and said pay equality for women would need the support of both genders.

“I know that every man in this room will stand with the women in the fight for pay equity,” Sanders said.

Sanders also emphasized that he listens to young people as part of his campaign. One of his main selling points to young voters was access to higher education. Sanders said that now, a college degree is worth as much as a high school degree was 50 years ago.

College education comes at a high price for some students. Sanders said he spoke to people across the country who were in tens of thousands of dollars in debt after graduating from college. These same people are now trying to pay off their debt with professions in the medical field.

Sanders suggested free college tuition at public universities. He recognized that many people are questioning how this would be possible, but said this would be funded by taxing Wall Street speculation.

He compared settlements between the U.S. government and Goldman Sachs to youth having marijuana violations on their permanent records. Sanders said this comparison proves flaws in the U.S. legal system. According to Sanders, America is the wealthiest country in the world, but it has the highest incarceration levels out of any other country.

He also brought up that marijuana and heroin are in the same drug classification by the government, even though most researchers agree that marijuana does not have the same harmful effects that heroin has.

Sanders boasted about his involvement in the Affordable Care Act. He said America is the only country in the industrialized world that does not guarantee its citizens universal healthcare. For Sanders, the Affordable Care Act is not enough to ensure health care for Americans. He said certain medications and procedures are still not affordable in America. He gave an example of people who travelled across the border to Canada for cancer medication in the ’90s. The cancer medication in Canada cost 10 percent of what the same exact pill cost in America.

With only two democrats left in the primaries, Sanders focused on the differences between Hillary Clinton and him. He used his differences with Clinton to talk about campaign funding law and super PACs. Clinton has several super PACs, while individual contributions from working class citizens mainly fund Sanders’ campaign. Sanders said he does not believe in candidates receiving funding from large corporations or super PACs.

Before Sanders arrived, protesters were keen with this idea. They chanted, “Bernie Sanders has our back. We don’t need a super PAC.”

Since Sanders’ campaign began in 2015, 5 million people have donated to the campaign, with an average donation of $27.

Other frontrunners in presidential elections have not replicated this form of campaign funding. This follows Sanders’ theme of having a campaign that differs from other presidential candidates.

“This campaign is about thinking outside of the status quo, thinking outside of the box,” Sanders said.

With the Missouri primaries just a few days away, Sanders called upon Missouri voters to get out to the polls on Tuesday and keep up their campaign efforts. Sanders referenced conservatism in Missouri, but told supporters Missouri could be a replication of how the primaries went in Michigan, where he won a majority of the votes for the democratic presidential nomination.

“Why don’t you all surprise them on Tuesday?” Sanders asked the crowd. They responded with arguably the strongest applause and cheers of the night.

The Missouri primary elections will be on Tuesday, March 15.

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