With AC/DC’s “Back in Black” blaring in the background, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) took the stage on Saturday morning to convince a nation, and a crowd of over 25,000 at Queensbridge Park, that he’s ready to win the 2020 Democratic Presidential nominee.
“We are going to win because the American people want fundamental changes in our national priorities,” Sanders said. “They are tired of the 1% getting richer while they are struggling to put food on the table — that’s why were going to win.”
Sanders spoke against the backdrop of the Queensbridge Housing Development, the largest public operating housing project in the U.S. During his speech, he touched on many cornerstone issues of his campaign: income inequality, Medicare for All and the Green New Deal; he also discussed issues most relevant to New Yorkers, like homelessness.
Former Ohio State Senator and two time Sanders campaign surrogate Nina Turner poised the primary as an opportunity to make history.
“[It’s an opportunity to] elect the most progressive candidate in our lifetime,” Turner said. “One who will not sell us out or sell us down the road. One who doesn’t say one thing in the primary and do something else in the general. We gonna elect somebody who understands there are disparities within the disparity. And if you are black, if you are brown, if you are indigenous, if you are poor, this system is rigged and it is rotten to the core. And we are gonna unrig it.”
Between a recent heart attack, the Working Families Party endorsing Senator Elizabeth Warren and getting eclipsed by Warren in the polls, the “Bernie’s Back” rally was an opportunity for Sanders to reset his campaign in an attempt to gain momentum.
During the rally, Sanders brandished a new slate of endorsements that ranged from Oscar-winning director Michael Moore, to former Queens DA candidate Tiffany Cabán, to leftist lightning rod and freshman Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. His newfound endorsers didn’t just highlight his progressive policies but painted him as the only candidate who has gone to bat for them.
“When I was a child that relied on [Children’s Health Insurance Program] so that I could see a doctor, Bernie Sanders fought for a single-payer healthcare system,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “When the federal government decided to discriminate and abandon my queer family and friends, Bernie Sanders was putting his career on the line for us. When I was a waitress and it was time for me to graduate from college with student debt, Bernie Sanders was one of the only ones that said no person should be graduating with life-crushing debt at the start of their lives.”
While Elizabeth Warren has been dubbed as the “progressive with the plans” and one of the farthest left-leaning candidates in the field, some attendees and Sanders supporters said the two candidates are not as comparable as they are made out to be.
Tisch sophomore and member of the Young Democratic Socialists of America regional organizing committee Simon Cadel cited Sanders’s support for the complete erasure of student debt and a universal job guarantee as two policies he feels separates Sanders from the rest.
“Bernie is more focused on radically changing our political and economic system in a structural way while Warren is more focused on reform, but not fundamentally altering the economic system,” Cadel said.
As a member of YDSA, Cadel has canvassed around the NYU campus for Sanders and other local New York City candidates.
One of NYU for Sanders campus corps leaders, CAS senior Natalie Carranza, said she was apolitical during the 2016 election but it was Sanders’s “courage, compassion, and dedication to people like me” that led her to support and organize for the campaign on campus.
“This rally proved that Bernie is back, he is healthy and he is ready to continue the fight for everyday Americans with every day,” she said.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Oct. 21, 2019 print edition. Email Matthew Fischetti at [email protected]