Sen. Bernie Sanders pushed progressives to reclaim the Democratic Party when he appeared with Sen. Elizabeth Warren at the Our Revolution in Boston on Friday night.
To the crowd’s delight, Sanders continued to promote the changes in healthcare and public education that were staples of his presidential platform, backing the rhetoric up with promises of legislation.
“I will be introducing legislation to make public colleges and universities tuition-free,” Sanders said, prompting the audience to spring up from their seats, clapping and cheering.
“I will tell you exactly and gleefully how we’re going to pay for it,” he continued, “We’re going to put a tax on Wall Street speculation.”
Sanders along with Warren criticized the new administration, congratulated the public for successfully fighting the Republicans’ failed healthcare bill and encouraged progressive supporters at the rally to keep on organizing and fighting.
“We got organized after the election and what we started pushing is you can’t repeal and run, that’s for cowards,” Warren told the crowd, “You have to repeal and replace.”
Both the senators are known for their outspoken liberal opinions, but Warren did not endorse Sanders in the 2016 Democratic Primaries. At the rally, they finally seemed to form a united front to push progressive values into congress.
“Bernie Sanders fights for what’s right and he fights from the heart,” Warren said in her introduction of the Vermont senator.
“You can tell the quality of a person by the enemies she makes,” Sanders said, returning the praise, “To her credit, Elizabeth Warren has made some wonderful enemies.”
One major topic of both their speeches was healthcare. Warren’s speech revolved around highlighting the flaws of the Republican replacement for Obamacare. “Had they repealed, the rest of us would be standing there with our begging bowls hoping for crumbs in what little bits of healthcare they might permit Americans to have,” she said.
Sanders focused on the future, reassuring the crowd that healthcare for everyone was a part of his plan.
“It wasn’t that Donald Trump won the election, it was that the Democratic party lost the election,” Sanders said, as a man yelled, “Bernie 2020!” and the crowd went wild. “The time is long overdue for the fundamental restructuring of the Democratic Party.”
Besides speeches from Sanders and Warren, local activists from Raise UP Massachusetts, the Jobs Not Jails Coalition and immigrants’ rights groups spoke on issues like prison reform and immigrant protection.
The crowd’s reactions to the all night’s speeches were enthusiastic and hopeful. Sanders’ comment about restructuring the Democratic Party seemed to them as a positive deviation from his campaign speeches.
“I felt really invigorated by what he had to say,” said healthcare worker Leona Ponce. “I also think it’s necessary to withdraw multiple-payer system,” she said, “It’s so confusing to everyone, nobody knows who’s paying for what.”
Virginia Richmond from Dorchester was in deep discussion with her companions about the rally.
“I disagree that the Democratic party can be reformed,” she said. “I think he should run as an independent.” She thought Sanders had successfully reached the masses with the Democratic platform, and that he needed to run on his own.
“I liked the pragmatic part, like the ways to get involved,” Richmond’s friend Matt Vanhamersveld from Salem said.
The two liberal senators got their message through to the public present at the Orpheum theatre successfully, but are certain to face opposition in the Senate and new challenges come re-election time next year.
“They got the money but we’ve got the people,” Sanders said, concluding his speech with a message to Donald Trump and the Republicans “We’re going to stand together and we’re going to take you on.”
As for the crowd, he told them, “We are going to create the nation that we all know we can become.”