Bernie Sanders rallies for American dream in Lexington

Marjorie Kirk

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With the May 17 primary approaching and the race for the Democratic candidate for president coming to an end, Sen. Bernie Sanders urged Lexington to take back the American dream from corporations Wednesday night.

During his campaign he has refrained from speaking about the other Democratic candidates, but on Wednesday he assured more than 5,000 people at his rally at the Lexington Center that Donald Trump would not be president.

“Polls are polls, but what is more important, I think, is that Trump does not become president because the American people will never elect a candidate who insults people every single day,” Sanders said as the crowd erupted in cheers. “We’re not going to elect a president who insults Mexicans and Latinos, who insults Muslims, who insults women and veterans, and who insults African-Americans.”

Trump’s campaign has faced criticism for his statements about minorities and women during the Republican debates and television interviews, but Sanders said many have forgotten that he was also at the forefront of the “birther” movement, which was the social campaign that demanded proof from President Barack Obama that he was a U.S. citizen.

“What that ‘birther’ movement was about was a very, very ugly and vicious effort to delegitimize the first African-American president we have ever had,” Sanders said. “But Trump will not become president above and beyond all that because the American people understand a lesson we have struggled with for decades…and that is the understanding that diversity is our strength.”

On Tuesday, the projected frontrunner for the Democratic nomination Hillary Clinton lost the Indiana primary to Sanders, but her husband, former president Bill Clinton, stumped on the lawn of UK’s W.T. Young Library to rally students away from her opponent.

He appealed to the crowd of students through a discussion on their increasing tuition costs, and said that Sanders proposed plan for “tuition free” college was not a feasible option for the U.S., whereas his wife’s plan for “debt free” college was.

Sanders, who did not mention his opponent during the rally, said that the necessity of a college degree to get an adequate job has increased considerably. He compared the future one had a few decades ago with a high school diploma to the future one has with a college degree today.

“Many of those children (of low-income families), the idea of them going—thinking that they can go to college is as likely as them think they are going to go to the moon. It is outside of their world purview,” Sanders said. “What I want to see happen in this country—I want every teacher to know it, every parent to know it, every kid to know it—that if those boys and girls take school seriously, work hard, do well, regardless of the income of their families they will get a college degree.”

Sanders also said that the control exercised by corporations over politics was hurting Americans from all sides, from their unlivable wages to their lack of adequate maternity leave. He pointed out that Kentucky has lost thousands of manufacturing jobs because of trade agreements with China and other countries that utilize cheap labor.

He said his plan for turning the tide in favor of the workers, like the 600 factory workers he mentioned lost their jobs after Fruit of the Loom closed its factory in Jamestown, KY, would be to invest in jobs rebuilding the infrastructure, to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and to change the corporate behavior of outsourcing jobs at the expense of Americans.

“The American dream is parents working hard so their kids will have a better life than they did,” Sanders said. “I will be damned if we are going to see that American dream die now.”