by Mary Rupert
Brent Welder campaigned for Bernie Sanders in the last election, and on Friday night, Sanders returned the favor, visiting Kansas City, Kansas, to stump for the labor lawyer’s Congressional campaign.
It was perhaps the biggest political celebrity event of the year in Kansas City, Kansas, drawing about 2,000 people in a standing-room-only crowd at the Reardon Convention Center at 5th and Minnesota Avenue. Lines of people waiting to get into the center extended west on Minnesota Avenue and around the corner and north on 6th Street.
Welder wants to be the Democrat to challenge Incumbent Republican Kevin Yoder, who is running for re-election to the 3rd District seat. There are five other Democrats on the Aug. 7 primary ballot. President Donald Trump this week tweeted his support for Yoder. He plans to visit Kansas City, Missouri, on Tuesday on a campaign stop.
Sanders, who ran for president in 2016, losing in the primary to Hillary Clinton, blasted President Trump during his speech. Sanders won Wyandotte County in 2016.
“When Trump ran for president, he said, ‘I am a different type of Republican, and I am not going to cut Social Security and Medicare,’ remember that?” Sanders said.
“Well, he turned out to be the same old type of Republican, because he brought forth a budget a few months ago, and that budget called for a trillion-dollar cut in Medicaid, a $500 billion cut for Medicare and a $60 billion cut for the Social Security disability insurance fund,” Sanders said. Eighty-three percent of the Trump tax bill cut taxes for the top 1 percent, Sanders added.
“I hate to say this, but he lied again,” Sanders said.
Sanders said the plan of the president, as well as those who are running in Trump’s shadow, is that after giving a trillion dollars of tax breaks to the wealthy, “they’re coming back, they’re going to cut Social Security, they’re going to cut Medicare and Medicaid, but they ain’t gonna do it because we’re going to stop them.”
Loud applause and chants of “Bernie” erupted after this statement, and Sanders said, “It’s not Bernie, it is you. I do my job, but you have got to do your job in raging a political revolution, electing Brent and transforming this country.”
“You know people say, ‘Bernie, Alexandria, why are you coming to Kansas? Don’t you know Kansas is a Republican state?’ Well, actually, we do know that,” Sanders said.
“But, what I believe from the bottom of my heart, is I just do not accept what the pundits are talking about when they say ‘blue state’ and ‘red state’ and ‘purple state.’ I don’t believe that. I believe that any state of this country where working people are struggling is a state prepared to fight for justice.”
Also speaking at the campaign rally was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic socialist who won a primary victory over an established Democratic incumbent June 26 in New York.
“The people of Kansas decided that this nation will not be a slave nation,” Ocasio-Cortez said, referring to the pre-Civil War era. It became a crucible of the progressive movement, and a crucible for the conscience of this country, she said.
“And it is the people in this room who are the continuation of this legacy, the continuation of the legacy who will say all men are created equal, the continuation of the legacy who say that social, economic and racial justice is what makes us proud to be Americans,” she said.
She said the Welder campaign will knock on every door in the 3rd District to win back the House.
“It is the people in this room, knocking on 10, 50, 100 doors a piece that is going to get it done,” she said.
“If you have never knocked on a door before, I am talking to you. If you have never picked up a phone to phone bank, I am talking to you. If you have never voted before, I am talking to you. And I am inviting you the table. It is in your hands that the destiny of this nation will be decided,” she said.
Welder is known for his opposition to big corporate donations flowing into political campaigns.
Welder said he wanted to win back the voters who earlier voted for Barack Obama’s populist change and then later voted for Donald Trump’s right-wing rhetoric.
“The Democratic Party can win back these working-class Trump voters,” Welder said.
He said in order to do that, Democrats have to articulate bold progressive economic plans that will help working families.
“The kind of policies that will reverse growing economic disparity, and finally put government back where it belongs, in the hands of the people,” Welder said.
“The hard-working people who bust their butts every day, who shoulder the worry of working harder and harder for stagnating wages, are the same people who get no help whatsoever from our elected officials. The people who need a voice the most, have no voice at all,” Welder said.
“Meanwhile, the billionaires and top executives of giant corporations — the people who rig our economy against the middle class and poor — the people who need a voice in government the least — are the ones who have the only voice in government,” he said.
Two members of the audience who attended this rally, Corey Keller and Miranda Mastin, were from Kansas City, Missouri, and said they attended to see Sanders’ speech.
Another member of the audience, Crysta Commerford of Pleasanton, Kansas, a retired teacher, also wanted to hear Sanders speak. She said she was very worried about where society is now leaving children. There are children now who don’t even have food, she said.
“Our kids are getting lost in this mess,” Commerford said. While she isn’t in Welder’s district, she said her son is in his district and would vote for him.
See earlier stories on the 3rd District campaign at http://wyandottedaily.com/candidates-for-3rd-district-express-views-on-immigration/