WAXAHACHIE — Waxahachie residents Leslie Kelley and Joanne Hunt had the opportunity to hear Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders speak Thursday at the Verizon Theater in Grand Prairie. Sanders was the keynote at the Our Revolution hosted “Come Together, Fight Back“ event that included speeches from elected officials, Democratic party leaders, and citizen advocates.
“All the speakers emphasized that if people want change, they have to get out and vote,” said Hunt, who along with Kelley is an active member of Waxahachie Democratic Women and the newly formed United Women of Ellis County. The two shared that they were impassioned by Sanders’ message and each mentioned that the other speakers were motivating, as well.
“Democratic National Committee vice chair Michael Blake, Texas Democratic Party chair Gilberto Hinojosa, and former Texas Agricultural Commissioner Jim Hightower also gave rousing and inspirational speeches,” Hunt said.
“Jim Hightower had a lot of funny anecdotes, and he encouraged all in attendance to join Our Revolution Texas,” said Kelley, referring to the movement founded by Sanders.
The meeting opened with live music. Singer and songwriter Sarah Jaffe, a former Ellis County resident, and Ft. Worth band Sally Majestic each played several songs. Just before the first speaker, Jaffe led the audience in singing the national anthem.
After the event, Jaffe was asked about her participation.
“I'm so very honored to be in the presence of Bernie Sanders and to be amongst people who are all ready to take a stand against Trump. I believe if we all stand up and speak up together, we will be heard," Jaffe added.
The first speakers to the podium were Tarrant County Democratic Party chair Deborah Peoples and Dallas County Democratic Party chair, Carol Donovan. In keeping with the theme, Peoples entered the stage wearing boxing gloves and spoke of “fighting back.”
Next to speak was Hinojosa. “Mark my word, the 2018 mid-terms will be the best we’ve ever seen,” Hinojosa shared with the crowd. His passionate call for action also included harsh words for the current Senate majority.
“Republicans go to church on Sunday to pray; and then on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, they prey on poor people,” he continued, stating that Republicans also prey on LGBTQ and other at-risk groups.
After Hightower and two citizen advocates spoke to the packed auditorium, Blake rallied the crowd.
“Michael Blake’s high energy speech emphasized the urgency of getting involved in our local politics now and that the American people need to come together,” said Kelley.
Finally, keynote speaker Bernie Sanders took the stage.
“The American people need to understand politics is not entertainment. It is what is going to happen in your life,” said Sanders. He went on to say that we, the citizens, determine the future of our country.
Regarding the economy, Bernie said, “We’re going to create an economy that works for working people.”
Sanders also addressed the issue of healthcare, saying, “In my view, healthcare is a right – not a privilege.” He continued, stating that it is time for us to join the rest of the industrialized world and provide healthcare for all.
Other topics covered included taking the message to our neighbors and minimum wage.
“Wages are too damn low. Nobody makes it on $7.25. In America, if you work 40 hours per week, you should not be in poverty,” said Sanders.
Sanders spoke about education in America, noting that taxing Wall Street speculation should pay for tuition-free college.
Sanders referred to “our broken criminal justice system,” citing that there are more people in jail here than in any country.
Regarding global warming, Sanders had this to say: “Climate change is real. It is already causing devastating problems on this planet.” Sanders then congratulated Texas on moving towards wind energy.
Sanders said that Mr. Trump campaigned that he was for working people. “Mr. Trump lied,” he said, adding, “You don’t drain the swamp by having more billionaires in your cabinet than ever before in history.”
Sanders encouraged those in attendance to run for school board, city council, and local government seats. “You don’t have to have a PhD. in economics. What is important is to have a heart,” he said.
“A lot of the theme throughout his [Sanders] speech was morals. He pointed out that a lot of the things that the current administration is doing are ‘morally indefensible,’” said Kelley.
Arlington resident and candidate for 6th Congressional District, Justin Snider, was also in the audience.
"I think it's great he [Sanders] came to town and had the rally. I'm glad they came before early voting to get people activated. We had tons of candidates reaching out for support,” said Snider, adding, "I was not politically active before Bernie announced he was running in 2015. He had a message early on that ‘It's not me, it's us.’ That told me I needed to do more. After Election Day, I decided to step up. He is why I'm running for office today."
Sanders closed with, “In unprecedented times, we need unprecedented action.”