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Proving Kansas Is Hungry for Democratic Socialism, Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez Sold-Out Rally Moved to Much Larger Venue

"What we fight for is not just popular in Vermont, Queens, and the Bronx, it's popular everywhere."

"When we fight fearlessly for working class Americans, we can change our country for the better," said Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. (Photos: Gary Miller/FilmMagic/Getty Images; Andres Kudacki for The Intercept)

Democratic socialists Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) are on a mission to debunk doubters and conclusively show that a bold progressive agenda can spark enthusiasm and win elections in the Midwest.

Helping to prove their case, organizers were forced to relocate one of the pair's joint rallies in Kansas on Friday afternoon after ticket sign-ups—as often happened during Sanders' 2016 presidential run—rapidly exceeded venue capacity.

"When we fight fearlessly for working class Americans, we can change our country for the better."
—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

"What we fight for is not just popular in Vermont, Queens and the Bronx, it's popular everywhere," Sanders declared in a tweet promoting Friday's events, which were organized to boost progressive congressional candidates James Thompson and Brent Welder.

As the local Witchita Eagle reports, the rally for Thompson scheduled for Friday afternoon was initially slated to take place in the Orpheum Theatre, which can accomodate a crowd of 1,400 people.

"But the number of sign-ups for tickets exceeded capacity within 10 hours of the announcement," the Eagle reported. The new venue, the Century II arena, can hold up to 5,000.

In an email to supporters ahead of Friday's events, Ocasio-Cortez—who decisively defeated powerful Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley in New York's primary last month—argued that victories for progressives in the home state of oil moguls Charles and David Koch will "prove that the majority of Americans are with us on the policies," not the billionaire class.

"Americans support Medicare for All, expanding Social Security benefits, gun reform, debt-free college, and a $15 minimum wage," Ocasio-Cortez wrote.

Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez are setting out to demonstrate that their agenda has appeal beyond Vermont and the Bronx at a time when many within the Democratic Party are handwringing about the dangers of moving "too far" to the left and dismissing arguments that there is widespread hunger for democratic socialism throughout the United States.

"I don't think that you can go too far to the left and still win the Midwest," Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) asserted in a recent interview.

Victories for Welder and Thompson—who are both running on ambitious platforms of Medicare for All, a living wage, and tuition-free public college—would provide further evidence that this sentiment pushed by corporate Democrats is false.

"We want to prove this proposition, from Nebraska to Kansas to Orange County, that the way to attract votes is with a bold populist economic message," Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said in an interview with The Intercept. "It's not a liability, it's an asset."

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