Bernie Sanders Rings In New Year In Iowa With 1,000 Supporters

Bernie Sanders celebrated New Year’s Eve in Iowa on Thursday evening. In a press release, the Vermont senator and presidential candidate thanked his supporters for paving the way for the political revolution he has advocated for from the start of his campaign.

During the New Year’s Eve speech, Bernie Sanders encouraged supporters to continue to stump for him because, as he says, this election is not about him, but about the people.

“Together, we have an opportunity to make 2016 a year to remember. You here in Iowa have a chance to make 2016 a year that people in the future will look back on and say, ‘Thank you, Iowa, for leading the political revolution.'”

The crowd at the Renaissance Des Moines Savery Hotel in downtown Des Moines was at least 1,000 strong, taking up two ballrooms for several hours prior to midnight.

He reiterated his vision of a country where the income inequality has ended, a better source for energy, a judicial system that does not support for-profit business, and an incarceration rate that is higher than most major countries in the world.

He stressed the need for activism, and how change won’t happen overnight or without the help of citizens who get fed up enough with the system to fight to make changes.

The press release on his website made this message clear:

“All of this can happen and Iowa is where it can begin. But it won’t happen unless millions of people from Iowa and across the country stand up and say loudly and clearly enough enough is enough.”

Sanders has led a major grassroots effort for spreading the word about his candidacy, and his New Year’s Eve celebration turnout is proof of just how effective these efforts have been. Since Sanders announced his run at the nomination seven months ago, he has generated more than 2.3 million individual donations totaling $41.5 million.

A major source of Sanders’s donations has been the social news site Reddit, which has a thriving community supporting his campaign. As of midnight ET, the site has generated $722,132, just $27,133 short of its $750,000 goal. The r/SandersForPresident subreddit on Thursday was a flurry of activity, with people posting last-minute donations for Bernie Sanders and others posting stories about friends and family members changing parties so they can vote for Sanders in the primaries.

Other users on the sub have posted that their donations to Bernie Sanders are the first time in their lives that they’ve felt motivated enough to give money to a political candidate.

As Bernie Sanders headed to his New Year’s celebration, the social media hashtag called #SandersOnAPlane trended, illustrating just how unlike his corporate-sponsored rivals he is. An image, which has floated around the internet for several weeks, shows Bernie taking a seat in coach class next to his wife, Jane.

During stops earlier in the week leading up to his New Year’s celebration, Sanders attracted a crowd of 500 to an elementary school in Knoxville, Iowa, and then 800 people at an event in Ottumwa, Iowa.

During one of his stops, Sanders thanked Iowa supporters for their efforts.

“We are running a simple, straightforward grassroots campaign. Nothing fancy. We are discussing the major issues facing our country and hearing what Iowans have to say. I am very pleased that the turnouts at our meetings have been large and seem to be getting larger every day. As of the end of the year, we have had town meetings and rallies which have brought out more than 34,000 people. By the end of the campaign here in Iowa I suspect the number will be closer to 50,000.”

Sanders also expressed optimism for his chances at winning Iowa.

“We sense a real growing momentum here in Iowa and we think we have a great opportunity to win.”

As Bernie Sanders’ New Year’s celebration winds down and his supporters head home, the reality of the Iowa caucuses looms. At just one month away, the Sanders campaign has kicked off the new year with a shot of optimism and a chaser of activism.

[Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty]