Bernie Sanders encourages young people to vote at Richmond rally

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders stands on stage at a rally in the Arthur Ashe Jr. Athletic Center on Thursday. Photo by Megan Lee

Katharine DeRosa, Contributing Writer

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders filled the Arthur Ashe Junior Athletic Center during a rally ahead of the upcoming primary in Virginia on Super Tuesday, ending his speech with a call to action.

“Please come out to vote, let us have the largest voting turnout in the history of Virginia primaries,” Sanders said before thanking the crowd and heading off the stage.

On Tuesday, presidential nominees in Virginia and 16 other states will vote in primary elections. North Carolina, Texas and California are included in what’s considered to be the midpoint of the election.

Throughout his speech, Sanders spoke of his major policy proposals, including: 

  • “Medicare for All,” a program that would grant health insurance to all Americans
  • Restoring the status of people eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program
  • Ending the sale and distribution of “assault weapons” 
  • Legalizing marijuana federally
  • Creating free public universities countrywide and raising the salary of teachers to at least $60,000 a year
  • Climate change policies based on the ideas of the Green New Deal

Sanders has also campaigned on legalizing abortions, raising minimum wage and combatting homelessness.

Bernie Sanders greets supporters at his Richmond rally. Photo by Megan Lee

Sanders’ comments about abortion caused the crowd to erupt into cheers of “Bernie” while stomping their feet on the floor and on the bleechers. 

“It’s women who have the right to control their bodies, not the government,” Sanders said.

The rally also attracted students from VCU, including Brittany Ofori, a freshman psychology major, who said she was excited about Sanders’ ideas for college tuition and student debt.

“I was excited to go,” Ofori said. “I had never been to anything like this before.”

The rally began with two musical performances and four speakers with an introduction of the candidate from Elizabeth Guzmán, the first Latina woman to be elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.

“When people tell me that Bernie is not electable, I will tell them that it’s not true,” Guzmán said during her speech. “He is the front-runner. He has won Iowa. He has won New Hampshire. He has won Nevada.”

Sanders said young voters could contribute to a landslide election by turning out to vote at the same rates as older demographics.

“This young generation is the most progessive generation in the history of America,” Sanders said. “They’re anti-everything that Trump is for.”

Sanders urged young people to take action during his speech. 

“Your complaints don’t mean anything,” he said. “What means something is standing up and fighting.”

The senator from Vermont also took the opportunity to discredit his competitors, specifically mentioning former Vice President Joe Biden and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“Bloomberg has every right in the world to run for president,” Sanders said. “but he doesn’t have the right to buy the president.”

Sanders said Biden was a “good friend” of his before criticizing his campaign for the presidency.

“Joe is not going to bring new people into the political process,” Sanders said.

The Virginia Democratic primaries will take place on Tuesday, and polling places can be found at elections.virginia.gov.

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