Monday, August 10, 2015

Portland feels the Bern!

Bernie takes the stage
Presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders came to the Rose City last night packing Portland's  Moda Center to capacity.

“Whoa. This is an unbelievable turnout,” Bernie said. "You've done it better than anyone else."

Indeed. As as I confidently predicted two days before the event, "Little Beirut" (as George Bush the Elder named us), brought together the biggest crowd for any candidate anywhere at any time so far this election season.

Some 28,000 people showed up at the Moda Center to hear Senator Sanders speak. The crowd overwhelmed the venue's 20,000 seating capacity and dwarfed the 15,000 person turnout in Seattle the day before. Eight to 9 thousand people were turned away at the door. (They didn't get completely shut out, however. Screens in the plaza outside Moda displayed a live video feed.)

Comrade Hauth and I, waiting for Bernie
Fellow left-wing freak David Hauth and myself walked the ~5 miles from my home to Moda Center, arriving 10 minutes before the doors were scheduled to open and over an hour before Bernie was to speak. But even at that early hour a torrent of Bernie supporters was already flooding into the arena. We were lucky enough to snag seats in the 200 level, behind the stage.

The general mood was upbeat and hopeful. These rallies always lift people's spirits. When Bernie took the stage, the crowd roared.

And the roaring continued, as Bernie talked about comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship for undocumented workers, universal healthcare, affordable college education, civil rights, raising the federal minimum wage, and the need to overturn Citizens United.

Yes, we've got the guts to take you on, robber barons!
I shouted myself hoarse early on during the nearly hour-long speech. Bernie's remarks played like music to this progressive. But I honestly believe that if working- and middle-class conservatives are open-minded enough to listen, they might hear a lot that they like as well.

That's what makes the king-makers in both political parties nervous. Bernie's message is not partisan.

Twenty-eight thousand  in and around Moda Center. The biggest turnout of any campaign event anywhere, by any candidate, so far this election season
The conventional wisdom (at least among the national political punditry) is that Bernie can never win the nomination, that the hoopla and enthusiasm are all for naught. Maybe so. But like the 28,000 folks who came to the Moda Center last night, I'm on board with Bernie. Let's see how far we can take this thing.

Highlights from Bernie's speech:

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