The scene on the way to the rally / Photo by Cory Vick
Can you count, suckas? Statistics and studies have shown Sacramento as one this country’s most diverse cities—and it’s clear Senator Bernie Sanders is very much aware of our vast demographics. It’s just one of the points he emphasized during his rally speech here on Monday.
While numbers have varied, the running estimation for those in attendance at Bonney Field currently falls somewhere between 15,000 and 21,000 people chanting his name.
The north bleachers offered a bird’s eye perspective of the turn-out. People who made it inside by 5 p.m. said they had waited two hours. And nearly double that for those who didn’t get in until the 8 p.m. curtain call—even as the line wrapped around Cal Expo and passed the main entrance.
When Sanders did finally take the stage to a fever pitch,shortly before 8:30 p.m., he let supporters know their presence was effective.
“The corporate establishment is getting nervous. The political establishment is getting nervous. And when they see 15,000 people in Sacramento come out they are getting nervous.”
Attending one of the senator’s rallies puts into perspective why Sanders refers to his campaign as a political revolution. On Monday, the crowd illustrated the spectrum of Sacramentans. Diverse folks with radiant hair colors, families with children frolicking in the artificial turf, women holding hands with women, men holding hands with men, Midtowners, East Sacramentans and even farm folk with sun-dried skin.
Feeling the Bern is often typecast as a youth movement —typically as a measure to discredit it. That typecast, at least in Sacramento, appeared false. Attendees spanned from voters who punched the ballot in the year Jimmy Carter was elected to voters who will be participating in their first primary.
Still, the huge number of first-time voters does raise a curious question: Does Sanders risk losing because the 74-year old candidate possibly skews too young?
Jacob Michael Cambra, 20, said he likes Sanders because of his message of unity. Cambra was skateboarding through the event with a sign that read “Make America Skate Again. ”It’s a pun he knows marginalizes him as a misunderstood misfit. But he said he feels welcome among the Berners.
“He runs a campaign that preaches accepting everyone like family,” Cambra said. “I think if I were to go meet Bernie Sanders he wouldn’t turn his nose up at me.”
Sanders’ message to the youth has been one of free college education. During Monday’s rally he cited the numerous universities that once offered such, claiming that if we could do it then we can do it today. Vanessa Michel, 39, who lives near Sacramento State brought her infant to the rally and said the “education for everybody” issue in particular stands out to her.
“As he said California used to have education for everybody and now it’s difficult to pay for it,” she said.
Michel looked out into the crowd as if to indicate her opinion of the thousands there in the bleachers and on the field.
“The way he talks about unity—that’s the other thing I really like,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re gay, a single mom… there’s diversity. That’s what I like and what I’m looking for.”