Leading up to Christmas week, Democratic Presidential Candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders made his way through the pivotal caucus state of Iowa. Towards the end of his trip Sanders made a campaign stop in Council Bluffs, IA at the Iowa Western Community College campus. This was the perfect location to draw supporters from not only the caucus state, but neighboring Nebraska as well.
A variety of demographics lined up in the narrow hallway outside the gym waiting to snag a prime seat to hear the Senator speak. Among the growing crowd were college students from the University of Nebraska-Omaha/Lincoln, Baby Boomers, and members of the bi-state LGBQT community. With his liberal although practical approach to many of the issues facing our nation, it’s no surprise the passionate support spanning generations that Sanders is generating. As the doors to the gym opened with Pearl Jam playing over the P.A. it was an orderly dash to find a seat in the soon to be standing room only space. With the diverse crowd filling the bleachers to the rafters, avid supporters started to lead chants of “Feel the Bern” and “Not for sale”. The latter referencing Sanders grassroots campaign being funded by supporters and “not by the billionaires” as is printed on everything from his signs to stickers. Sanders campaign support truly is grassroots with his average contribution coming in at just around $30. Campaign funding reform along with the unbalanced wealth in this country are two of Sanders focuses monetarily.
As 7 p.m. rolled around a representative from a local union spoke on their support for Sen. Sanders and his stance against the closed door international trade agreements being handled on Capitol Hill and the impact it will have on industry here in the heartland. The next speaker before the senator was a local Vietnam War veteran with an incredibly moving story focused on the current state of our country including food insecurity, health care, and wages. In the his lifetime he’s never seen it in such a poor state. Instead of perpetuating this broken system he believes Bernie Sanders is the man to change that and implement a new system.
Entering to a standing ovation Sen. Sanders took the stage. Beginning with a short synopsis of the great time he had spent with the wonderful people of Iowa, he said of the caucus state “We’re going to make history!” The energy in the room erupted and began a unique relationship with Sanders and those behind him. Throughout the rest of the forum this section was vocal in response to both the positive and negative notes of the Senator’s talk, to which he eventually responded by saying he was going to take them on the road with him.
Sanders first focus was on the media and the tilted coverage of the more showman candidates in comparison to his 20 seconds the night before on national news. Regardless of the lack of coverage Sanders is making waves across the country not just in Iowa and the Midwest, as was reinforced by a supporter shouting out, ” all you need is 20 seconds Bernie!” Sanders responded to the quip, “that’s right, all we need is 20 seconds!”
Civic engagement continued throughout the evening with Sanders encouraging being active not only in monetary support, but by getting out and starting conversations, taking action and voting. As he covered his plans to redistribute wealth and tip the balance back to not only favor the wealthiest 1% emphasis fell on taxation reform and wage standards. Health care was another focus of Sanders talking points, including standard paid family and medical leave allowing mother’s to care for their children without worry of providing for them by returning immediately to work.
Taking a slight break to address his opponents jabs at his plans Sanders took a lighthearted route in discussing Donald Trump’s strange, very strange relationship with women. His reference was to Trump’s comments when Senator Hilary Clinton used the restroom during a commercial break of a debate, calling it “disgusting”. Sanders then began to address this unproductive angle and how it seems to translate into the ignorance of many other issues by congress and corporations, particularly when addressing the issue of climate change. There certainly is no question now that climate change is real and Sen. Sanders is willing and ready to face it head on as a nation, but also globally to utilize more efficiently the resources we have and maintain sustainability. Food insecurity is also a focus of Sanders’ that stems from climate change that is bound to cause conflict further if not addressed domestically as well as globally.
The reality is there are gravely urgent issues facing our nation and the future president elect, be it Sanders or otherwise. Bernie Sanders is not for sale, but instead is selling himself, his vision and plan for “A Future To Believe In”. As he closed out his speech even he the Sen. was feeling the Bern as he knocked over his water bottle, making one final call to action to “Make History!”