Since the start of the race to the White House, stakes have been high in both the Democratic and Republican parties to achieve the end goal of the presidency starting in January 2017.
Debates and rallies have been held nationwide for candidates Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, all of whom have had stops in Buffalo.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, running as a Democrat, held a rally April 11 at the University at Buffalo Alumni Arena in hopes of banding together with his supporters before the primary this past Tuesday.
Sanders’ supporters started to line up outside the arena early Monday morning in order to get a glimpse of the 74-year-old senator in action.
More than 8,000 people inside and 3,000 outside showed up in support. Although he was on a tight schedule, Sanders seemed to please most everyone in attendance.
Before his 7 p.m. scheduled speech, Sanders made pit stops at both the Communications Workers of America Hall in Cheektowaga and outside of the Alumni Arena itself to speak about his positions on hot-button issues, which he has been both praised and ridiculed for.
In anticipation of Sanders’ fashionably late arrival, the crowd inside the arena chanted “We stand up. We fight back.” Signs bearing slogans like “Feel the Bern” and “Love Trumps Hate” could be seen throughout the arena, and there even was a “promposal” to Sanders by a young enthusiast. When Sanders finally arrived, the entire arena buzzed with glee.
Before starting his speech, Sanders gazed around the arena in awe at the thousands chanting his name, and he touched on his happiness to be Buffalo.
“What this campaign is about is thinking outside of the box and raising issues that other politicians refuse to go near,” he said, as the arena shook with shrieks.
During the hourlong speech, Sanders touched on a variety of topics. He spoke first about corruption on Wall Street, saying he did not want or need to rely on Wall Street to win the election, but rather is depending on working-class people.
He then took a jab at his Democratic party opponent, Hillary Clinton, who has spoken on Wall Street numerous times, asking her to release the real transcripts of the speeches she gave.
“I am prepared to release all of the speeches I gave on Wall Street,” Sanders said. “And that is easy: There are none.”
Sanders also spoke on women’s rights, racial injustices, climate change, college education and police corruption.
He maintained a level tone while addressing these issues, and let out nothing but positive vibes. Sanders kept most of his speech focused on the people – “the 99 percent” – not on himself.
“This is not about electing Bernie Sanders; it’s not about me,” he said. “It’s about us.”
There were no active protestors in the arena and he reflected on that in his powerful speech.
“The American people know what every major religion on earth has taught us … love trumps hatred,” he said.
When wrapping up, Sanders made one final push to get out the message that voting in the primary was absolutely necessary. He stressed that his strength was in the numbers, and supporters simply needed to get out there and vote. Otherwise, he said, “We won’t win.”
With a glimmer of hope in his eyes and one last look around the jam-packed arena, Sanders walked away, saying, “On April 19, New York will make history.”
Deanna Garwol is a junior at Immaculata Academy.
“What this campaign is about is thinking outside of the box and raising issues that other politicians refuse to go near.” – Sen. Bernie Sanders, amid fans’ shrieks in Alumni Arena