Sanders visit ramps up enthusiasm from Lubbock-area liberals

Sanders visit ramps up enthusiasm from Lubbock-area liberals
A large crowd listens in the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center while Senator Bernie Sanders speak (Source: Eli Fierro, KCBD)

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - It was full house inside the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center Saturday afternoon as Bernie Sanders, the Independent senator from Vermont, spoke at a rally hosted by the local chapter of Our Revolution Texas.

Attending the event was Jim Hightower, Texas Department of Agriculture commissioner, Nina Turner, former Ohio senator and T.G. Caraway, candidate for Precinct 4 county commissioner. The major point of the rally was to garner enthusiasm by local progressives, liberals and Democrats from Lubbock and the surrounding areas and persuade them to change the political landscape of the South Plains.

Caraway's speech focused on the importance of voting in the Lubbock community and criticizing the prominence of conservative politicians in West Texas. He also made a note to those in attendance to sign themselves up for political campaign email lists and volunteer groups.

But it was the other speakers that used their time to speak on ways to get Democrats elected into office around Texas.

"Now, when Jim Hightower invited me to come here, he did inform me that Lubbock is not the most progressive community in America, I got that," Sanders said. "But I want to say something to the people here who may have voted for Trump: I am not of the belief, never have been, that the majority of Trump supporters are racists or sexists or homophobes or bigots. I don't believe that."

Sanders said the common trait all voters have now is fear and worry about themselves and their families. However, the approaches taken are through vastly different avenues. He also added that many people who vote are tired of being led by life-long politicians who are swayed by corporate money -- something Donald Trump was able to tap into in order to get votes.

But the message in unification was heard within all the speakers. Turner added that part of her family are hard-core conservatives with far-right values.

"We cannot allow an election cycle to not see others humanity," Turner said.

She also said she believes that when it comes to the outcome of legislation progressives do have more policy action that leads to change throughout the country.

"Although progressives are not perfect," Turner said, "we have the policy that will lead this country."

All throughout the speeches the usual talking points of the speakers came to life again, such as increased funding for Medicaid and Medicare, more regulations regarding the purchases of guns, universal healthcare and free public colleges and universities.

Those were the messages the crowd wanted to hear, though. Many of the supporters and goers held signs reading "Love it, Improve it, Medicare for all!" And many of the supporters rallied around Sanders idea of making public colleges and universities free for all residents.

"So you tell your senators that if they can vote for our billion dollar a year tax break for the Koch brothers, they damn well can vote to make public colleges and universities tuition-free," Sanders said.

But towards the end of his speech, Sanders brought the subject of voting, which was part of the reason Our Revolution was hosting the rally. This area of Texas is full of people who consider themselves conservatives, which could also mean that anyone who identifies with left-leaning ideologies do not have much of a voice in voting towards their political opinion.

Both Sanders and Caraway said though there is a high concentration of those people around here that should not scare off anyone who votes for Democrats around the area. It is all of the public's right to vote and no matter what side of the political spectrum they lean towards they should have the right to vote and have their voices heard, Sanders said.

"Tens of millions of people feel that very deeply. Our job is to do two things: Our job is to come up with an agenda, a progressive agenda that speaks to the needs of working families," Sanders said. "And our second task is to take that agenda to our friends and our neighbors and our family who have given up on the political process."

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