Thousands of people gathered at Fort Mason on March 24 to hear Sen. Bernie Sanders speak about his second bid as a presidential candidate.
Sanders wasted no time sharing his plans for the 2020 election and what his priorities would be if he gets elected. Sanders said he would take legislative action on taxes, raise the minimum wage, reform immigration policies, introduce rent control and fund public education.
“Now is the time to complete what we began. Now is the time to turn our vision and our progressive agenda into a reality,” Sanders told the crowd.
Among Sanders’ supporters was third-year SF State psychology major Jennifer Garcia, who said Sanders stood for many values that resonated strongly with her own.
“As a millennial and as a student, what I want is compassion and justice,” Garcia said.“I want people to have [their] basic needs [met] such as water, food, education, feminine products and shelters. I want to have my children in an environment where they know the importance of equality, forgiveness, [hard work], being humble and always standing up for what’s right.”
Garcia said her family’s struggles against poverty and immigration gave her motivation to continue her studies at SF State, something she feels privileged to do since she was born in the U.S.
“I’m on my way to becoming the first person in my whole family from both sides to graduate from college,” Garcia said.
Garcia said the hostility towards immigrants since President Donald Trump was elected angered her since many of her relatives faced adversity coming to the U.S.
“Both of my grandparents migrated to the U.S. for better job opportunities and then went back to Mexico to take care of their children,” Garcia said. “They wanted to give their children a better life so they went back to the U.S., but due to their immigration status and poverty, none of my [family] even graduated high school because they had to work to keep up with living [here].”
Sanders stance on immigration is one of the reasons Garcia plans on supporting him in contrast to Trump’s treatment of immigrants.
SF State kinesiology major Mary Diane Orillaza said she will be voting for Sanders in the upcoming election for the same reason.
“His stance for equality, for not only education but for immigration as well will help us not become so separated,” Orillaza said.
Sanders criticized the anti-immigrant sentiments he said have been on the rise since Trump was elected.
“Hate crimes are at an all-time high right now since Trump has been in office,” Sanders said. “We need to come together at this hard time and become a unit.”
Hate crimes increased by 17 percent in 2017, with 7,175 hate crimes reported that year compared with 6,121 in 2016. The majority of hate crimes targeted victims based on their ethnicity followed by their religion, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program.
SF State biology graduate Valerie Escobar said she believes Trump is to blame for the recent rise in hate crime.
“I think hate crime[s] have never stopped and have been happening every day, but we see it more often now since Trump has become the president,” Escobar said.
During the rally, Sanders addressed his younger supporters and said he would be focusing on raising wages, lowering tuition and supporting rent control.
“Some of you have to work two to three jobs just to pay the bills or put food on the table while others have no intention to work,” Sanders said to the crowd.
Sanders fought for raising the minimum wage during his presidential run in 2016, a position he said he intends on continuing for the 2020 election. Sanders said wages have not kept up with the cost of living across the nation, especially California.
In 2016 more than 2 million Californians between the ages of 25 to 64 are impoverished despite working full-time or part-time jobs, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.
“It should be easier for people to go to school, it should not be this expensive,” Escobar said. “[There should] also be an easier way for people to become a citizen.”
American workers have not seen their wages keep up with increased productivity, with a 77 percent increase in productivity compared to a mere 12.4 percent increase in hourly pay since 1973, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
Sanders said increasing wages would have a positive impact on the economy.
“Americans [could] spend their income more freely on goods and services like clothing, electronics, entertainment and recreation, alleviating the burden of college tuition,” he said.
Sanders faces steep competition against other 2020 presidential contenders such as Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand among others.
Sanders previously lost the Democratic Party nomination for president to Hillary Clinton in 2016, much to the disappointment of his supporters that year.