Austin Campaign Rally Invigorates Bernie Sanders’ Followers

Keana Saberi, Editor in Chief

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  • Bernie Sanders speaks about his policies to the crowd at Auditorium Shores on Feb. 23.

  • A group of selected individuals got the chance to stand on risers directly behind Sanders’ podium and the stage.

  • Thousands raise their signs as Bernie Sanders speaks of his plans for his presidency.

  • The rally grows as more of Bernie Sanders’ supporters arrive.

  • People hold up a sign in support of Sanders’ and his campaign.

  • From the rally, Austin’s distinct skyline is prominent.

  • Attendants of the rally gather around a Texas Flag

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A compelling surge of enthusiasm ruffled through the throng of Austinites. Blue and white signs, emblems of Senator Bernie Sanders’ candidacy for President of the United States dotted the crowd of thousands, gathered to hear him speak. “Bernie” chants arose as the Texas sky started to dim, and inspirational music pulsed. Vermont Senator and current front-runner in the race for the 2020 Democratic Party nomination visited Austin on Sunday, Feb. 23 to endorse his campaign. Sanders’ Austin campaign stop came after visits to other Texas cities including Houston, San Antonio, and El Paso. After a landslide victory at the crucial Nevada caucus just the day before, possibilities for Texas to vote in favor of Sanders come Super Tuesday on March 3 are looking increasingly high.

Local musical artists including The Black Angels and Molly Burch intensified the crowd’s already apparent energy prior to Sanders’ appearance. Before the much-anticipated candidate took the stage, former presidential candidate Marianne Williamson as well as city council member Greg Casar spoke of their support for Sanders. Individuals with wristbands were able to stand not far behind Sanders’ podium on bleachers, chanting and waving their signs as photographers took landscape shots of the humongous crowd. At the entrance gate, local Austin politicians reached out to people and informed them about their campaigns as well. 

“I have never been to any sort of political rally. I didn’t go so much to see Bernie Sanders but instead to get the experience,” Darya Mohajeri ‘21 said. “It was so moving to see all these people with the same views come together in that sort of environment.”

As soon as Sanders emerged, the crowd roared with vigor while Sanders commented on the number of people in attendance being far greater than expected. He spoke on issues from climate change and his and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposed Green New Deal, the need for universal, single-payer healthcare as well as how the money funneled into political campaigns by corporate giants, special interest groups such as the NRA, and Wall Streeters could be utilized in a way beneficial to society, without further deepening prevalent national issues. Sanders’ campaign is solely funded by grassroots organizations and he proudly spoke of his disapproval of super PACS. Sanders also expressed his zeal to fund Planned Parenthood and address the American criminal justice system which Sanders views as corrupt and skewed in the direction of the rich and powerful. Even as Trump supporters rallied outside the gates of the event, their words were not strong enough to squelch the cheers of Sanders’ followers, people both young and old. Throughout the event, as Sanders spoke of his ideologies, he reiterated that other campaigns and people are afraid of his “progressive ideas”. He claimed that his plans will help aid society and in reality aren’t as extreme as opponents make them out to be when referring to policies such as Medicare for All. 

“This was my first rally so it was a very new and fun experience. It felt so powerful to be part of a crowd and campaign that agreed with all of my values,” Nikki Frazier ‘23 said. “ I was glad to see a lot of young people because I think it’s so important for this new generation to be politically informed and active.”

In Texas, early voting has already begun and will continue up until “Super Tuesday” on March 3, when Sanders will seek the approval of Democratic Texans while vying to increase his lead over Vice President Joe Biden and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who trail behind in the primary voting rounds. The Sanders campaign is striving to amass one million voters on the official app BERN to strengthen and ensure a definitive winning streak across the country. A primary victory in Texas will surely bolster the Sanders camp, as Texas will likely play a crucial role in selecting the Democratic nominee.