More than 3,000 New Mexicans felt the Bern Friday during a campaign rally at Santa Fe Community College.
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders took time before his speech in the SFCC Fitness Education Center to address some 600 people in the parking lot who could not get into the packed facility.
“New Mexico is ready for a political revolution,” Sanders told the crowd. “Our job is to build an economy, which works for everybody.”
Sanders’ 1.5 hour speech inside the gym was broadcast via loudspeakers to the crowd outside.
“We’re going to win a lot more states and millions more votes,” Sanders promised his supporters. He urged them to promote a large turnout in New Mexico.
“We will fight for every last vote between now and June 14,” he said.
“The establishment indicated who the candidate would be before the process began,” Sanders said, pointing out that more than 400 delegates indicated support for his rival, Hillary Clinton before anyone else was in the race.
“If this is the process, you might not end up with someone who can beat a candidate like Donald Trump,” he said, pointing to polls that show Sanders has a better chance to beat Trump than Clinton.
Sanders attacked the role of money in modern politics, declaring “when you have billionaires supporting other billionaires, that isn’t democracy, that’s oligarchy.”
“Any objective observer will tell you the energy and excitement is in our campaign, not Secretary Clinton’s,” Sanders said.
Sanders hammered home his message that inequities in the American economic system are undermining democracy, noting that 58 percent of newly generated income goes to the richest 1 percent of citizens. Sanders promised the wealthy will start paying their fair share of taxes if he is elected president.
He noted that at 30 percent, New Mexico has the highest rate of childhood poverty in the country.
“That should not happen in New Mexico. It must not happen in America. We’re going to change our national priorities,” he said.
Sanders said the rate of incarceration, the highest in the world, is an “international embarrassment.
“I want this country to have the best educated population in the world – not the most people in jail,” he said.
He promised to address the crisis of drug addiction as a health issue, not a criminal issue.
“We need a revolution in how we do mental health in this country,” he continued. “People who are suicidal or homicidal cannot get the treatment they need.”
Sanders reached out to his young supporters. Voters under 45 have supported Sanders by large margins during the primary.
“Young people are the future and they want to be involved in shaping it,” he said.
He reiterated one of his major campaign planks, that public colleges and universities should be tuition-free.
“New Mexico has the worst high school graduation rate in the country. I want to tell every student they can get an education no matter what their economic status.” he said.
Sanders reached out to the Latino community, promising to work to end the exploitation of the 11 million people living in the country illegally and to create a “fast forward to citizenship.”
He also promised African Americans that he would provide funds for the inner cities. In a message to Native Americans, Sanders said that Native Americans have given “us and our culture so much that the debt to them is unpayable.”
“We will change our relationship to the Native American people. We will respect sovereign rights,” he said.
Sanders spent a good portion of his time on health care.
“How does every major country on earth except the United States guarantee health care to all their people,” Sanders asked. “I believe that health care is a right.”
He praised the Affordable Healthcare Act, but pointed out there’s a long way to go when 29 million Americans have no insurance and many more have such high deductibles and co-payments that they cannot see a doctor or afford prescription medicine.
In his blunt spoken manner, Sanders said he “despises” the pharmaceutical companies the six largest of which pulled in 50 billion in profit while charging huge amounts for their drugs. “We will tell them they are going to stop ripping off the people of this country,” Sanders said.
Sanders put forward the populist message that “real change happens from the bottom up.”
He pointed to the union movement and thanked them for “giving us the modern middle class.” He also pointed to the gains made by the civil rights movement, the feminist movement and the gay movement through grassroots action.
“The only way we can bring about change is when we all stand up together,” Sanders said. “When we do that, there is nothing, nothing, nothing that can stop us.”
Following his Santa Fe rally, Sanders visited Albuquerque where more than 7,000 turned out to hear him speak while hundreds more were turned away. He then headed to a gathering in Las Cruces where he completed his New Mexico campaign sweep.