There are very few things that will prompt millennials out of bed before 10 a.m. Half priced burritos at Chipotle, an existential, anxiety-ridden motivation to have a job and do something with your life, and Bernie Sanders.
On March 25, 2016, over 11,000 people lined up outside of Portland’s Moda Center to watch Vermont senator and presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders speak. Due to the fact that the rally had only been announced two days prior to the event, the turnout was outstanding. The lines formed in the wee hours of the morning and snaked around the building, while volunteers from Oregon and Washington passed around petitions for corporate tax increases and signed up unregistered voters.
This was my first political rally. Not because I hadn’t shown interest in prior elections, but this time I felt I would be witnessing something I hadn’t before. I had seen countless memes of Bernie, throwing around words like socialism, human rights and equality. I would smile and nod, laughing it off because, this isn’t how politics work, right? Call me jaded, but change, wealth equality, universal health care and addressing actual issues without being funded by corporations and super PACs? Not likely. After all, his donations from private individuals only average about $27 each.
After about a four-hour wait, secret service level security and the realization that Sanders wouldn’t be speaking until almost 2 p.m., I grabbed a cup of coffee and picked a seat. “Power to the People” by John Lennon rang from the sound system above.
Like any anticipated rockstar, Sanders had hypemen and opening acts. Zia McCabe, from Portland’s own Dandy Warhols, pledged support “as a woman, a mother and a feminist.”
Sanders took the stage. The entire crowd stood roaring. Despite incorrectly pronouncing Oregon, like Agent Mulder in the first episode of “The X Files,” the crowd was quick to forgive. The event that occurred shortly thereafter would fuel the internet for weeks to come.
A house finch that had been flying around the events center stole the show. The bird landed on Sanders’ podium mid-speech, turning a democratic nominee candidate into a Disney Princess that afternoon. But in true Sanders fashion, he was humble and genuine.
“I think there may be some symbolism here. You know, it doesn’t really look like it, but that bird really is a dove asking us for world peace. No more wars!” Sanders said. The crowd went wild.
I’ve had my doubts, but perhaps a revolution is possible. I think we’ve become so complacent in anticipating that politicians do not have the people’s best interests at heart, that we continue doing the same thing over again in the name of tradition. Much like Daylight Savings, like why do we still do that?
Sanders is a well-seasoned politician and activist; an independent until 2005. He has served as mayor in Vermont, and held seats in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. He was arrested during college in Chicago for being involved in an anti-segregation protest. He is for equal rights, liveable wages and affordable secondary education.
Since the Portland rally, Sanders has won caucuses in Washington, Alaska and Hawaii, a feat many didn’t see coming, especially after Hillary Clinton’s large wins in Arizona and Florida . In a country where we are still dealing with extreme levels of poverty, overwhelming student debt, depletion of the environment, racial tensions and hate, it’s time to reevaluate what we want the future to look like.
I am for fundamental human rights. I am for integrity. I am for the greater good. I am for Bernie Sanders.
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