Bernie Sanders made his way into New Haven two days before Connecticut’s primary on April 26.
Gathered on the New Haven Green, a park in the center of downtown, people smushed together like sardines in a can as they gravitated towards Michael Stipe, the former lead singer of R.E.M., who introduced Sanders.
“As the only son of a three-time combat veteran, I know firsthand the cost of war,” Stipe said shortly after entering the stage. “I want a candidate who said no to the Iraq war. That candidate is Bernie Sanders.”
The crowd cheered, and Stipe introduced Sanders to the stage.
Sanders spoke for about an hour, discussing the hot topics that his supporters love to hear, such as healthcare, the environment, minimum wage, criminal justice system, mental health, his campaign finance system and breaking up the big banks.
“What this campaign is really about is for all of us together to take on the status quo,” Sanders began. “And to understand that in the richest country in the history of the world, we can be much, much more than we are today.”
He wasted no time to tackle those in power, like Walmart.
“There’s a lot of talk about welfare. Well, let me tell you something about welfare. The major family who receives welfare in this country is not some poor family in Connecticut or Vermont – it is the Walton family. I say to the Walton family get off of welfare and pay your workers a living wage.”
This was the perfect segue to tie poverty and higher education together.
“We should be proud of this great university but a few miles away from here in this same city, we have children who are getting totally inadequate education. In this city alone, 36% children alone are living in poverty,” he said.
He continued, “Why are we punishing millions of people for getting an education? We should be rewarding, we should be encouraging people to get an education – not punishing them.”
“We need a revolution in mental health treatment in this country. We need to make certain that when people need mental health treatment they get it today, not six months from now.”
Sanders isn’t afraid to speak the truth and potentially make new enemies. “I’m not sure why your governor has cut mental health treatment in the state of Connecticut. We need to expand that treatment,” he said.
He then turned the focus onto Native Americans: how we could never repay them for what we learned from them, such as unity with nature.
“Climate change is caused by human activity. Climate change is already doing devastating harm to this country and all over the world,” Sanders said. “We have a moral responsibility to our children and grandchildren to leave them a planet that is healthy and habitable.”
Towards the end, a part of the crowd began shouting for Sanders’ attention. And just like that, dozens of hands flew up, shouting and pointing, waving for help. Somebody had fainted.
A few seconds later, Sanders saw the commotion and stopped speaking mid-sentence. “Can we get a doctor over there? We got a medical issue. Secret Service, can we get a doctor over there? OK, somebody’s on the way.”
In the silence that followed as the crowd looked on, a single voice shouted, “We love you, Bernie!”
To watch the entire event on YouTube, click here.