DES MOINES, Iowa (CN) — Bernie Sanders kicked off his speech at the Iowa State Fair on Sunday by reminding the packed crowd that when he appeared before them at the fair four years ago, his ideas seemed radical to some. Now they have been adopted by many of the two dozen candidates vying for the Democratic nomination.
“Four years ago, when I was in Iowa, I said that if you work 40 hours a week, you shouldn’t live in poverty, and that we need to raise the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour.
“It seemed like a wild and crazy idea,” Sanders said. But the past four years, he said, “Seven states have raised the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour.”
“Four years ago, I said make college education free, and that seemed like a wild and crazy idea. State after state, and city after city have done just that”
Sanders, running under the Democratic Party banner while remaining an Independent, is talking just what he talked about in 2016.
Bernie has not changed, but he has forced the Democratic Party to address what he says about economic inequality, and ideas that Republicans call socialism.
Sanders was the 20th candidate to speak at the Iowa State Fair, which will attract upward of 1 million visitors over 11 days. All Democratic and Republican presidential candidates have been invited to address the fairgrounds crowds on Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox, a stage on the State Fair Grand Concourse.
Candidates are given a microphone and 20 minutes to make their pitch to folks strolling down the main thoroughfare.
Those who have not heard Sanders’ stump speech already got a 14-minute version Sunday, including Medicare for all, free college tuition and canceled student debt.
Sanders said that people ask him: How are you going to pay for all that stuff?
“A tax on Wall Street speculation,” Sanders replies.
“Eleven years ago, we had to bail out Wall Street. Now it’s their turn to help out the American people.”
All Americans would have health care coverage under Sanders’ single-payer, universal system, with no deductibles, no co-pays and you get to keep your doctor your hospital. Senior citizens on Medicare would have coverage for dental, hearing aids and eyeglasses.
Sanders didn’t say how much his Medicare-for-all plan would cost, but former Vice President Joe Biden, who spoke at the Iowa State Fair on Thursday, said it would cost $30 trillion.
Sanders said his campaign is “different than any other campaign out there” because he is calling for a groundswell of support that will force Washington politicians to act on these things, just as he called for four years ago.
“Real change never happens from the top down,” Sanders said, but from the bottom up, like all the other major changes in this country, including unions and the civil rights and gay rights movements.
“The only way change happens is when millions of people stand up and say, ‘Enough is enough’,” Sanders said.
“The first thing we have to do,” he said, “is defeat Donald Trump and bring our country back together as one people.”
Sanders said the United States “cannot afford to have a president who is racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic and a religious bigot. And, by the way, he is a pathological liar.”
“This is the moment history will judge us by,” Sanders said before closing. He walked off the stage without taking questions.