Pamela Powers, a progressive voice for Arizona
I wasn’t prepared for Bernie Sanders’ 90-minute lallopalooza in Tucson on October 9, 2015.
Besides logistical issues, like not having a spare camera battery and running out of juice, wearing the wrong shoes for 90 minutes of standing, days of hounding the Sanders campaign about a press pass (only to find out that the Star was having the same problem as BfAZ), and the nagging feeling that one hand of the Sanders campaign didn’t know what the other was doing, I wasn’t prepared to like the event.
I have been on the fence about the Bernie Sanders vs Hillary Clinton race for months. I have liked and followed Hillary since she became the first First Lady to be a media punching bag because she had ambitions beyond serving tea and cookies. I can relate to her because we are both from the Midwest, we came of age during the same time period, we are both strong feminists, and we both spent our lives like Ginger Rogers— dancing backwards and in heels up the career ladder toward that ever-present glass ceiling. I like Sanders’ income inequality message and his proposals, but I have two primary questions: 1) How can he accomplish eve a quarter on what he proposes without a 100% progressive Congress (not just a Democratic Party Congress) and 2) Who will finally end decades of struggle for women’s equality— another long-term male politician or the first woman President? (Still waiting for answers on these.)
As mentioned above, the Sanders event was 90 minutes long; consequently, I made 12 (yes–12!) little videos of the evening (because, let’s face it, we’re a short attention span society).
Instead of beginning the evening with politicians, the political speeches leading up to Sanders’ address were given by real people. Local activist and retired attorney Isabel Garcia (video) set the stage, followed by a speech about the importance of saving Oak Flat (video) and one about deportation (video).
Southern Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva, who had endorsed Sanders earlier in the week and introduced him that night in Tucson, talked about entering a transformational era in American politics (video). Grijalva said that Americans are tired of the government being out of step with what the people want– a living wage, good education for our children, a middle class healthy life free from poverty. Why is government out of step? Because politicians are bought and sold to the highest bidder due to a broken campaign finance system, thanks to Citizens United– a good tee-up for Sander’s usual economic inequality stump speech.
So– I expected the above economic inequality stump speech because that’s primarily what we hear and see from Sanders online and on television. Two segments of Sanders’ lengthy Tucson address surprised me– immigration reform and gun control. These are two areas in which he has lagged behind Clinton.
In Tucson, Sanders spent 12 minutes addressing his immigrant roots and immigration reform. Hang in there if you want to hear about path to citizenship; he finally gets there toward the end.
Sanders was less direct on gun control, but he couldn’t ignore the topic because there were two college campus shootings earlier in the day on October 9, including one at Northern Arizona University. (He ignored the gun violence news when he spoke at Netroots Nation and learned his lesson.) In this clip, he does spend several minutes on the Republican talking points regarding mental illness and making sure only good guys get guns. Sanders stops short of directly attacking the NRA, as Clinton did a few days later during the Democratic Party debate.
Here is a list of the other Sanders clips on my YouTube Channel.
Bernie Sanders in Tucson: Voter Suppression (3:14 min)
Bernie Sanders in Tucson: Family & Women’s Issues (2:53 min)
Bernie Sanders in Tucson: Unemployment, Jobs, & Discrimination (5:23 min)
Bernie Sanders in Tucson: Education & Free College Tuition (1:39 min)
Bernie Sanders in Tucson: Citizens United & Money in Politics (3:35 min)