Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders doesn't want to talk about small changes, he wants to talk about a political revolution.
He wants a government and an economy that works for everybody, he said at a rally in Rochester this morning, not just the wealthy and large corporations. That message resonates with Christin Babcock, a resident of the 19th Ward. Sanders has a consistent record that's based on helping others, she said, and he views war as a last resort. Babcock was one of more than 6,400 people who came to the rally at the Bill Gray's Regional Iceplex, right next to Monroe Community College.
Sanders took the podium to loud cheers, and thanked the crowd for its support and enthusiasm.
"This is the political revolution," he said, and another round of ground-shaking cheers erupted.
He talked about his meeting with Verizon union stewards in Buffalo yesterday. Verizon workers across the East Coast are preparing to go on strike tomorrow because they are unhappy with the contract terms that the company is offering: it wants to send call center jobs out of the country and cut workers benefits. On top of that, the company doesn't pay what it should in taxes, Sanders said, and has resisted making inner city broadband investments.
Sanders said that he stands with the Verizon workers who refuse to be "beaten down by a greedy corporation who couldn't care less about them and the people of this country."
Repeatedly, Sanders hit on key points of his campaign — he didn't say anything new, really — and the crowd roared. He talked about taxing speculative transactions on Wall Street to fund free public university and college educations, getting money out of the political process, ending foreign trade deals that enrich companies but harm American workers, and banning fracking . The crowd ate it up. One man got so into it he yelled "Burn the banks," and "Smash the oligarchy."
And when Sanders referred to his rival, former New York Senator Hillary Clinton, as the crowd's senator, some in the crowd made their opinions clear.
"She's not from here," yelled one woman, whose voice cut through similar jeers from others.
Sanders went after Clinton for being too cozy with Wall Street firms and powerful corporate executives, soliciting boos from his supporters.
Sanders, like Republican front-runner Donald Trump, has performed far better than many politicos and talking heads initially expected. And the enthusiasm on display at both candidates' Rochester rallies shows why. Many Americans do see an economy and government that's rigged against them, and Trump and Sanders are speaking to that discontent. Whether that gets them on the general election ticket remains to be seen; Clinton has won more delegates than Sanders, and though Trump leads the Republican field in delegates, party leaders may maneuver him out of the nomination at the convention.
But as Sanders wound down his remarks, he made a simple ask of the crowd. He encouraged them to volunteer for a few hours leading up to Election Day, which is April 19. But most important, he said, is for his supporters to turn out and to encourage family, friends, and neighbors to vote.
"When we stand together, there is nothing we can't accomplish," he said.