Bernie Sanders Calls On Democrats In Florida To Get Involved In Local Politics

Apr 20, 2017

No, election season is not over for Democrats. In fact, judging by the crowds and the speeches at the James L. Knight Center in Miami on Wednesday night, you would think it's in full swing. 

More than 2,000 people showed up to hear Vermont senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, along with chair of the National Democratic Committee Tom Perez, at the latest stop of their "Come Together and Fight Back" tour,  aimed at building activism within the Democratic party. 

“People are not involved if you’re not thinking about running for school board, city council, state legislature or whatever it is,” said Sanders. “So what I am imploring you is break through the mold. Do things you have never done before. Get involved in every and any way that you think makes sense.”

Shouts like “Bernie would have won” were heard sporadically from the crowds, filled with mostly Democrats and millennials, who showed strong support for Sanders during last year’s primary elections.

Local speakers at the rally included Miami Commissioner Ken Russell, Miami Shores Councilwoman  Ivonne Ledesma, women’s rights activist Stephanie Myers and Miami-Dade Democratic Chair  Juan Cuba - who spoke  about Miami-Dade Republican state Sen.  Frank Artiles and his recent publicized racial comments made at the members-only Governors Club in Tallahassee.

“Artiles used racial slurs and demeaning language. We cannot let that abuse go unchecked,” Cuba said. “He does not deserve to represent such a diverse community. We must hold him accountable.”

During the Miami event, Sanders reiterated his common campaign messages like tackling Wall Street, adopting universal health insurance, cutting student loan debt and raising the minimum wage.

“Our job is to make it clear that the Democratic Party is on the side of working people, will take on the billionaire class and the drug and pharmaceutical companies, and might I add in Florida the fossil fuel industry as well,” yelled Sanders.

Florida’s lack of sustainable energy initiatives were big points of interest.

“I cannot believe with all of the solar exposure that this state has, how little your utility has done to move this state in sustainable energy,” Sanders said.

Keya Hall, a small business owner from Coral Gables, said she voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the primary election, but she came to the rally to support the Democratic Party.

“I really struggled with choosing between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton during the primary. Now that, you know, things have happened as they have, I wanted to contribute towards making sure the tweeting, the childishness, it doesn’t continue,” Hall said.

Nathalie Ramos, a student from Florida International University studying international relations, was one of the millennials there who supported Sanders during his race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

She said raising the minimum wage could change her life for the better.  She works two jobs, but still can’t find a place to move into with her boyfriend of five years,

“I can see how it’s affecting me personally because I cannot afford a one-bedroom apartment in Miami. So right now is not a time to be lazy. This is a time to actually be active and get ready for the next step, which is revolution,” Ramos said, hinting at the  2018 midterm elections.

Sanders and Perez's next stops include events in Texas, Utah and Nevada.