Bernie Sanders Held A Rally In Idaho And It Was OK
It's not a liberal rally unless there's a giant papier-mâché head
Yr Doktor Zoom was On Assignment Monday at a Bernie Sanders rally in Boise, Idaho, which drew something like 7,000 people to Boise State University's "Taco Bell Arena," which is a thing that exists but does not even have a Taco Bell franchise inside. It was a little jarring to see the Bernie Sanders campaign signs on the giant scoreboard next to the Taco Bell logo:
It was a happy friendly crowd, and we'll get the main plot spoiler out of the way right away: No, no disruptions by any Trump supporters, which was frankly a disappointment. The day's only other bit of suspense arose from our realization that prepaying for three hours of parking wasn't going to be nearly enough; for the sake of narrative tension, we'll save how that turned out until the end.
Like any event for a candidate who isn't about to drop out, there was a lot of standing in line, which gave us a chance to talk to some of the folks who'd turned out. There was the nice young woman carrying the giant papier-mâché Bernie head, for instance, who said she supports Bernie because he has a different message and "wants to destroy the establishment" through a political revolution. We blame ourselves, because when you ask something as bland as "What got you interested in Bernie Sanders?" you're pretty much asking for clichés. She said if Hillary Clinton gets the nomination, she'd definitely vote for her, because better an undestroyed establishment than Donald Trump. The woman denied being a paid agitator, and claimed not to even know who George Soros was, despite the universal acknowledgment in rightwing blogs' comment sections that all Bernie supporters are on the Soros payroll.
We also talked to a knot of college kids who were attending the rally together; they were all happy to be liberals in a red state, and to see Bernie in person. They've all been following the campaign fairly closely online, but none had heard of "Bernie Bros," which suggests maybe -- you might want to sit down for this -- the stuff the political internet obsesses over doesn't necessarily make it out into the wider world. Of the six, all said they planned to caucus for Bernie Tuesday except for the one seventeen-year-old, who was also the only one in the group who said that when it comes to the general election (which she will be old enough to vote in), she wouldn't vote for Hillary if she got the nomination. She said she'd go with the "red" candidate instead; we're fairly sure she meant "Green," but who are we to nitpick? Maybe Idaho has some hidden Reds out there?
On the topic of Donald Trump, the kids were in agreement: He probably has studied the Dark Arts, and if elected could be the "President Snow of American politics." We were so pleased at catching the Hunger Games reference that we forgot to point out in our Comic Book Guy voice that Panem actually is America, but in a dystopian future. Also, their favorite conspiracy theory is that Ted Cruz is the Zodiac Killer, so score one for memes. They all considered John Kasich a "moderate," which could be worrying if there were the slightest chance he could win the nomination. We remain unworried.
We also stopped this woman so we could take a picture of her awesome hat:
God damn it, you've got to be.
An Australian woman who's lived here 18 years said she wished the candidates would go into more detail about how they'd fix health care, seeing as how she's from someplace that actually figured out single-payer along with the rest of the industrialized world. She didn't even think that the Second Amendment made up for our crappy healthcare system, either; and said she actually worried -- just a little -- about coming to large public events like the Sanders rally because of the slim possibility a nut with a gun might start shooting. She wasn't the least bit reassured when we pointed out that Idaho universities now allow concealed weapons on campus.
After buying the worst cup of coffee we've had in years, we got to a seat and waited forever for Bernie, who was lollygagging backstage and, we found out later, taping a satellite interview with Chris Hayes. The most enthusiastic part of the crowd, in the get-on-TV grandstands behind the lectern, got a half-hearted Wave going in the arena, but when it comes right down to it, Boise is not much of a Wave town. Susan Sarandon gave Bernie a nice introduction, and he was off into his stump speech (video here if you're dying to watch), which we're not going to say much about because after the debates and the primaries, we've all seen it -- the only content he tweaked for Idaho was a much-deserved shaming of the Republican-led legislature, which continues to reject Medicaid expansion under Obamacare.
It was a Bernie Sanders stump speech, quite well delivered. Bernie may sometimes be a one note candidate, but he plays that note very well, pointing out that Walmart has made the Walton family the richest in America, even as Walmart employees often need food stamps to feed their kids. Big cheers for the line "The Walton family needs to get off welfare." The other big applause lines were for free college tuition and decriminalization of pot, and did we mention that this was mostly a college-aged crowd? One of the few forty-somethings we saw, a guy sitting in front of us, had brought his little kid with him; the boy looked like he was about 8 and was wearing a very spiffy suit for the occasion. Didn't get the chance to ask him if he'd like to someday become a wild-haired socialist senator from Vermont. We took about forty pictures of Sanders, only one of which turned out well at all, because we should not be allowed to operate a digital camera:
Then it was all over, and Bernie flew off to give a speech in Flagstaff, Arizona, our home town during high school, which makes us wonder if he's stalking us backward in time. Also, you'll be delighted to know we didn't get a parking ticket, even though the rally went two hours longer than we'd paid for. Bernie truly is magical that way.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.