I spent two hours yesterday holding a banner (joined by eight others with signs and a 2nd banner) outside the Bernie Sanders for President rally in Portland, Maine that reportedly drew about 9,000 people. It was an impressive crowd for someone who once claimed he was a ‘socialist’.
People began lining up before 5:00 pm for the 7:00 event and during those two hours I kept a steady stream of requests going to folks as they entered the Portland Civic Center. I suggested to eager Sanders supporters, “Please ask Bernie his position on the $400 billion F-35 fighter plane project. Ask him if it is true that he has lobbied to bring the plane to Vermont?”
I suggested to the excited crowd, with many young people in line, that they might ask Sanders, “His position on NATO expansion up to Russia’s border – can we really afford war with Russia?”
“Informed citizens need to know the answers to Bernie’s foreign policy – he’s not talking about these issues,” I said.
Once the line had ended I folded up my banner and made a dash inside just as the rally was starting. All seats in the arena were taken and the entry onto the floor was blocked but I wedged my way down onto the hockey stadium floor within 25 feet of the stage that Sanders was speaking from. The candidate was getting huge applause as he took on Wall St, the Koch brothers, income inequality and the like. He touched on all the traditional progressive buttons just like I’d heard Jesse Jackson, Ralph Nader, and Dennis Kucinich do in the past. Women’s issues, single-payer health care, student loans hitting young people, and more were addressed. Sanders called for free college tuition for all. He wants to create millions of new jobs. He talked about fixing our neglected and broken infrastructure. He hit hard on climate change calling for a sustainable society.