Idaho Presidential Primary: State “Berns” Up

Idaho often burns up in the summer, but this week it was a different kind of “Bern”: Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

Yesterday, Sanders, via a live-stream event, drew good-sized crowds in Boise, Post Falls, Moscow, and Pocatello (and perhaps other places). Idaho Democrats in attendance confirmed that they are seeing Democrats who they’ve never seen before.

In Boise, about 250 folks turned out. Pocatello had near 70. Facebook posts report 150 in Post Falls. Moscow had about 40 signed up for their Bernie event. Here’s a link to one of the Idaho for Bernie Sanders Facebook pages if you want to see what’s happening.

PLEASE NOTE: The IDP maintains neutrality in primary races. But when a candidate is hauling in crowds, such as Sanders, we want people to know about.

Presidential years are opportunities for Idaho Dems to engage folks who aren’t familiar with how important our Party is to everyday Idahoans. We encourage all of our members to get engaged, reach out, and welcome new energy to our Party!

Here’s a report on the Pocatello event, which also received live televised news coverage, from the Idaho State Journal:

Sanders reaches out to Pocatello Democrats

By Michael H. O’Donnell | Idaho State Journal | July 31, 2015

POCATELLO — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders doesn’t mince words when it comes to what needs to be done in this country, and he hopes he’s the man to see that it happens.

“The American people are saying loudly and clearly, ‘Enough is enough,’” Sanders told those packed into the Democratic Headquarters on Yellowstone Avenue. The U.S. Senator from Vermont said he was sending the same call to build a grassroots effort to 3,500 locations in all 50 states at the same time.

“This is an historical night,” Sanders said before asking everyone listening to his message to sign up and become active in the upcoming presidential race.

Sanders said so far in his campaign he has received 435,000 individual contributions and contrasted this to the handful of big-money donors who are backing others in the race.

“This country belongs to all of us, not a handful of billionaires,” Sanders said, drawing applause and cheers from the Pocatello Democrats.

The champion of socialist policies, who has drawn large crowds throughout the country at live speaking engagements, said there is something wrong when the richest country in the world has more children living in poverty than any other industrialized nation.

He said America needs to reverse a 40-year decline in the middle class.

Sanders called the existing federal minimum wage of $7.50 a “starvation minimum wage.”

“We need to raise that minimum wage to $15 and up,” Sanders said.

He also called for free tuition at public colleges and universities in the U.S. and said, “Instead of throwing our kids in jail, maybe we should provide them with education and hope.”

Sanders also called for real campaign financing reform in this country and said the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United set the stage for billionaires to buy elections.

Sanders also touted a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants to the U.S. and comprehensive immigration reform. He said about 11 million of these immigrants are now “living in the shadows.”

Sanders said all American workers are entitled to medical and family leave, paid sick leave and paid vacation time. He also said it is time to provide medical care to all Americans, and he supports a single-payer system similar to Medicare for all U.S. citizens.

The candidate went on to say that the only way average Americans could combat the big money from the billionaire class and corporate America was a “strong grassroots movement of millions and millions of people.”

Sanders said it’s time to stop focusing on issues that divide the nation like abortion and gun control and start focusing on common ground.

“When we stand together, there is nothing we can’t accomplish,” Sanders said.

After Sanders’ televised call to action, former Idaho president of the Communication Workers of America Larry Cohen echoed the sentiments.

“This is a political revolution, but we have to build it,” Cohen said. “It’s all about our energy and our work.”

Democratic Legislative Chairman for District 28, Mike Saville of Lava Hot Springs agreed.

“You’ve got to show up folks,” Saville said.

Saville said about half the voters in Idaho are between 18 and 45 years of age, but during the last election 70 percent of those who voted were between 46 and 80-plus years of age. He said Idahoans have to stop listening to a steady stream of only one political ideology and start looking at what’s best for the future.

“We can’t vote based on fears and what-ifs,” Saville said.

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