By Sally Yi
Attending Boston’s Bernie Sanders Rally
According to my laptop stickers, I’m currently endorsing three candidates for president in 2016: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Selina Meyer. If Selina was real, she would be my top choice right now, as Julia Louis Dreyfuss just slays (if the Emmys last month didn’t show that). Wait no. I take that back. As Veep shows, Selina is more that friend you want to hang out with on Thursday and Friday nights than the friend whom you’d turn to for help on your p-set on Sunday, so maybe I wouldn’t really vote for her. I’d just support her during dinner parties in the same way I talk about how much I love Joe Biden and his affection for ice cream.
After campaigning for Obama endlessly in 2012, I’ve been an avid Hillary fan, even being cited in NPR’s article Hillary Exhilaration Helps Energize Generation Z last year. But this was before Bernie Sanders and his straightforward platform came to the arena. I’ve been following Bernie’s campaign since the beginning of this summer. I’m a big fan of his Twitter, especially around debate time, as he keeps it real. His social media presence is what drew me into his grassroots campaign, and I ended up donating a small amount under $100 to his campaign (like 99% of the other Bernie supporters).
I didn’t realize that there was a big Bernie following at Harvard until pretty recently, when I noticed several of my friends say they were going to the Bernie Sanders rally on October 3 on the Facebook event. Knowing Harvard students and Facebook events, I knew that out of the thirty or so friends I had who said they were going, only a couple of them would actually show up. I was right. But what I wasn’t expecting was sixty or so people from Harvard United for Bernie at the statue at 3:30 PM, when the rally wasn’t even supposed to start at 6 PM. Those were just the group of people who decided to arrive at the rally together. On the way back from the event, hundreds of students got off at the Harvard t stop.
The outpouring for love for Bernie is unreal. I went with two of my friends who asked if I wanted to make shirts with them for the event. They also made headbands that said “Bernie‘16.” Our shirts ended up having some great Bernie puns (“Bernin’ Up 4 U Bernie,” “Bern Down 4 What,” “Talk Bernie 2 ME”).
The Boston Convention Center was packed to capacity at over 20,000 people, not to mention the thousands more in an overflow room. Every age was in the room—I saw lots of older women just as excited to try to get a selfie as we were, as well as kids on their parents’ shoulders. The largest age group by far was college students, either because Boston by nature is a college town or because of Bernie Sanders’s plan to make public colleges free. Either way, it was amazing to see so many young people at an event given that voter turnout in our age group is currently so low.
I had friends go to rallies of Bernie’s over the summer who said that they were not as impressed with his in-person persona as they hoped, or that he left out key issues. However, I felt that this was not the case. Bernie has insane charisma and people skills. He was able to capture the attention of the large crowd for a good hour and a half. He spoke about every issue that I personally could think of including mental health, income inequality, campaign spending, the environment, college education, mass incarceration, mass shootings, immigration reform, equal pay for women, and women’s reproductive rights. There was not a single sentence that I could have added to that speech, or one that I did not enthusiastically cry out “yass” in my head to after hearing. He was so genuine in person, a quality that I haven’t felt after seeing several of my other favorite politicians speak in person.
I don’t think that I’ve ever heard another candidate be able to speak so candidly about issues that are so fundamental—such as the fact that mental health care resources are often hard to come by, and often require weeks or months on a waiting list when people really need attention sooner. Bernie’s statement that “we need a revolution in terms of mental health care in our country” is not something that you’ve heard on any other campaign trail.
His all-too-real talk about other candidates, democrats and republicans alike, being bought out by Super PACS and big name donors was refreshing as well; while discussing the Republican party’s inability to accept the scientific evidence of global warming, he dared his opponents to “instead of your campaign contributions, worry about your kids and grandchildren.”
What makes Bernie a candidate that speaks to my heart the most is the fact that what he is asking for is not something revolutionary; he is asking for human rights. He’s asking for people who work 40 hours a week to be able to live above the poverty line, for undocumented immigrants who have fled political or economic circumstances or other persecution to come here for safety and another chance to be given a path to citizenship and humanizing terms in the press and by politicians. He’s asking for women to not paid time off so they don’t have to choose between working and having children, and he’s asking that we “invest in jobs and education, not jails and incarceration” so that we can become the best educated country on earth—not the one with the most people in jail.
Bernie just gets me and 20,000-plus other people in Boston. He’s the only candidate who is making me say “yasss!!!!” I don’t want to play this politics game anymore; I just want someone in office who I feel like is looking out for the best interests of everyone I know.
Sali Yi’18 (firstname.lastname@example.org) approves this message.