I was on my way to the Bernie Sanders rally in Virginia Beach on Saturday evening, just 10 miles from my house, for my second opportunity in four years to hear him, live. Traffic started to jam up on the interstate. I wondered if I would get to Virginia Wesleyan University on time, even though I was then only about a mile away. When I got stuck in a long line of cars just sitting, waiting to exit, I grumbled a bit.
And then I noticed all the Bernie bumper stickers on the stopped cars!
After inching my way to the Batten Student Center, I arrived to find that the parking area was full. I was directed to satellite parking two miles away, where I got a shuttle. Estimated numbers of the crowd were about 4,000; but it certainly looked like more people showed up than expected.
Friends told me later they had parked a half mile away, walked to the venue and then waited a long time on line in the cold before they gave up, thinking they'd never get in.
I slipped in via the press door just as the outstanding introductory speakers were starting. The crowd was a patchwork of design - varying rainbow hair colors, dreads, and a variety of styles of piercings; boomers and kids, babies and their moms, the elderly; business attire, yoga wear and leopard cat ear headbands -- the marks of a progressive community.
Bernie Sanders speaks at rally at Virginia Wesleyan University 02.29.20
(Image by Meryl Ann Butler) Details DMCA
Bernie arrived to a celebration of shouts, He fired up the crowd saying, "We are more than a campaign, we are a movement! We are a multi-generational movement," and then, "I'm the young person, we have some older people, too!"
The crowd chanted, Ber-Nee, Ber-Nee, BER-NEE, BER-NEEE" louder and louder, and Bernie held up a hand to stop them saying, "Let me interrupt you and suggest that it is "US", not "ME," to peals of excitement.
One of the biggest rounds of applause of the evening was the response to Bernie's statement, "It turns out, that a President of the United States, by Executive Order, can legalize marijuana in every state in the US!"
And there was more:
"It seems to me that if we can give tax breaks to billionaires and large corporations, we can cancel student debt in America!"
"We have got to acknowledge that today we have a broken and racist criminal justice system. This is America, we should not have more people in jail than any other country on earth, including China. What we will do together is invest heavily in job training and education for our young people, not more jails and incarceration."
The crowd thrilled with his parting words:
"Let us go forward together!
Let us go forward to win on Tuesday!