March for Bernie brings the presidential race to the streets
Bernie Sanders’s supporters marched from Cheeseman Park to the state Capitol to show their support for the democratic socialist from Vermont who’s rattling Hillary Clinton’s nerves in the Democratic primary.
A long string of Bernie Sanders enthusiasts took to Denver’s sidewalks Saturday to push out the message that their candidate could actually win in next week’s Iowa caucuses, where he and Hillary Clinton are polling neck and neck.
The demonstration was one of many around the country in a national push to show voters that Sanders has nationwide support. Marchers waved American flags, danced to the grumblings of a tuba and chanted for Sanders — the independent Democratic Socialist candidate running on the Democratic ticket.
The March for Bernie had the feel of a protest, a suitable medium for Sanders’s optimistic progressive champions hellbent to “fight corporate cancer,” “Bern the banks,” and create a “political revolution,” as their signs stated.
The demonstrators marched from Cheeseman Park to the Statehouse. Roughly 100 people showed, according to The Denver Post. On Facebook, marchers disputed that report, saying one person tallied 1,120 participants.
Some held Bernie Sanders masks. At least one person carried a life-size cardboard cutout of the candidate. Others wore Sesame Street-style Bernie outfits.
His marchers toted babies and bicycles. They walked purebred dogs. They looked a lot like new, hip, wealthy Denver.
Unlike many recent protestors in Denver’s streets organized and led by people of color, Sanders’s supporters were mostly white — which mirrors the observations of pundits who say voters of color aren’t swayed by his emphasis on class politics and his refusal to entertain reparations for African Americans.
On Colfax Avenue, the march stalled outside the Portland-founded Voodoo Donuts, where one of Sanders’s supporters griped that too many marchers were buying sweets and slowing down the procession’s progress to the Capitol.
There will be no slowdown in his supporters’ enthusiasm, Sanders has said in emails and debates. It’s grassroots. It’s built on small donations. It’s contagious because he fights the banks, and promotes free education and healthcare for all.
He and his supporters think he can win a David and Goliath fight, and that worries the Clinton campaign.
In a series of email blasts, Clinton said Sanders might have a chance in the primaries. She’s used fear of the Bern to raise money. Clinton already suffered one surprise defeat in Iowa in 2008 against Barack Obama, and it could happen again, she and Sanders’s supporters say.
Colorado’s entire Democratic Congressional delegation, Gov. John Hickenlooper, and many state lawmakers have already formally endorsed Clinton. Democratic campaign managers working on state and national elections say they doubt Sanders has much of a chance in a swing state like Colorado. Conventional wisdom suggests a more moderate candidate would do better here.
But Colorado rallies for Sanders have been jam packed with thousands. Clinton’s rallies have had just hundreds in attendance. While Sanders has earned much of Colorado’s progressive Party base, Clinton has successfully won over the state’s powerful Party brass.
Clinton supporters say her platform is progressive but pragmatic, unlike Sanders’s which is idealistic but not realistic. Her backers say her more moderate politics will appeal in the general election to Colorado’s independent voters who don’t like political extremes and who will decide who wins in this swing state.
But Sanders’s supporters say his ability to represent both gun control and gun owners in a Second Ammendment loving, largely rural state, his support for legalized recreational marijuana, his plans for free education and universal healthcare, and his anti-establishment platform could in a general election win over Colorado’s undecided libertarians. After all, Sanders’s backers say libertarians hate billionaire funded politics on both sides of the aisle, fear Clinton’s a gun grabber, and dislike that she plans to continue to use federal law to criminalize cannabis.
Democratic operatives in Colorado doubt Sanders has a chance for the party’s nomination. If he does win, most interviewed say the party will be in trouble.
But, as Sanders and his supporters tell it, the Democratic Party — with its hefty funding from Wall Street and Super PACs — already is.
Photo credit: Christian O’Rourke, Creative Commons, Flickr.
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