POMONA — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) slammed the Democratic Party establishment on Thursday evening, telling an audience of thousands in this largely Hispanic town that party leaders wanted voters to “think small.”
“You always have an establishment that wants you to think small, that wants to make you believe that you cannot create real change,” Sanders told fans who gathered on the football field of Ganesha High School. “What you have got to do is reject that thinking. And that is exactly what’s happening today.”
Sanders, who recently surged into a statistical tie with Hillary Clinton in the polls, insisted that he would defeat her in the June 7 California primary — though he declined to mention her by name: “[W]e will march out of the convention with the Democratic nomination On June 7.” He pushed for greater voter turnout, urging everyone present to vote. “Let us have the largest voter turnout in California Democratic primary history. Let this great state, this progressive state, tell the world that California is prepared to help lead the political revolution.”
During his previous rally in Ventura that same afternoon, Sanders said he was “excited” that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump had accepted his invitation to a debate, and said he was looking forward to “defeating him and becoming the Democratic [presidential] candidate.”
“He has a very big ego and I’m not sure how he’s going to be feeling after election night,” Sanders said of Trump.
He once again railed against the “billionaire” class in America. “We are fighting in this campaign against a corrupt campaign finance system that allows billionaires to buy elections,” Sanders lamented.
He added that while these billionaires could spend all the money they want to elect candidates, “at the end of the day, we have more power than the billionaires, because when we stand together and we fight for each other, and we fight for a government that fights for all of us and not just the one percent, there’s not a thing we cannot accomplish.”
The crowd, largely black and Latino, chimed in with “¡Si se puede!,” (“Yes we can!”) in Spanish.
Speaking of the nation’s African-American population, Sanders said he has seen things “that should not being going on in” the 21st century. He then recalled how he has visited predominately black communities where there are no grocery stores, “where mothers cannot buy their children fresh food.” He also spoke about inner cities where there are no banks, and where in order to cash paychecks, a person must go through a lender that charges “astronomical interest rates.”
To remedy that problem, Sanders said — echoing one of Barack Obama’s campaign themes from 2008: “We’re not gonna build communities in Afghanistan. We’re gonna rebuild communities in the United States.”
“This campaign is also about ending a rigged economy. I grew up in a home that didn’t have a lot of money,” Sanders told the group. “Very painful stuff. I remember it a long time ago.”
He once again plugged his plan to tax Wall Street speculation in order to provide free college tuition, and reminded the crowd of the “greed and recklessness of Wall Street” and the 2008-9 bailouts. “Well, I didn’t vote for that but my colleagues did,” he said, without mentioning Clinton by name as he had in previous speeches. (Someone in the audience shouted her name on his behalf.)
“It is Wall Street’s time to help the middle class,” Sanders added.
“I want you to raise your hands. How many people here have no health care?” Sanders asked the crowd. He then scanned the raised hands and said “Whoa! Whoah!” in shock. “That’s why we are going to pass comprehensive healthcare reform.”
“Real change has always occurred when millions of people summon up the courage to stand up and fight back and create a society of justice,” Sanders said.
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