Three awesome women share their stories about the day Bernie came to town

If you’re interested in finding out what presidential candidate Bernie Sanders talked about on Monday, when he was here at Eastern Michigan University’s Convocation Center, there’s quite a bit of documentation out there. Of what I’ve seen, my favorite is an article in the Washington Post titled “‘Single-issue’ candidate Bernie Sanders touches on 20 issues during a Michigan campaign stop,” which I’ve excerpted at the bottom of this post. For those of you, like me, who appreciate local commentary, though, I’ve reached out to three awesome women who were there and asked them to share their thoughts. Following are the brief notes of Linette Lao, Bee Roll and Clementine Maynard. [Sadly, I could not attend, as I had a work obligation that I couldn’t extricate myself from.]

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LINETTE: Eight years ago, when presidential candidate Howard Dean came though Ypsilanti, we were among about 40 people who met with him in Recreation Park. It’s amazing how big this event was in comparison. I totally wasn’t expecting to have to wait outside for two hours, at the end of line that stretched nearly a mile. If you haven’t seen the footage yet, here’s the line.

BEE: We closed up Beezy’s early, and got there before the line became too insane.

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CLEMENTINE: People kept cutting in line in front of us. One, we heard him say, was a History professor from the University of Michigan. He walked up to another old guy and said, “Hello old friend,” pretending to know him. They laughed about it.

LINETTE: Clementine and I, I learned, are both grudge holders. We both stood there in the cold, glowering at the line-cutters. It seemed out of place for a Bernie Sanders event. It seemed a bit “1%” to the two of us. Lots of entitlement. A young couple cut in line in front of the guy in front of us, who told them off. Instead of going to the back of the line, though, they just got behind him, putting them right in front of us. We didn’t say anything. Clementine and I just looked at each other angrily. I kept trying not to be annoyed, reminding myself that, in line of ten thousand, it probably doesn’t matter all that much. But, then again, I’m still mad about the group of American tourists that cut in line in front of us at the Vatican, and that was 16 years ago. These things are hard to let go of.

BEE: My experience in line was really intense. Jim wasn’t with me. It was just me and Ziggy, who is 45 fucking pounds, and he demanded to be carried.

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CLEMENTINE: Mom kept laughing at me because I couldn’t say Convocation Center. I kept calling it the Complication Center.

LINETTE: On her way to the end of the line, my friend Letitia said, “Wouldn’t it be so Bernie if they started letting people in from the end of the line first?”

CLEMENTINE: It was only about 20-degrees, which made it worse. Thermal underwear would have been good.

LINETTE: As we came in, we were instructed to put our phones and keys in our hats as we went through security… They were playing Bowie’s “Starman.”

BEE: Sami was already inside by the time Ziggy and I got there. She was holding us a seat, but we couldn’t find her. I was so overwhelmed by the crowd, I just gave up.

CLEMENTINE: Once we were inside, packed into our full section, an old man came out on stage. I thought it was Bernie, and clapped. It wasn’t.

BEE: I was sort of lonely. Every time I would try to talk with anyone, Ziggy would kick and thrash. I almost pushed a guy over the edge of the balcony after he said to me, “Settle down, it hasn’t started yet.” I was already kind of irritated, as over 75 people had pushed up against us to get through our section, rather than just walking around the outside.

LINETTE: I didn’t think Ziggy was that bad. In fact, he impressed me with his ability to hold it together in spite of all the noise and chaos. And it was his nap time too… And it made me happy to see Bee there. She’s the core of Bernie love and support in Ypsi… Our Hare Krishna neighbors were there too.

CLEMENTINE: I spent much of the rally with my head on mom’s shoulder.

LINETTE: She didn’t feel good. And she was tired. There was a lot of sighing.

BEE: It was awesome. In spite of what I said before, I had a blast. But it was a very physical and anxious experience, and not so political. The power of 10 thousand people is pretty amazing. Chanting crowds and “feel the bern” are not my thing, but I’m really happy I was able to experience it.

LINETTE: The woman who was next to me, Lisa from Berkeley, was so kind. She was there with her grown-up son, and her parents. Her father has just had heart surgery, but he really wanted to see Bernie. They didn’t know this would be such a big thing either. He’s a picture that she took of us and then sent to us after the rally.

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LINETTE: We were not coordinated or peppy enough to join in the wave.

CLEMENTINE: I didn’t know when to yell and when to clap.

LINETTE: On the other side of us was a high school girl who was weeping. She said, “I wish I could vote for him!” It was really an amazing, beautiful thing.

Now, here, for those of you who are interested in what Sanders actually said, is the overview from the Washington Post.

Here’s a look at the issues Sanders covered:

1. Universal health care. Sanders backs a single-payer, “Medicare-for-all” system, saying that “America must join the rest of the industrialized world and provide health care for all.”

2. Federal intervention in Flint, Mich. Sanders condemns the water contamination crisis, saying it is stunting children’s development. He calls for the resignation of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and says: “If the local government cannot protect those children, if the state government cannot protect those children, then the federal government better get in.”

3. Minimum wage. Sanders calls the current federal rate of $7.25 “a starvation wage” and says it should be raised to $15 an hour.

