Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) headlined a rally in Philadelphia on Sunday to encourage voters to elect Democrats to all levels of government during the midterms.
The “Get Out The Vote Rally,” sponsored by NextGen America, MoveOn Political Action, and Vote Fight Win, took place at Franklin Music Hall on Nov. 6, just days before the Nov. 8 midterm elections.
The roster featured speakers including Philadelphia City Councilmembers Helen Gym and Kendra Brooks, Executive Director of MoveOn Rahna Epting, National Director of the Working Families Party Maurice Mitchell, and Executive Director of NextGen Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez. These representatives of Democratic political organizations emphasized the importance of voting in this election, highlighting the contentious sociopolitical issues on the ballot.
Maurice Mitchell condemned the Republican Party for exercising control over a woman’s right to choose and LGBTQ rights.
“There’s only one set of political actors that are creepily obsessed with the gender of our children,” he said. “There is only set of political actors that are creepily obsessed with who we love, who we choose to marry, and the bodies of women and people who are planning pregnancies.”
Other speakers discussed the United States’ restrictive immigration policies, economic distress during the COVID-19 pandemic, and a lack of access to health care and governmental assistance.
Before Sanders’ speech, American singer and dancer Tinashe performed a set. She then introduced Sanders to the audience, calling him a “true icon.”
Sanders delivered a 25-minute speech at the event, encouraging voter participation in Pennsylvania and supporting Attorney General Josh Shapiro for the gubernatorial election and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman for Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate election.
“Midterm elections are not all that sexy,” Sanders said. “You don’t have someone running for president, and you don’t have big debates and all that stuff. But I want to tell you that the party that controls the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate, and who is governor is of enormous consequence to every person in this room and every person in Pennsylvania.”
Sanders suggested that the Democratic campaign in Pennsylvania represents more than social issues, such as reproductive rights, access to free health care, and increasing the federal minimum wage.
“This election is about saving the foundations of American democracy,” Sanders said. “We believe in democracy. We believe we can make it easier for people to vote, not harder.”
Sanders said that the Democratic Party does not meet the definition of the term "extremist." While he said that he does not identify as an extremist himself, Sanders offered a definition of extremism as one that characterizes the Republican Party.
“Extremism is three people owning more wealth than the bottom half of the American population. Extremism is the rich getting richer, and 600,000 Americans being homeless. That’s extremism,” Sanders said. “Extremism is when young people do the right thing, get a college degree, and have to spend 20 years paying off their student debt. That’s extremism.”
Sanders encouraged Pennsylvanians to exercise their right to vote on Nov. 8. He told the crowd that he believes that change can only occur in numbers, and people must not waver in defending what they believe in.
"Don't give up on this country. Too many people have fought and died to take us to where we are today," Sanders said. "They have defended democracy, they fought for civil rights, they fought for women's rights, and they fought for gay rights. There have been great people doing great things throughout history."
Students can vote on campus this Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.