A Mainstream reporter attended a Bernie Sanders rally prior to the primary election.
Thousands came to Salem Tuesday, May 10 to witness Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders rally for votes in the Oregon primary on May 17.
Sanders, who met with a full house – and then some – began his speech with gratitude. “It sure sounds like Salem, Oregon is ready for the political revolution,” stated Sanders.
Like with most of the late rallies held by the remaining candidates, attendees had to wait in a long line to get in. People attending the rally consisted of mostly Millennials and Hippy Boomers. Several children were also in attendance, with the occasional Gen X’er here and there.
With spring temperatures rivaling Oregon summer heat, facilitators of the event were attentive to the safety of rally-goers. Staffers combed the line pulling groups of seniors and people with small children from the line to escort them in out of the heat.
Some of the many remaining people left in line got to know the persons standing next to them, and many of their conversations were about political issues. Two people were having discussions about Monsanto and sharing negative comments about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Environmentalism was also a waiting line conversation topic as one person noted, “I wish they had water to sell while we are in line, just as long as it’s not Nestle water.”
Many petitioners roamed up and down the waiting line hustling rally-goers to sign a petition for one cause or another. One women when confronted by the petitioners asked, “Which petition is it? I have signed most of them online.” After her comment, a young male trolled the line for donations to support kids.
Nearing the front of the line, rally goers, some who were visibly frustrated and hot, were entertained by street musicians. Others were entertained, literally, by a pile of trash labeled “Britbart” (sic) poking fun at the right wing media group, Breitbart.
Doors for the rally opened at 4 p.m.; however, people were still lined up outside the gate minutes before Sanders took the stage. Those in line at that time were corralled into an overflow area. The 200 people who made it too late to see Sanders speak, were treated to a sound system speech and a peek through some doors.
Nearing the beginning of the rally, a folk band and orators provided entertainment. While the folk band played, they asked the crowd if they wanted more; one person in overflow shouted “no” as others laughed in possible agreement.
Two presenters took the stage before Sanders to warm up the crowd. During this time, a rumor had spread around the overflow area that Sanders was going to treat them to an exclusive visit. Those who fell for it gathered around a security gate to nowhere.
Sanders then began his rally discussing his latest wins, then turned his attention to give a five minute attack against Trump. Cleverly segueing, “and the American people understand that bringing us together always trumps dividing us up” said Sanders. He followed up that transition with “love always trumps hatred.”
Transitioning away from the rhetoric sure to please the crowd, Sanders began to discuss the topic of veterans, but the crowd enthusiasm waned. Only a small amount of cheers were given when the topic came up, “We are telling the truth even when the truth is unpleasant. I have always believed that is it is far more important to deal with unpleasant truths than just to sweep them under the rug. And let me discuss with you some of the truths that we have got to address as Americans. Number One — Men and women fought and died to help preserve American Democracy,” Sanders stated as the crowd cheered slightly. “And we owe our veterans a debt of gratitude that we can never repay,” Sanders stated to only slightly more cheering. “And that is why I regard it as appalling that today we have a campaign finance system which is corrupt and undermining American democracy,” cried Sanders drawing the largest cheer. Cheers grew as the statements from there focused on attacks against Wall Street, Citizens United and the 1%.
Sanders continued on with the topic of inequality in America. He made some quick comparisons of wealth inequality, bringing up the retailer, Walmart. According to Sanders, Walmart as one family company owns more wealth than the bottom 40% of the American people “The Waltons own Walmart, the largest private sector employer in this country,” claimed Sanders. “But they pay their workers wages that are so low that many of their employees are forced to go on food stamps and Medicaid,” Sanders added as the crowd erupted with boos. “And you know who pays for those food stamps and Medicaid? You do,” concluded Sanders as crowds cheered back in agreement. He wrapped up that part of his speech with reinforcing his promise to invest in young people with jobs and education.
Sanders’ campaign is about education, not jail, to reform the criminal justice system. He referred to his work with police officers as mayor of Burlington, Vermont, to discuss his belief that officers who break the law must be held accountable. “We got to demilitarize police departments. End corporate ownership of detention centers and prisons.”
Sanders also said that he wants to end the war on drugs, quoting statistics on marijuana arrests “We will take marijuana out of the federal controlled substance act” Sanders said. Going on to addressing the Opiate Crisis, Sanders pointed out that addiction is a health issue not a criminal one, and he called for a revolution in mental health treatment in this country. “If you are addicted, you should be able to get help today, not six months from today,” stated Sanders.
Sanders continued on with an issue that he and his supporters have shown agreement on: they believe the federal minimum wage should be $15 per hour. He also went on with his recurring themes regarding immigration and student debt. He spoke on behalf of minorities, referring to Hispanics and Native Americans. “Native Americans have provided so much. We have a debt to them we can never ever repay,” Sanders said.
With about 15 minutes left of his speech, Sanders went on to discuss the healthcare system in America, first comparing the U.S. to other countries then on to describing his plan. In trying to encourage an entrepreneurial spirit in healthcare, Sanders said, “And when we pass a Medicare for All system, it will mean that millions of people no longer have to stay on jobs they don’t like simply because they’re getting good health insurance,” Sanders stated, drawing cheers from some, odd looks from others.
From there, Sanders reinforced his convictions and reminded attendees of the growing momentum the campaign has because of voter turnout.
While waiting for the Democratic candidate to hopefully come greet them, those still in overflow rocked out to songs from Prince and the Gen X Punk Rock anthem, “Kill the Poor” by Dead Kennedys. Then the speaker shut off, and a Secret Service agent kicked the item that had been propping the door open to Sanders’s supposed greeting entrance. The door shut, and the event was over.