At an under-the-radar town hall in Des Moines, Sanders had the crowd begging for more. Here's why it matters
By Robert Leonard
Progressive America Rising via Salon.com
Feb 24, 2015 - DES MOINES — Bernie Sanders has neckties older than most of his audience at last Friday’s Drake University Town Hall in Des Moines. Yet the age differential didn’t matter. His college-age audience loved him. Organized by Drake progressive students, Sanders and his audience seemed to have a near telepathic connection. His issues are their issues, and if anything, they are more pissed off than he is.
Several Drake students set the stage for Sanders in brief topical introductions, laying waste to money in politics, Citizens United specifically, the reality and dangers of climate change, the importance of pay equity for women, immigration reform, and the crushing burden of the cost of college and debt. Then Bernie nailed it, touching on all of these topics and more.
Unlike the speeches at the recent Republican Iowa Freedom Summit, Sanders was long on ideas, and short on chest-thumping, fiery rhetoric. He also didn’t have an audience mostly old enough to vote when Ronald Reagan was running for president.
At first it was unclear who the bigger enemy of the people were to Sanders — the Kardashians or the Koch brothers. The Kardashians, or rather our public fascination with them, represents America’s apathy. Sanders was clear that nothing progressive can happen until people start paying attention. Sanders told his audience that Americans are getting screwed, and that we had better pay attention and get off our asses.
According to Sanders, our government is bought and paid for by the Koch brothers, and we are living in an oligarchy. He illustrated the point by reminding us of the recent announcement that the Kochs plan to spend $900 million on the next presidential election, when Obama and Romney each spent approximately $1 billion in 2012. He feels that soon, they will have more power than either the Democratic or Republican parties, just because of their wealth and the leverage the 5-4 Supreme Court Citizens United decision gave them and other billionaires.
The question and answer session took an interesting turn when a stocky young man with the voice of a broadcasting major asked Sanders, “Will you run for president in 2016?”
If he had asked, “Are you going to run…” Sanders might have responded differently. “I don’t know yet,” would have been a good answer. But since he was asked, “Will you run…” Sanders apparently heard it as a request for him to run.
“That’s a good question that you’ve asked,” Sanders said. “Let me throw it back to you… do you think there is the support in this country?” To which the young man replied, “ I think I do. I do. I think there is the support out there … people are really getting angry about this income inequality, climate change…we’re tired of it.” (Continued)