Students gather for presidential campaign rally
On Monday, May 9, 21,000 people crowded into Sacramento’s Cal Expo to hear presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speak at a campaign rally. Despite the rally location being announced only three days in advance, many attendees waited hours to enter the event.
Vermont Senator Sanders discussed the major tenets of his campaign. He emphasized his belief in the need for universal health care, an increased minimum wage, renewable energy sources and reduced income inequality.
Social media users created the #BernieinSacramento hashtag to share photos and information regarding the event, showcasing the long line to the event entrance. On Facebook, members of the “UCD Students for Bernie” group used the page to coordinate carpools to Sacramento.
“I was pretty impressed at how many people went to see him speak in person. I thought it was great how many people he motivated to be a part of the political process. I think he speaks to a lot of people that are hurt by the status of the economy and the low wages that are hurting the middle class. I think he inspires people by giving them a voice in the political process,” said third-year political science major James Dalrymple.
Dalrymple explains that Sen. Sanders used the example of the Walton family, the founders of Walmart, to express his belief that wealthy families can profit from low-wage labor of employees who end up dependent on social services.
Even though Dalrymple will be voting for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, he attended Sanders’ rally because he supports Sanders’ message of widespread political involvement and wanted to see him speak in person.
Dalrymple is vice president of UC Davis Students for Hillary, and was a precinct captain for the Clinton campaign at the Nevada caucuses. He even met the former secretary of state at a student event last year.
Dalrymple added that many attendees at the rally expressed unfavorable views of Clinton, which he worries will create division among Democrats in the general election. He is concerned that divisive rhetoric between Sanders and Clinton could cause supporters of either candidate to defect to supporting Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee.
Daniel Schooling, a third-year history and digital media double major, attended the rally as a longtime supporter of Sen. Sanders. Schooling also met Sen. Sanders in 2010 in Washington, D.C. at the Washington Mall, where Sanders was holding a small rally.
“I was at Occupy Wall Street in New York about six months before. I will always remember people saying, ‘you can’t trust any politician, well except this one guy, Bernie, who is already advocating on our behalf,’” Schooling said.
Schooling noted that drug reform policy has harmed neighborhoods he has lived in and supports Sanders’ stance on the issue. He was also grateful to hear Sanders advocate for free college tuition and keeping corporate money out of politics, which Schooling notes are issues that appeal to younger voters.
“I don’t even have words to describe [the rally]. Sometimes when we table at the MU, people say they don’t care; we only get 10 registries to vote each day and it can be discouraging. To see that people came out, over 21,000 people came on three days notice, they decided to take time out of their classes and work to show up starting at 10 a.m.,” said Brenda Balderas, a second-year political science and history major and vice president of UC Davis Students for Bernie.
Balderas attended the rally and is heavily invested in Sen. Sanders’ campaign, although she will be ineligible to vote in this year’s elections because she is not yet a U.S. citizen. Balderas contributes to UC Davis Students for Bernie by tabling in Downtown Davis and on campus, phone banking and going door to door to talk to voters.
Balderas added that even those ineligible to vote can play an important role in campaigning by spreading information on campaign issues and explaining the logistics of voter registration.
“It was an amazing experience to see the support of people trying to make a difference. I can look back and say, I marched with Bernie,” Balderas said. “We are going to be be part of that history.”
Written By: CAROLINE STAUDENRAUS – firstname.lastname@example.org