MASON CITY | U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders called for a "political revolution" Sunday night to have a government that represents more than just the rich and powerful.
Sanders, I-Vermont, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, spoke to a cheering crowd of about 600 in the North Iowa Auditorium at North Iowa Area Community College.
"Greed is destroying this country," said Sanders. "We must take on this billionaire class and it can only be done if millions band together and demand a government that represents all of us instead of just the top 1 percent."
He cited several of his campaign themes — that the top one-tenth of 1 percent of the people have almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent; that 58 percent of all new income since the most recent Wall Street crash has gone to the top 1 percent of the wealthy; that there is the most income inequality today that there has been since 1928.
"It is a rigged economy," he said. "Heads they win, tails you lose."
Sanders said while the unemployment rate in the U.S. is now at 5.1 percent, the unemployment rate among young people is skyrocketing and it is higher for Hispanics and African Americans than for white people.
"We are turning our backs on a whole generation," he said. "And there is a definite connection between the youth unemployment and the fact we have more people in jail in this country than any other country in the world.
"It makes more sense to invest in education and jobs than in jails and incarceration," he said.
He offered several plans to correct the nation's ills. Among them:
• Raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next few years.
• Three months of paid family/medical leave after the birth of a child.
• Tuition-free public college education for all students.
• A massive federal jobs program fixing the crumbling infrastructure throughout the country that would create millions of jobs.
• Public funding of elections.
• Eliminating trade deals that induce American companies to move plants abroad.
Sanders also hit on two social issues in which he took aim at Republicans.
"When Republicans talk about family values, what they mean is a woman shouldn't have control over her own body. I disagree," he said.
"Republicans believe our gay friends shouldn't get married. I disagree," he said again.
He said he was proud to be the only non-billionaire presidential candidate who was not taking any money from political action committees (PACs and SuperPACs).
"One of the reasons we're doing so well is we're not doing anything fancy, he said. "There are no marching bands. We are simply taking our case to the people."