In may seem strange for a registered Republican to spend the morning at the Bernie Sanders rally since I obviously won’t be voting for him on Tuesday, but I’ve always encouraged my students to get to know the candidates, watch the debates and go to political rallies. So when a stop in Gainesville was added to Sanders’ schedule, we decided to participate in the fun.
In 1994 I took the girls to the Bill Clinton rally at the Livestock Pavilion in Ocala and in 2008, Emily and I attended the Sarah Palin rally at West Port High School. This rally was different than the others.
Being on the campus of a university insured a younger crowd, although there were certainly others attending closer to our age, and there were many more hand made signs, not just those mass produced by the candidate’s campaign.
This was also the first political rally I’ve attended with quality, live entertainment prior to the candidate’s arrival. Both the Bill Clinton and Sarah Palin rallies relied on playing recorded popular music.
Better than the Bill Clinton rally, Sanders came on stage on time at 11:00…Clinton was two hours late. And better than the Palin rally, the weather was perfect, light wind with the temperature in the low 70s, much better than upper 80s on a November afternoon. And to be honest, Bernie’s 40 minute message was more coherent and focused than either of the other two.
The attire of the rally attendees was also significantly different from those I’ve attended previously. The usual red, white and blue was replaced by tie-dye, tank tops, and gator wear, and the T-shirts supporting Sanders were varied: Not for Sale, Political Revolution, Billionaires Can’t Buy Bernie, and of course #Feel the Bern were popular, but apparently there was also a T-shirt painting event in Melrose on the eve of the rally as evidenced by the Take the Bernie Journey shirt.
The lines of people waiting to be screened to enter the field began before the gates opened at 8:00 and continued after Sanders began speaking at 11:11.
It’s encouraging to see so many enthusiastic about the political process and invested in the future of our country.
Hope to see this much enthusiasm next Tuesday on election day, and regardless of the candidate you support, I think Sanders’ slogan “A Future to Believe In” is one all of us can support.