Sanders and Rep. Omar ‘share a common link’ as children of immigrants
“He [Trump] is trying to divide us up. We are going to bring our people together—Black and White and Latino, Native American and Asian American, gay and straight, native-born and immigrant. We are going to bring our people together around an agenda that works for us all, not just the one percent!” shouted Democratic Party presidential candidate and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in his speech at a nearly packed house in Williams Arena on the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus Sunday night, November 3.
“What we are building is a multi-racial, multi-generational, working-class movement,” Sanders told the crowd. “We are all in this together, and we must all be prepared to fight for everyone who is struggling,” he said. “We must be willing to fight for the 50% of American families who live paycheck to paycheck.”
The Vermont liberal touched on practically every progressive talking point, including student debt cancellation, ending homelessness, raising wages, taxing the rich, Medicare For All, and creating a less phobic and more tolerant America.
“We are going to pass the most comprehensive housing bill in the history of this country,” Sanders said. “We will build up to 10 million new housing units. We will eliminate homelessness. We will fight gentrification. We will create a national rent control standard.”
“Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights,” sang New Power Generation before the candidate appeared. The rally was a bit raucous, resembling more a revival than a political event, with Sanders doing the preaching, New Power Generation leading the singing, and the audience doing a bit of call and response.
He even gave a nod to former Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone, promising to pick up where the deceased congressman left off. “We are going to implement that progressive agenda that Paul spent his life fighting for,” he said.
Across the street, a mix of Trump supporters and far-right groups, including a conservative Christian group that shouted “Rebellion is the product of witchcraft,” tried to get the attention of Sanders’ supporters as they waited to file into the auditorium after being hi-fived by passionate Sanders volunteers.
Representative Ilhan Omar introduced the candidate to rousing cheers. Pushing back on the divisive rhetoric of the Trump campaign, she reminded the audience that “Here in our district, the Hmong community, the Black community, the Jewish community, the Muslim community, and every other live side by side.”
Omar had come under criticism recently for sitting out a symbolic U.S. congressional vote that recognized genocide committed between 1915 and 1917 by Turkey against Armenians. But she answered her critics by saying she believes that there should be accountability for “all” genocides and ethnic cleansing, including the Atlantic slave trade and the genocide of Indians in the Americas.
She characterized the vote as an effort at “punishing our political foes,” implying that the vote was simply a means to take a dig at Turkey for its invasion of Kurdish-held areas in Northern Syria.
“Unlike Trump and his billionaire friends, we do not worship greed, selfishness and corruption,” Sanders said. He promised that through his progressive taxation plan, which he aims to use to fund his progressive policies, he will make sure that the corporate elite and the wealthy will “begin to pay their fair share.”
As the Senator listed Trump phobias, calling the president homophobic and xenophobic among other things, the crowd booed. When he called Trump racist they booed louder yet, even the children in the crowd, including three little five-year-old Black girls dressed in pink tutus and pink stockings with blue headscarves.
Referring to Omar, Sanders pointed out that no member of Congress “has been subjected to more vitriolic, more hate-filled, more racist attacks from Donald Trump and some of his supporters than this extraordinarily brave congresswoman.”
The candidate called for unity throughout his speech and reminded his audience that they have more in common than they think. The venue was decorated with signs declaring, “Not Me, Us.” He also acknowledged that he and the Minneapolis-based congresswoman share similar backgrounds though he is Jewish and she is Somali African and Black.
“People say Ilhan and I make an odd political couple, but, in fact, there’s nothing odd about it,” said Sanders. “Ilhan and I share a common link as the descendants of families who fled violence and poverty and who came to this country as immigrants.”
Sanders is the child of Jewish refugees. Omar’s family spent time in a refugee camp in Kenya before emigrating to the U.S.
While Sanders stumbled when it came to the Black vote in 2016, he seems to have gained some popularity, especially among younger African Americans. According to a recent poll by Morning Consult, the 78-year-old candidate is the favorite of Black millennials.