The latest in a series of “Meet the Candidates” events co-sponsored by the Malibu Democratic Club this year was by far the largest, welcoming Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to speak at a rally in Santa Monica last week.
Supporters of Sanders, the runner-up to Secretary Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic Primary, packed the outdoor amphitheater at Santa Monica High School on Friday, July 26, during the event that was co-sponsored by the Santa Monica, Palisades and West LA Democratic clubs.
With temperatures in Los Angeles soaring to nearly 90 degrees Friday afternoon, hundreds of Sanders supporters descended on Samohi to hear Vermont’s junior senator speak on various campaign issues including homelessness, immigrant rights, healthcare, the fossil fuel industry, criminal justice reform and education, among others.
The crowd was so animated, the candidate remarked, he felt for a moment as though there was an earthquake striking.
According to Malibu Democratic Club Co-Vice President Ted Vaill—who said he supported Sanders during his 2016 presidential run—the senator’s message should resonate with Malibu residents who are concerned about issues like gun control. However, economic policies such as a single-payer healthcare structure could be less popular in an affluent community like Malibu.
“As far as Medicare for all, that’s an issue that is debatable right now, whether that is something that [Malibu would be interested in],” Vaill said in a later interview with The Malibu Times. “He pushes that heavily. Whether Malibu people support that or not, I don’t know. Malibu is a wealthy community—many of them already have health insurance.”
Sanders was preceded by speakers including Erika Feresten, president of the Pacific Palisades Democratic Club, who focused her remarks on healthcare reform, and former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, whose words covered a wide range of topics.
“Every single candidate running is reading from the gospel of Bernie Sanders,” Turner told the crowd.
According to Vaill, Sanders has been living his campaign message for his whole adult life—or at least since the two were students together at the University of Chicago.
“I met him briefly when we were both at the University of Chicago as students,” Vaill recalled.”I was in the law school, he was in the college, and I associated with a number of people in the college from the New York area and he was in that group.
“I remembered him participating in and leading a demonstration against segregation in the University of Chicago housing program,” Vaill continued. “He staged a sit-in and led it and until they changed their policy; he was more of an activist than a student.”
Sanders said his campaign had “bad news” for President Donald Trump, private insurance companies, the pharmaceutical industry and the fossil fuel industry.
“We say to Donald Trump: Stop the demonization of people. Stop the racism. Stop the xenophobia,” Sanders said, saying what America needs is “comprehensive immigration reform and a path toward citizenship.”
“America is not about snatching babies from the arms of their mothers,” Sanders added.
Sanders ended his remarks on a high note.
“Our job as a people is to think outside of the box,” Sanders said. “If we have the courage to think big, and if we have the courage to envisage the kind of nation we want to become—a kind of nation where we have eliminated poverty, a nation where all people have the healthcare they need as a human right, a nation where all people can get the education they need, a nation in which we are leading the world in fighting climate change, a nation in which we are not throwing people into jail but getting them decent jobs, a nation in which we are not demonizing immigrants but establishing a path toward citizenship, a nation which finally addresses the institutional racism which is so rampant in America ... brothers and sisters, if we can do all of that, we can create an extraordinary country that the whole world will be looking to for leadership.”