Feelin’ the Bern

On Saturday night I got to be a part of history. I went to see Bernie Sanders speak at the Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion here in Seattle. It was a seminal moment. Socialism has never been a strong movement in this country, but it does tend to surge when the upper classes begin to behave more abominably. So it’s surging now.

I arrived a couple hours early, and still the line was a half mile long, wrapping around Husky Stadium next door. You could feel the electricity in the air. The crowd around me was discussing the fact that Sanders’ afternoon speech was disrupted by the Black Lives Matter movement. I’ll write more about that tomorrow.

People were walking up and down the line asking us to sign petitions. I signed one to put something on the state ballot to address electoral reform. (Would that I could have signed it twice.) Others were handing out flyers. One was by Kshama Sawant, our city council member who is a member of the Socialist Alternative party (God, how I love Seattle) and it was very supportive of Sanders. Another was by the Freedom Socialist party, and it was very critical of him, which seems counterproductive. I mean, yes, he hardly toes the party line, but at least he’s a step in the right direction.

And of course, there were protesters. One group was rallying for rent control (yeah, buddy!) and another was pro Palestine. As I stood there, gazing at all these people with their valid causes, I was feeling grateful that we live in a country were these opinions can be voiced.

Finally we got inside, and I was relegated to the nosebleed section, but I was just glad to be there. I saved two seats for some friends who weren’t allowed in after all, and they wound up being the only two empty seats in the entire arena. 12,000 people packed it, and another 3,000 people listened from outside while I sat next to my two empty seats feeling sheepish.

This was taken by my friend Amy, who couldn't actually come inside for the crowd, but Bernie, being a man of the people, came to her.
This was taken by my friend Amy, who couldn’t actually come inside for the crowd, but Bernie, being a man of the people, came to her.

There were about 5 speakers before Bernie, each promoting him or herself and whipping up enthusiasm for the main attraction. I didn’t even get their names, frankly. I couldn’t be bothered. They were just filler, and I got the sense that the crowd viewed them as a waste of time. I know I did. It was hot in there and we were impatient.

Then out came Bernie Sanders. This sloppy little man looks exactly like that neighbor you used to have who would shout at kids for playing on his front lawn, and confiscate all the balls that flew into his back yard. You know the one. And the crowd erupted in deafening cheers.

When he spoke, calling us brothers and sisters, he said all the right things. He said he had more individual donors than any other campaign. (To add yourself to this extremely wonderful group of individuals, go here.) He railed against big money and corporate greed. He talked about racism and income inequality. He said that the billionaire class needs to pay its fair share of taxes. He supported marriage equality, and glory, glory hallelujah, he acknowledged the fact of global climate change. He discussed the need for prison reform and a minimum wage increase. He laughed at the Republican concept of family values with its obvious disdain for women’s rights.

I have to admit that I was swept up in the enthusiasm. I had never before been in such a large group of people who think like I do. I never experienced this in all my years mired in the ignorant cultural backwater that is Florida.

But then something came over me. Maybe it was the heat and the crowd. Maybe it was the fact that I had walked a mile and a half to get there because parking in this town absolutely sucks. Maybe it was the fact that I’d worked all day and then had to kill about 3 hours of time before entering the arena, and had not been able to convince anyone to go with me. Or maybe it was the fact that the creepy guy behind me kept “accidentally” stroking my hair.

Suddenly I looked around and realized there was a distinct lack of faces of color in the crowd, despite all the cheering for immigration reform and an end to racism. I also kind of got a bitter taste in my mouth, knowing that these people, who were enthusiastically supporting Bernie’s bashing of the Billionaire class, were going to go home to their million dollar houses in downtown Seattle, and that I’d never ever afford to become one of their neighbors. It must be a lot easier to sit up there and support the causes that may or may not help the people sitting down here.

I support Bernie Sanders because I have to. He’s the only candidate for president who seems to give a shit about me and my situation. He seems to be the only one who cares enough to try to make my life better. I’ll vote for him in the democratic primary to send a message that I’m sick and tired of the way the political system is going in this country. I’m fed up. I’ve had it. Maybe my vote will make the Democratic Party blink, and realize that we are sick of the moderation.

But I don’t think he’ll win. Not in a million years. There are too many ignorant voters out there who buy into the paid political advertising.

