Sanders Bern-ing brighter in the polls

Derek Pufahl, Staff Writer

SIOUX CITY–“Are you feeling the Bern?” a young campaign volunteer asked, holding open a glass door to the Orpheum Theater last Tuesday night (Jan. 19) minutes before 7 p.m.

Inside the entryway, a maze of small-time, local politicians ran the gamut, shoving clipboards into the stomachs of every newcomer to step foot in the building.

Further inside, the immortal voice of David Bowie filled the auditorium as Nebraskan and Iowan Democrats found last minute seats, anxious and excited to hear U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, speak.

A pair of good-hearted yuppies in casual wear took the mic first, Andy Juel and Bridget Durst, wielding a guitar and a ukulele respectively. They sang songs with lyrics like, “Stand up for people before profit,” and “Come and lend a hand. Tear this wall down. If we all work together, it won’t take very long.”

After a few lead-in speakers had warmed up the crowd (including an eruption about the minimum wage from former Sioux City State Senator Al Sturgeon), Sanders took the stage, greeted with a roaring applause.

Sioux City was his last stop of the day after holding rallies in cities across Iowa, moving west from Des Moines.

The self-proclaimed democratic socialist began the rally by proudly explaining that his campaign is not being funded by super PACs, but by more than two and half million small and individual contributions—each, on average, around $27.

Sanders went on to ridicule the campaign finance system and said that his first order of business in office would be to overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court decision (2010), which prohibits the government from restricting campaign spending by organizations.

He implicitly poked at Democratic candidate Hilary Clinton, who spoke at the Orpheum Theater earlier in January, and her use of super PACs.

He condemned the global investment bank Goldman Sachs and its executive officers for holding a corrupt financial institution that has ripped off “God knows how many people” and helped destroy the American economy.

He reiterated his goal of seeing college education tuition free for every American, saying that a college degree now is equal to what a high school diploma was 50 years ago.

“In my view,” Sanders said, “people should not have to suffer economically for the crime of wanting to get a higher education.”

He said his plan to allow people to be able to refinance their student loans the same way a person can refinance their home or their vehicle (which will cost around $70 billion a year) would be paid for by an imposed tax on Wall Street speculation.

On climate change, Sanders said that, as president, he would work with countries all over the world to take on the fossil fuel industry and transform our energy systems away from fossil fuel. He congratulated Iowa for being one of the leading states in the U.S. in terms of wind and biofuels.

He echoed his desires to see his Medicare for All, single-payer health care program in the United States.

“We end up spending far far more per capita on health care than do the people of any other country,” Sanders said. “And that is because the function of private insurance companies is not to provide quality affordable health care, it’s to make as much money as they can.”

“The only way that change ever takes place is from the bottom on up,” Sanders said near the end of his speech. “This campaign is about bringing forth a political revolution.”

Sanders asked supporters to continue their support at the Democratic caucuses on Monday and walked off stage to the sound of David Bowie (the 9th planet) singing, “There’s a Starman, waiting in the sky. He’d like to come and meet us, but he thinks he’d blow our minds.”