4. Wealth inequality. Sanders decries the disparity between families like the Waltons, who own Walmart, and most Americans. He has offered several changes to the tax code to address the gap.

5. Jail population. Sanders noted that the United States has the largest incarcerated population in the world and says that will no longer be the case if he is president.

6. Planned Parenthood funding. While Republicans want to “defund” the women’s health organization, which has been caught up in a controversy over abortion services, Sanders wants to expand its funding.

7. Same-sex marriage. Sanders pledges to protect new rights in all 50 states for gay couples to marry.

8. Paid family and medical leave. Sanders wants to guarantee three months of paid leave after the birth of a child.

9. Federal jobs program. Sanders wants to spend $1 trillion to create 13 million jobs to “rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.”

10. Child care. Sanders wants to invest more money to create a “world-class” child-care system.

11. Trade policy. Sanders cites his past opposition to NAFTA and other “disastrous” deals and vows to fight the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership being championed by President Obama.

12. Prosecute Wall Street offenders. Sanders bemoans how financial giants like Goldman Sachs could pay a $5 billion settlement for fraudulent behavior without any of its executives going to jail.

13. Marijuana policy. Sanders wants to remove marijuana from the federal government’s list of dangerous drugs and allow states to decide whether to legalize possession without intervention by Washington.

14. Voting rights. Sanders opposes efforts by Republican governors to impose additional barriers to voting, says those who do should “get another job.”

15. Supreme Court appointment. With a vacancy created by the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia, Sanders urges Republicans to “obey the Constitution” and consider for confirmation any nominee put forward by President Obama.

16. Campaign finance reform. Sanders wants the Supreme Court to overturn the Citizens United decision, which allows unlimited campaign contributions. He says that would be a litmus test for any new justice he appoints.

17. Free college tuition. Sanders calls for making tuition free at public universities and colleges and says lower interest rates should be available for those who currently have debt for “the crime of getting a college education.”

18. Tax on Wall Street speculation. Sanders proposes a tax on Wall Street trades, saying it’s the financial sector’s turn to help out the middle class after being bailed out by taxpayers after the 2008 meltdown.

19. Climate change. Sanders says policymakers have a “moral obligation” to curb emissions contributing to the warming of the planet.

20. Iraq war. Sanders argues that the U.S. invasion destabilized the Middle East and says his 2002 vote against it shows his judgment on foreign policy. He also argues that if the country can spend so much on the war, it can invest in other priorities at home.

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11 Comments

  1. Scott Trudeau
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    In addition to the issues outlined, he spent a fair amount of time stressing that to accomplish these things will require an ongoing & energetic movement; the presidency alone cannot deliver them. He tied the fight against inequality (and connected issues) to historic American movements against slavery, Jim Crow, for universal suffrage & LGBT rights.

  2. 734
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    I’m struck by the imagery of the UM professor coming to Ypsi and cutting in line in front of locals. That says a lot.

  3. anonymous
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    From 40 people to 9,400 is an exponential jump in 8 years and it speaks to just how willing the American people are to brace change.

  4. Anonymatt
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    So no drawings? Or does that only apply to celebrities, not politicians?

  5. Angela Barbash
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    I second Bee’s sentiment, that it was the most exhausting thing I’ve tried to do with a baby in tow. Holy crap. We lucked out and David Palmer saved us a spot in line across from overflow parking, so we only had to wait a bit over an hour. Our six month old dealt with it in stride though.

    One exception I take with his speech is when he said that if the local and state government couldn’t get it done with fixing the Flint issue, then the feds need to step in. Apparently he didn’t get the memo on how the EPA also dropped the ball, and worse yet, actively squashed a whistleblower.

  6. Fleeta
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Where are the pictures of Hilary’s queue?

  7. greater 734
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    @734, not so fast! I’m not defending that UM prof cutting in line, but a fair number of such “exotic” folk (particularly the lower-paid ones) ARE Ypsi locals.

  8. Demetrius
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    Like Linette, I saw Howard Dean in Recreation Park. (Under the pavilion, standing on a picnic table. I even got him to sign a t-shirt.)

    I wasn’t able to make it to the Bernie rally (because of work), but really wish I could have.

    I’m a little reluctant to support any presidential candidate too strongly (I still remember John Edwards), but I’m very grateful that Bernie has introduced some essential issues and ideas into this campaign – income inequality, universal healthcare, Wall Street, climate change, “free trade,” etc. – that likely would have remained in the shadows among the Republicans (and Hillary).

  9. Bob
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    I went with my father and my teenage niece and nephew, who skipped school to attend. He could have trimmed 15 minutes from his stump speech. He was losing a good portion of the 18 year olds before he wrapped up. He also needed better music. Some really dreadful punk pop crap for the warmup. They played Rocking in the Free World and Starman way too many times. Missed a big local opportunity by not playing Kick Out the Jams.
    Peter Larson probably hates the MC5 though.

  10. anonymous
    Posted February 17, 2016 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    He also hates Bernie.

  11. Christine Moellering
    Posted February 19, 2016 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    I really enjoyed his points about how change always comes from the bottom. I never see anyone mention that in the write ups (though it’s alluded to here in comments). I thought it was a well rounded speech and kept going back in a really artistic way to the main points. I love that he seemed to have it all on a yellow legal pad.

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