Bernie Sanders held a rally at Santa Monica High School Friday evening.

Senator Bernie Sanders seemed radical when he first spoke at Santa Monica High School during his 2016 campaign.

Over the past three years, Sanders’ platforms have become mainstream in the Democratic Party, including among his fellow candidates in the 2020 primaries.

“That seemed radical at the time,” Sanders told the crowd at Samohi over and over again Friday evening as he discussed many of his signature policies.

The 77-year-old presidential candidate addressed an energized crowd at Samohi’s Memorial Greek Amphitheater, pledging to take on the health insurance, pharmaceutical and fossil fuel industries, break up Wall Street and guarantee Medicare and free college for all. He also spoke in support of immigration reform, ending mass incarceration and a federal $15 minimum wage.

While he denounced President Donald Trump several times, earning cheers from the crowd, Sanders mainly focused on his usual policy proposals and how to combat income inequality, racism and xenophobia. 

“This country is moving toward an oligarchic form of society,” he said. “And I’ll tell you what oligarchy is about, and you won’t see it on CBS, or NBC or ABC tonight, but what oligarchy is about is three people in America owning more wealth than the bottom half of the American people, and tonight, half a million people will be sleeping out on the streets.”

The Vermont senator touched on the affordable housing crisis in California, saying that part of his $1 trillion infrastructure plan includes building millions of affordable housing units. But he also delved into local politics by endorsing a “Hotel Housekeepers’ Bill of Rights” the Santa Monica City Council will vote on next month. 

Susan Minato of the union UNITE HERE Local 11 told the rally before Sanders came onstage that he endorsed the proposed law, which would require non-unionized hotels to provide housekeepers with panic buttons and other protections from sexual assault, fair compensation for heavy workloads, job security and training.

Other organizations that have endorsed the ordinance include the Santa Monica Democratic Club, Democratic Socialists of America – Los Angeles and several UCLA School of Law groups. 

Local hotels are organizing against the measure before it goes before the city council in late August, however. In May, the Hotel Association of Los Angeles released a report claiming the law would be duplicative of state laws on sexual harassment training and cut into hotel profits.

Sanders said Friday that his campaign is about redefining the basic economic rights of human beings.

“In this country, it must be a human right for all of our people to have access to a decent paying job,” he said. “It is a human right to have healthcare and be able to go to the doctor when you need to. It is a human right to have quality education and be able to get all the education that you need, regardless of your income.”

Many people who attended the rally said they had supported Sanders since his first presidential campaign in 2016 and believe he is the only candidate in a crowded Democratic field who can beat Trump in the general election.

Reina Quintanilla of Van Nuys, Calif. said she supports Sanders because he has remained politically consistent during his decades in office as a mayor, congressman and senator. 

“He’s the only one that’s been consistent over the decades,” Quintanilla said. “Clearly, he’s the strongest candidate against Trump.”

Jonathan Ponce, Victorville, Calif. said he thinks Sanders has gained momentum since his first presidential run, despite the fact that he has fallen behind former Vice President Joe Biden in the polls and has fallen behind several rivals in recent fundraising.

“Bernie has the strongest grassroots organization out there, and he has the best chance of defeating Donald Trump,” Ponce said.

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  1. I have a question. When candidates speak at SAMOHI, do they pay anything for the use of the venue? And if so, how much do they pay?

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