Bernie Sanders hosted a campaign rally at the Albuquerque Convention Center to more than 7,000 people, with hundreds more being turned away at the doors.
Jim Hightower introduced the presidential candidate, addressing the Albuquerque crowd as revolutionaries.
“You’re lucky here in N.M. because you don’t have to wait for Independence Day in July. You can have it on the June the 7,” Hightower said. “Bernie Sanders is our 2016 Declaration of Independence.”
Sanders began his speech by thanking The Sweet Nations Dance Group for their performance at the rally and wasted no time talking brass tax.
“It sounds to me and looks to me like Albuquerque is ready for a political revolution,” he said.
Sanders talked about his initial lack of presence in the polls and how that has swung to the result of Sanders’ victories in twenty states, encouraging others to vote on the June 7 primary to have a major victory in New Mexico.
Sanders addressed his strong support from young people aged 45 and younger.
“Our vision, a vision of social justice, economic justice, racial justice and environmental justice. That vision resting on the shoulders of young people is the future of America,” he said. “We are in this fight till the last ballot is cast.”
As far as the important issues, Sanders talked about rights for health care, higher education, livable wages, equality and climate change.
“When people are prepared to stand up and fight for their kids and their parents, when people are prepared to make this great country a better country,” Sanders said, “progressives and Democrats win elections.”
Sanders also talked about winning 46 percent of pledge votes, taking on the entire Democratic establishment and didn’t miss an opportunity to address the topic of his opponents, particularly Donald Trump.
“We all agree that Donald Trump would be a disaster for this country and must be defeated,” he said. “We want the strongest Democratic candidate to go forward and to beat him.”
Simon Walker, a graduate philosophy student, said it was exciting to see the enthusiasm the local community had for Sanders, emphasized by the long lines outside the Convention Center during the rally.
“I really liked last night, I thought it was really fun and really engaging,” Walker said. “He brings political discourse back to the people.”
He said he knows that everybody has their own reasons for wanting Sanders to be our next president, but his biggest reason is that Sanders is the only candidate who addresses environmental issues.
“I think it’s something that’s really important and that he acknowledges quite firmly,” Walker said.
Walker said that, although Sanders has the deck stacked against him, his campaign still gives hope.
“I still think there’s some kind of success,” he said. “Just by becoming as popular as he has he already has changed the playing field and created a community of people who recognize they’re unsatisfied with the way politics is currently run.”
Sanders appeals to the younger generations statistically, Walker said, due largely to the issues the candidate brings up.
“I think young people are a lot more sensitive to the kind of radical inequality in both America and the world and have a lot more imagination and ability to imagine alternative futures,” he said. “I would love it if he became president, that would be amazing.”
Qiaoqiao Jade, a former UNM graduate student and Sanders supporter, said the rally was amazing and had a great turnout.
“I felt nothing but positive energy from the crowd,” she said. “I believe with a bigger space and longer notice, we would have had an even bigger turnout.”
Jade said Sanders is a man for the people who has been fighting for the public’s rights for a long time.
“It’s about time we fight with him,” she said. “We have a corrupt system where the million and billionaires can buy anything they want, including our government.”
She said it’s worth noting that Sanders is the only presidential candidate who has not been bought by super PAC’s and corporations.
“I feel like it doesn’t matter what your political affiliation is, we all want the same thing which is a greater future for us and our children,” Jade said. “Bernie Sanders is the only presidential candidate that can give us that.”
Jade said personally, she knows many 50-, 60- and even 70-year-olds that are voting for Sanders in addition to his many younger supporters.
“He has more support from younger generations because the older generations lived when things stayed the same,” she said. “However, things don’t work that way anymore.”
Jade said younger generations are the ones who worry about their future and the future of their children.
“Any big decision we make now will affect us greatly. We definitely want someone like Bernie Sanders who is interested in a better future for us,” she said. “He is like a father who cares and loves all his children and cares about their future.”
Matthew Reisen is the news editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DailyLobo.