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Galindez writes: "It was bigger than Steve King’s Freedom Summit, bigger than the GOP’s Lincoln Dinner, in fact bigger than both of those events combined, and you can even throw in Joni Ernst’s pig roast."

Bernie Sanders Packed 10,000 supporters into the Veteran’s Memorial Colosseum in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo: Scott Galindez/RSN)
Bernie Sanders Packed 10,000 supporters into the Veteran’s Memorial Colosseum in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo: Scott Galindez/RSN)

Bernie Draws 10,000 to Massive Madison Rally

By Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News

02 July 15


n July 1st, as volunteers gathered hours before the start of the massive rally for Bernie Sanders in Madison, Wisconsin, it dawned on me that some candidates would be happy if the crowds at their events were as large as the number of volunteers Bernie has. Hundreds of his volunteers helped facilitate the largest event of the 2016 election cycle to date. I don’t need a qualifier; it was bigger than Steve King’s Freedom Summit, bigger than the GOP’s Lincoln Dinner, in fact bigger than both of those events combined, and you can even throw in Joni Ernst’s pig roast. It’s possible that more people packed the Veterans Memorial Colosseum than have attended the combined events of many of Bernie’s opponents.

The doors opened to the public at 5:30 pm. Around 7:00 pm there were still some sections in the upper level, right behind the stage, that were empty. All of a sudden the crown erupted as people streamed into those sections, meaning that the campaign had achieved its goal of filling a 10,000-seat arena. With the crowd in place, the next eruption came when a local hero took the stage to introduce “one of us.”

According John Nichols, there was no special guest there to speak down to us, Bernie Sanders was one of us. “I am here to welcome you and I am here to welcome one of you” said Nichols, “because Bernie Sanders is not separate from the people in this room.” Nichols went on to say that “this has always been a people’s movement, and when leaders arrive they come from the people, they don’t dictate to the people.” The crowd of over 10,000 remained on its feet throughout Nichols’ introduction of Sanders. Nichols admitted that when Bernie told him he was thinking of running for president, he had his doubts, but then Bernie explained to him that he wasn’t going to run his campaign the way that others do, he was going to run it as a movement. He went on to to compare Bernie to a Wisconsin progressive hero, “Fighting Bob” La Follette. “People demanded a hundred years later that we would get a candidate who would say as forcefully that this fight is not about parties, partisanship, and ideology, that this fight is about all of us against a handful of plutocrats who would take everything we have.”

Bernie took the stage with his wife Jane at his side. They waved to a cheering crowd. “In case you haven’t noticed, there are a lot of people here ... Tonight we have made a little bit of history,” Sanders said as the crowd roared. “Tonight, we have more people at a meeting for a candidate for president of the United States than any other candidate,” he said as the applause drowned him out. “Thank you.”

Sanders delivered his fiery condemnation of income inequality, money in politics, and corporate greed. He presented solutions and received several standing ovations.

Bernie Sanders delivers a fiery speech to 10,000 supporters in Des Moines, Iowa. (photo: Scott Galindez/RSN)
Bernie Sanders delivers a fiery speech to 10,000 supporters in Des Moines, Iowa. (photo: Scott Galindez/RSN)

Larry Harrison of Janesville had brought his 9-year-old daughter, and he propped her up on his shoulders. “I wanted her to be a part of history. Bernie is the first candidate that I believe stands up for me and my family,” he said.

Nancy Broderick of Joliet, Illinois, almost gave up on politics after Obama. But there is something authentic about Bernie, she said: “I vowed I wouldn’t get fooled again. I was fed up with all of them. Then I heard Bernie speak, and my faith was restored.”

“He was very inspiring in what he was saying and he was speaking to a lot of issues that people in Wisconsin specifically have been having problems with,” said Sanders supporter Victoria Clemens.

Paul Threet also liked what the Independent senator had to say. “It’s about time that someone actually stood, that we know is on our side, that’s with the masses. I’m tired of these politicians who say, oh I care about you, I care about you, but they’re still cashing checks from special interests.”

There have been many insurgent campaigns that fizzle out, but many feel that this time is different. If you consider the timing of these rallies, the campaign is just getting started – rallies of the size Bernie is drawing usually happen for a party nominee in the weeks leading up to the election. Sanders has seven months to build on them before the first votes are cast. The crowds also go a long way in convincing people that he is viable. The next step will be getting some key endorsements that will help build the momentum. Bernie’s opponents have to be nervous about an endorsement that will be announced Friday in Cedar Rapids. One of the nation’s most prominent union organizers, Larry Cohen, who was the president of the Communications Workers of America until he retired three weeks ago, will not only endorse Sanders but will go to work helping him get elected.

Cohen’s endorsement is a big domino that could lead to major union endorsements. Labor endorsements mean organization everywhere. “I did everything I knew how to do to get Hillary Clinton to speak out on fast-track, and she wouldn’t,” Cohen told the Huffington Post. “We begged her to speak out.”

Cohen also told the Huffington Post that Clinton’s handling of the trade issue helped clarify why he wanted to get behind Sanders, who has been a vocal critic of giving Obama fast-track trade authority. “Without a candidate like Bernie, we’re going to get a repeat of the same stuff,” Cohen said. “Bernie is movement-building, and we need a new movement. We need to get big money out of politics.”

Sanders’ momentum is showing no signs of slowing. After spending the holiday weekend in Iowa, Bernie will go to Portland, Maine. Over 3,000 people have already RSVP’d for a July 6th event that has been moved to the Cross Insurance Arena, which can accommodate 9,500 for a political event or a concert. At this rate, the campaign will be booking stadiums soon.

In more good news for Sanders, a new Quinnipiac poll released Thursday morning shows his campaign continuing to close the gap. According to the survey, Sanders is now is receiving support from 33 percent of likely Democratic caucus participants compared to Clinton’s 55 percent. That distance is remarkably smaller now than it was in early May when Clinton enjoyed a 45-percentage-point advantage. “Sen. Sanders has more than doubled his showing and at 33 percent he certainly can’t be ignored, especially with seven months until the actual voting,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. With the polling starting to echo the large crowds, I think it’s time to stop calling Bernie a long shot. He is a legitimate contender.

Scott Galindez attended Syracuse University, where he first became politically active. The writings of El Salvador's slain archbishop Oscar Romero and the on-campus South Africa divestment movement converted him from a Reagan supporter to an activist for Peace and Justice. Over the years he has been influenced by the likes of Philip Berrigan, William Thomas, Mitch Snyder, Don White, Lisa Fithian, and Paul Wellstone. Scott met Marc Ash while organizing counterinaugural events after George W. Bush's first stolen election. Scott will be spending a year covering the presidential election from Iowa.

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