Thousands of people filled the Spectrum Amphitheater in Bakersfield Friday afternoon to attend the “Get out the Early Vote Rally” with presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
The event featured community organizers rallying support for the Vermont Senator, who is vying for the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nomination.
“We have the strongest grassroots movement [and] with more than a week to go before the election in California, our volunteers and staff have knocked on almost one million doors in the state,” Sanders said about the California primary election.
As of this week, only three out of the fifty states have held their primaries and caucuses, and Sanders has recently won the popular vote in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. Voters in California will be casting their ballots on Super Tuesday on March 3, along with 13 additional states.
“I don’t have to tell anybody here how important the California primary is,” stated Sanders as he acknowledged the importance of the upcoming March 3 primary. He pointed out California is the largest state in the country and also has the most number of delegates to the Democratic national convention.
During Sander’s 30-minute speech, he covered many issues and campaign platforms like political and economic inequality, employee and union support, affordable housing, education, immigration, criminal justice, universal healthcare, climate change, and more.
“Climate change is real. Climate change is threatening our country every single day,” Sanders said. “I don’t have to explain that to the people of California. You have seen what the wildfires have done to this state.”
“And to those workers in the fossil fuel industry, understand I have the strongest pro-union, pro-worker voting record lifetime in Congress. I am not your enemy,” reassured Sanders, who supports the Green New Deal and is advocating for transitioning to sustainable energy.
Another topic covered was Sanders plan for Medicare for All. Lupe Martinez, a local community organizer and environmental justice advocate for the Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment, introduced Sanders and shared a story about his son’s experience with healthcare.
His son, born in Bakersfield, had a life-threatening condition that was labeled a “‘pre-existing condition,” and despite the Affordable Care Act allowing him to receive treatment, the cost of prescription drugs was not affordable. His son now lives in Mexico where he can afford them.
“This is why I believe that healthcare is a human right for each and every one of us,” said Martinez, soliciting cheers from the audience. “Bernie Sanders’ plan for Medicare for All is one of the reasons I will support and go to the end with him.”
Healthcare is considered to be among one of the top issues for the upcoming election, with 35 percent of Americans citing candidates’ positions on healthcare as extremely important, according to a recent Gallup poll released last month.
Salvador Solorio, a Delano activist who is running for the Kern County Democratic Central Committee for his district, is attracted to Sanders’ campaign because of his platform, policies, and track record fighting for equal rights, which has even inspired him to canvass for Sanders during this election cycle.
“Discovering Bernie Sanders in 2016 inspired me to be civically engaged not only in national politics but local government as well,” said Solorio. “Bernie visiting the Central Valley is a sign that he understands our diversity is not a threat but a representation of who America is.”
Featured Photo: Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders stands with Kern County resident Lupe Martinez at a rally in Bakersfield Friday. Photo by Marivel Servin