Declaring that he believes them to be the most progressive generation in history, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders told a rally of University of Central Florida students Wednesday that the future is in their hands.
“I happen to believe that the younger generation of America today is the most progressive generation in the history of America,” Sanders said. “You should be very proud of that. You should be proud that you are leading our country in opposition to racism, oppsition to sexism, in opposition to homophobia, in opposition to religious bigotry, and unlike the president of the United States, you know that climate change is real.”
Yet while many polls and social surveys back that up, Sanders and the Democrat he came to promote, Florida gubernatorial nominee Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and everyone else knows that the younger generation also, normally, is the least impactful in elections.
On Wednesday about 400 people, mostly students, filled half the floor and a smattering of seats at the UCF CFE arena, a crowd less than half of the one that came the last time Sanders came to UCF to campaign for Gillum in August. That rousing crowd, which also heard Gillum speak, was perhaps the first major signal that the long-shot Gillum had a real chance to win the Aug. 28 Democratic primary.
Wednesday’s crowd, though drawn by a rally announcement that came just hours before the rally itself, was far short of that. Sanders and the warm-up speakers, who included Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Chris King Democratic attorney general candidate Sean Shaw, state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, and Florida House nominee Anna Eskamani, all laid into the students to vote their progressive values. Afterwards, Smith even led a march from the arena to UCF’s early voting site.
“You are a great and wonderful generation,” Sanders said. “But let me again be very blunt with you about our ideas about economic justice and social justice and environmental justice and racial justice. They don’t mean anything unless participate in the political prociess, unless you come out to vote.”
While Sanders talked briefly about Gillum, he spent much of his speech focusing on issues that he could talk about from a national perspective such as climate change, criminal justice reform, and combating injustice.
It was left largely to Shaw to frame statewide issues, and he framed them as the things that are on the ballot Nov. 6, and to King to go after Gillum’s rival, Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.