Last Friday, I went to the Seattle Mariners’ Safeco Field for the Bernie rally. I stopped at the pub on the way down where the bartender was surprised to see me at 3:00 on a Friday—8:00 on a weekend morning for an Arsenal game is another matter, but this was a weekday. When I told him I was prepping for the rally, he gave me a beer on the house, said he wished he could go too. It was a good start. The Bern runs deep in Seattle, from Safeco Field all the way down to my local pub where it results in complimentary beverages. We did a shot of Fireball as well before I left, which resulted in a different kind of burn.
When I got to Safeco a little after 4:00, the lines were predictably long. There were Bernie chants, people selling Bernie merch, alcohol patrol officers. I checked in through the media entrance and headed to the media area along the first base side of the field. There were already a few thousand in the stands from the look of it. People of all ages and incomes and ethnic groups, A couple women holding up a “Natives For Bernie” sign. There was an air of expectation like one would find at a rock concert for the long awaited chance to see a favorite band. Many in the crowd were standing as though the event, scheduled to start at 7:00, would begin any minute. They couldn’t wait. They looked around. Where was Bernie?
A Seattle band called Tacocat came out and played a few tunes so it did turn into a rock concert. They played a song called “Crimson Wave” which is about menstruation. And this at a presidential rally. It had to be a first in presidential politics as such events usually have songs about America and ‘Merika and freedom and God bless the USA, but Bernie’s campaign is not usual. It’s all about a level playing field. It’s all about a revolution. So yes, let’s sing about menstruation and not forget that those on the other side think it an untidy thing that needs to be hidden away along with all the defunded Planned Parenthood clinics. Well, not on Bernie’s watch.
John Popper from Blues Traveler also came out and played a few songs and did a smoking rendition of the national anthem. True, it’s a typical rally tune, but then why not? Bernie supporters are still patriotic, still American. The revolution isn’t against America. It’s against the corruptness that has come to dominate its politics and the inequalities that corruptness creates and seeks to maintain. So yes, let’s sing the national anthem. Let’s take our country back from the hands of the few and give it to everyone.
When Bernie finally came out there were cheers all throughout his speech, which hit on all his major talking points. It was like a rock star playing the hits for his fans, and like a good song that can be listened to again and again, his speech doesn’t get old. It gets stronger every time, sinks a little deeper every time, the people cheer a little louder every time, and there are more of them. “Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!” I was but a stone’s throw—or in my case a notebook’s throw—from the man and was indeed a bit starstruck. I had the urge to run out there and shake his hand, and while that might have have been good for book sales, it probably wouldn’t have been very good for my health.
My favorite thing he said, though, was the very first thing about how when young he’d had the dream to step up to home plate in a professional baseball stadium with a bat in hand, a helmet on, and swing for the fence. And here he was doing it. Here he was stepping up to home plate. Here he was getting ready to hit one out of the park. He’s done his bit. After a lifetime of public service, he’s ready. Now, we just have to make sure he gets the chance to point to the left field bleachers, raise his bat, step into a fastball, and slam one into the crowd eagerly waiting there.
The next day—at the pub again for the England Germany friendly—I ran into a friend who’d been at the rally. He’s probably sixty or a little older and as such defies the stereotype that republicans—and probably Hillary supporters—like to use to portray Bernie supporters, that being the idea of the young lazy millennials who want everything handed to them for free. I don’t fit that profile either. I’m 46. I went to college. I have a job. I can think for myself. My friend is the same. When I asked him about the rally though, he said he was disappointed in the turnout.
“Yeah, I was hoping for more people.”
I had to remind him that with barely over two days notice, 15,000 people showed up. 15,000. Young. Old. Male. Female. LGBT and Straight. Black. White. Asian. Native American. Indian. Middle Eastern. All kinds of people. None of them lazy or looking for handouts. They just want a better America, one with a level playing field. 15,000 such people on such short notice. Let’s see Hillary or Trump or Cruz do that.
Check out our photo gallery of the rally HERE