MANCHESTER, N.H. – On Friday, Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN) took critics to task for casting his policies as “impossible,” reminding an audience of approximately 200 at Southern New Hampshire University of all the things once thought impossible that are now taken for granted.
Sanders aimed to convince the crowd that initiatives such as his $16.7 trillion Green New Deal are not only possible and will pay for itself, but necessary given the challenges America now faces on addressing climate change as well as creating jobs that will address the country’s aging infrastructure.
The Vermont Senator also vehemently attacked the rich and powerful for what he described as their attacks on democracy, as well as misplaced efforts by Congress to help their benefactors through tax breaks, stating if they can provide trillion-dollar tax breaks, they can provide tuition-free college, healthcare for all Americans, and progress on addressing climate issues.
Sanders also advocated for a variety of other initiatives, ranging from expanded background checks on firearm sales and legalizing marijuana nationwide to ending cash bail and comprehensive border reform. He added that these and other initiatives could not be accomplished by himself alone, but if all Americans remained united against forces that sought to divide them.
While Wall Street and other economic elites bore the brunt of his attacks, Sanders also saved plenty of ire for President Donald Trump, who he described as racist, sexist, xenophobic and as a pathological liar.
“It will come with no surprise to anyone in this room that I disagree with Trump on virtually everything,” said Sanders.
Response to comments from Sanders and Omar from the crowd were overwhelmingly positive, with some members of the audience adding to Sanders’ comments at times by yelling things in support of Sanders’ attacks.
A.J. Lavoie travelled from the Dover area for the event to hear Bernie speak for the fifth time since 2015, bringing a copy of Sanders’ book to sign.
For Lavoie, Sanders is the only hope of fixing America’s problems. He could possibly see himself voting for Elizabeth Warren if she becomes the Democratic presidential nominee, but he sees her as a watered-down version of Sanders. And while he describes Trump as fascist, he says he if a centrist candidate becomes the nominee, he would probably just write in Sanders, as he did in 2016.
“Unfortunately, we’ve had a lot of right-wing candidates infiltrate the party over the years,” said Lavoie. “I don’t think any of the mainstream, centrist Democrats will do anything about healthcare or job security or any of that stuff. I think Bernie is the only one who really cares about that stuff, everyone else is just in it for the money.”
Thomas Jordan of Manchester is leaning toward voting for Bernie, but says he has to do more research before he makes a decision, and noted possibly supporting Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI).
Unlike Lavoie, this marks the first time Jordan has gone to see any political candidate speak ever, something he pledged to do during this Presidential Primary season following the 2016 General Election.
Although he still doesn’t want to officially support Sanders just yet, Jordan left with a positive impression of both Bernie and the retail politics of New Hampshire itself.
“I found him really inspiring, very motivating. It’s a lot better to hear the candidates talk in more than just soundbites,” said Jordan. “I don’t want to say I am committed to any one candidate because things change, views change. I think Bernie is definitely the one I am most aligned with. I think it would be difficult to swing my vote away from Bernie, but I don’t think it would be impossible.”
Even though the event was held on the campus of Southern New Hampshire University, Penmen Press Co-Editor-in-Chief Nikki Fain said she did not see many SNHU students in the audience.
Fain says that on-campus students aren’t apolitical, but they are busy with their own lives and they have voiced confusion over recent legislation from Concord regarding student voting rights, further impacting any focus they may have on the presidential candidates.
“I think a lot of the social justice students knew (about the event), but I think otherwise (the Sanders campaign) struggled to market,” said Fain. “I honestly don’t have a good idea (on where students stand on the candidates.) There’s not a lot of conversation about it yet.”