Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) laid out his bold visions for America during a campaign rally in Chicago on Sunday, reiterating promises to enact Medicare-for-all, fund free public colleges and rein in the billionaire class, while pledging a political revolution should he be elected president in 2020.
“Three years ago they thought that we were kind of crazy and extreme; not the case anymore,” Sanders told a crowd of more than 12,000 people gathered at Chicago’s Navy Pier. “Three years ago the ideas that we brought forth … were rejected by Democrats. Not anymore. We have begun the political revolution and now we’re going to complete it.”
The stop came amid a whirlwind campaign rollout for the Vermont lawmaker this weekend. On Saturday, Sanders spoke to supporters in Brooklyn about his modest childhood in New York living in a rent-controlled apartment. The speech reflected a change for the senator as he revealed a more personal side, something he mostly avoided in his first bid for the White House but is now emphasizing to differentiate his upbringing from the life of privilege led by President Donald Trump.
“I did not have a father who gave me millions of dollars to build luxury skyscrapers, casinos and country clubs. I did not come from a family that gave me a $200,000 allowance every year beginning at the age of 3. As I recall, my allowance was 25 cents a week.” Sanders said. “But I had something more valuable: I had the role model of a father who had unbelievable courage in journeying across an ocean, with no money in his pocket, to start a new and better life.”
Sanders continued that trend on Sunday, speaking at length about his years living in the city after transferring to the University of Chicago in the 1960s. He described his early introduction to activism, including his efforts to protest segregation in the city that resulted in an arrest, and said “one of the proudest” days in his life was in Washington during Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech.
“The reason I tell you all of this is because my activities here in Chicago taught me a very important lesson,” Sanders said. “Whether it is the struggle is against racism, or sexism, or corporate greed, or homophobia, environmental devastation, or war and militarism or religious bigotry — real change never takes place from the top on down. It always takes place from the bottom on up.”
Sanders spent Sunday morning in Selma, Alabama alongside several other Democrats who have announced their bids for the White House. He addressed the growth of xenophobia and division in America in recent years, saying that while the country has moved forward since the civil rights movement, there was still work to be done.
The lawmaker has been working to address the concerns of African American voters from his 2016 bid after trailing behind his then-challenger, Hillary Clinton. He ultimately lost the Democratic nomination, but said he hoped to build on the groundswell of support he held during his first run. His campaign raised nearly $6 million in the first 24 hours after Sanders announced from more than 223,000 individuals.
“The whole point of the political revolution is that nobody, not Bernie or anybody else, can do it alone,” Sanders said Sunday. “We have got to do it together, by the millions.”