Sanders energizes young crowd in Ann Arbor, urges them to defeat GOP candidates

By: - November 6, 2022 3:19 am

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks at a rally in Ann Arbor, Mich. on Nov. 5, 2022. (Andrew Roth/Michigan Advance)

Despite rain and high winds outside, a University of Michigan auditorium was packed to capacity Saturday night for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) as he urged young Michiganders to vote for progressive candidates on Tuesday.

“We’re taking on enormously powerful people with unlimited resources … more money than you can possibly dream of,” Sanders told the crowd of more than 1,000 people.

“The good news is, at the end of the day, there are more of us than there are of them.”

Sanders’ Southeast Michigan visit Saturday was part of a national push by progressive groups NextGen and MoveOn to urge young people to vote — and to specifically vote against right-wing Republicans from attaining more political power in the midterms.

Priorities like codifying the reproductive rights established in Roe v. Wade in Congress are possible, Sanders said — “If we have the votes.”

Although Sanders did not mention Proposal 3 by name, Michiganders on Tuesday will vote on the measure that would enshrine abortion rights in the state Constitution.

MoveOn campaign Director Mia Senechal and Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, president of NextGen America, also delivered remarks to the crowd talking up progressive priorities like voting rights, reproductive rights, marijuana decriminalization, affordable education and more. U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Ann Arbor) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) were present at the rally, but did not take the stage.

“The arc of history bends toward justice … but we have to be the ones to bend it,” Ramirez said. 

“We are a million strong, and we have three days until the voters decide the fate of this country.”

Sanders, NextGen and MoveOn have launched a nine-stop national tour in key states. They’ve made two stops in Nevada, one in Texas, three in Wisconsin and have two up next in Pennsylvania.


According to the nonpartisan Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE), youth voter registration in Michigan is up 38% more now than it was prior to the last midterms in November 2018.

In 2018, Michiganders voted for a voting rights constitutional amendment that allows same-day voting registration, no-reason absentee voting, straight-ticket voting and more, which helped boost voter turnout in 2020. 

There’s another voting rights amendment on Tuesday’s ballot, Proposal 2, which would require nine days of early in-person voting, require absentee-ballot drop boxes, only permit election officials may conduct post-election audits and more.

Midterms may not be “sexy,” Sanders said, but he emphasized that they are crucially important nonetheless.

“I’m not here to tell you, not for a second, that I think the Democratic Party is doing anywhere near what it should be doing,” Sanders said. “But … it is absolutely imperative that, up and down the line, we defeat right-wing Republicans and we elect Democrats.”

A large number of GOP candidates for office in Michigan and elsewhere continue to deny that President Joe Biden defeated former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election, and cast doubt on election integrity in general.

Sanders said that it is “cowardly” to deny the validity of elections after losing rather than accepting the results and moving on.

Republican Tudor Dixon, who is challenging Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for the state’s top office, has said she will accept the result of the race if she believes election laws have been followed. She has falsely claimed that Democrats stole the 2020 election and that Trump rightfully won.

The GOP nominees for Michigan attorney general and secretary of state, Matthew DePerno and Kristina Karamo, respectively, have not said they will accept the election results if they lose. They also have falsely claimed Trump won and been part of GOP lawsuits to overturn the 2020 election.

On Tuesday, DePerno is facing Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel and Karamo is trying to oust Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. Nessel, Whitmer and Benson did a rally in Detroit Saturday night with actress Kerry Washington.

Sanders received several standing ovations from the audience during his speech. He spoke on the “existential threat” of climate change, the need to prevent big donors from controlling campaign spending by overturning Citizens United v. FEC, the growing divide of income inequality in America, reproductive freedom at stake and more.

The upcoming election, Sanders said, is “in a very significant way, is about the future of American democracy.”


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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins is a former Michigan Advance reporter. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service.