Image: MidwestDem captured this image of the overflow section of a Sanders 2016 Rally in Minneapolis
Watch out Hillary, Bernie is for real! I attended a Sanders’ campaign event this morning and I was in awe by how large the crowd was and the make up of the crowd. Sanders addressed this crowd at the American Indian Center in Minneapolis, MN. I spoke to his campaign staff and they were couldn’t have been happier with the turnout. Sanders spoke inside of an auditorium that was at capacity and an overflow crowd was sat outside just to hear his message. I spoke to campaign staff and they said they estimated that there were “3,500-4,000 people in attendance.” When I saw he was coming I predicted that the crowd was going to be small (my prediction was less than 1,000), but I was blown away with the attendance. They did this with very little advertising, it appeared to me to be very large grassroots crowd. I did not hear one radio advertisement, I found out through a national Facebook page (to be fair, I bet that they did spend a bit on traditional media). More shocking that the crowd size was the demographic make up of his audience, it was very white, and very middle class. There were people there that you would expect to see at a Sanders’ rally, but they (hippies) were greatly outnumbered. Bernie and his staff mobilized a very middle class rally.
Now onto the substance of his speech; it was pretty much what you expected, he talked about income inequality and the need to close the income gap to cheers. He talked about the Koch brothers and the need for campaign finance reform. He also talked about climate change and said that now is the time to take action. He even dabble in local politics and talked about the need for universal pre-k. To my appeasement he talked about the need to lower interest on student loans. Hopefully Bernie keeps talking about this so we can have a national conversation about the need to stop cutting taxes for the uber rich, and start providing relief to students who are paying over ridiculous interests amounts on student loans.
My overall takeaway was positive. He mobilized a powerful crowd and stuck to his message. He sill has a long way to go to catch Hillary, but there still is a long time left. Even if Bernie doesn’t win the nomination, he is doing us all a great favor by keeping campaign finance reform and our growing income inequality in the national conversation. We have been listening to conservative rhetoric for way to long and it is about time we heard from progressive candidates rather than the side show that republicans call their primary.