And if by some miracle he does manage to win, we’ve already seen what happens to presidents who have absolutely no support. We’d be treated to a 4 year long filibuster. As hard as he’d try, and as much as we’d want him to succeed, nothing would happen.

So I left early. Bernie had me at hello and he made no promises, which is admirable in a politician. He’s got my vote. But I just couldn’t sit there anymore and listen to a view of utopia that I long for with all my heart and soul, but am fairly certain I will never get to experience.

With a magnifying glass, you might be able to see me in the extreme upper left corner of this picture.
With a magnifying glass, you might be able to see me in the extreme upper left corner of this picture.
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14 thoughts on “Feelin’ the Bern

  1. Carole Lewis

    And so it goes. In the case if Trump, he is saying what so many are thinking, but are afraid of saying. But for every vile sentence that spews forth, the cheers from the crowd are harder to take.
    One person’s arrogance can be shot down, but if it is backed by hundreds, well then the words take a power of their own. Women have suffered at the whim of the Republicans and this will probably continue. Mr. Trump will not suffer much. If men were the naysayers, well then maybe, but women will not be able to knock him from his new found throne, while thousands of men cheer and clap at his words.

    Mr. Sanders, I can’t say, I hope he makes a dent in the fans of both parties. We Americans need fresh political air. and someone as fed up as we are. I was a true admirer of Trump the Business Man, but I am losing the love, rapidly.

    PS

    Fot Sale
    NEW! Two talking Trump Dolls, and Trump the Game

    Mr. Trump… “You’re Fired!”

  2. Seattle Park Lover

    I thought I’d let you know that, unless something has changed since last time that I didn’t hear about, the Democrats in Washington use caucuses to choose the presidential nominee. It’s a bit confusing here because a few years ago the Republicans switched to using a primary instead of the caucus, but the Democrats haven’t. So there is a state primary vote and Democrat candidates are on it, but the party doesn’t use those votes. If you want to be counted you have to plan to show up on caucus night. Figured you might want to know ahead of time so you won’t feel blind-sided when it’s time. 🙂

    Normally it doesn’t matter anyway. Washington is so late in the schedule that the nominee is usually already clearly decided before it’s our turn. That’s one of the reasons the 2012 campaign was so exciting for Democrats in our state. Not only were we participating in a historic choice between a woman and a bi-racial black man, but the race was so close that our votes actually helped decide the winner. I’m not sure when it was the last time that was true, but it was a very long time. We set statewide caucus attendance records in 2012, in some places doubling previous records.

  3. florenceforbernie

    I too was in the audience and I can tell you there was plenty of color on the floor and around me (not only blacks in attendance). The man in front of me was Iranian and I saw several folks from India there. I was seated directly behind Bernie in the bleachers (which means on camera the whole time). The other point I would like to make was that on Bernie’s points about civil and social rights he did draw the largest applause. Just because the room wasn’t filled with only black American’s do not think that we are not in agreement that things in this country need to change. It is why we were there. Bernie is the only candidate who will and can make that change. When more people learn who is funneling money into the BLM movement (George Soros) and they learn of his hate and racist stance on issues they will see his agenda is to get Hillary not only the nomination but the Presidency as well. We cannot let that happen. She owes too many people with big money too much. We cannot afford to find out exactly what she owes and to whom. We must take our country back. So instead of being disgusted by seeing white faces in support of Bernie, instead you should be seeing that all those white faces agree with him on issues that affect ALL Americans. #FeelTheBern #Bernie2016 #WeStandTogether

    1. That’s a relief to hear, Florence, because from where I sat I was gazing out at a sea of white. And yes, I do agree that everyone there agreed with him. No doubt. But I still maintain that it’s easy to agree when you’re coming from a place of comfort. Much harder to take a stand when you’re down in the struggle. Just my opinion, though. Thanks for sharing1

  4. I like Bernie Sanders. He is pulling in very large diverse crowds of middle class people. He is speaking and addressing the views we strongly want and need. He will never get on the ticket, however, because of his faith and age. I am sick and tired of all the bigotry, disrespect and child-like behavior with all the candidates. We will never get a candidate to help the middle class because the powers to be in government and big business will not allow it.

  5. Liz

    I am so not political, I am happy to vote for a woman as I was happy to vote for for a black man. I feel pretty ridiculous even responding, but I do share a lot of your ideas.

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