What it's like to wait 8 hours to see a man who can change our country.
I support what and who he stands for, and I especially appreciate his consistency regarding important issues. If you look at his history as a senator, mayor, and politician, one thing is clear:
He is FOR THE PEOPLE.
If you look at the other politicians vying for the nomination, you'll find that they all have the same thing in common: They act in the interest of themselves and those like them. And that's it.
But Bernie? Bernie cannot be bought — not by big business, not by Wall Street, and not by billionaires.
In a country full of corruptness and greed, he's a shining example of how things SHOULD be.
To me, Bernie is a magical unicorn.
He wants to make what seems impossible, possible. In a country where providing education and health care to citizens, and raising minimum wage so people can live on more than just $7.25 an hour, are deemed as "impractical," Bernie sure as hell doesn't think so.
Of course, I don't believe these issues are impractical, and neither do the millions of working class citizens supporting Bernie.
I've never heard a politician speak so passionately and from experience about the middle class. I've never had a politician care so much about who other fat cats consider plebeians or "the common people."
For decades, we've been swept under the rug, busting our asses to support big business and banks so they can benefit from us. Bernie understands the middle class because he's been there. He knows what it's like to grow up without much money. He GETS it. And that's what makes him so damn magical.
So when I heard Bernie was holding a rally in the South Bronx, I jumped at the opportunity to attend.
Since it's fairly close to where I live (just a train ride and a few subway stops away), I absolutely could NOT miss the chance to see him speak. Not just to me, but to the thousands of others that show their unwavering support for him.
We arrived early, around 11:30 AM or so. My two friends and I were three of the first 50 people on the line to get in. One of my friends, a staunch Bernie supporter, was initially concerned that there were only a few dozen people waiting.
But by 1 PM, the line had wrapped around the city block corner.
The NYPD set up barriers to shuffle in those waiting on the street, but soon after, the line grew exponentially. It was again wrapped around the corner, and running even further down the street. There were easily a few thousand of us waiting.
Almost five hours into waiting, the gates opened. Once we were cleared by security and herded into the actual area where the speakers were, we stood for another three hours while thousands of people were let in.
Can you guess where I was standing? Right in the FRONT.
When my morale was seriously low because of my aching back, legs and body, I tried to remember where I was and why I was there. I was here, with intelligent individuals from all walks of life, of different ethnicities and careers, all campaigning for the same cause as me. Not even my noodle legs could distract me from that.
Around 6 PM or so, the first round of speakers talked to the crowd. Erika Andiola, the Latino Outreach Strategist for the Southwestern Region for Sanders' campaign, declared herself as "undocumented and unafraid." She spoke about her mother and sibling being detained by immigration many years ago, as well as her continuing fight to reform immigration.
After her, Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, President of New York State Nurses Union, spoke about the sub-par health care system in the Bronx, and how Sanders will continue to fight to make sure people from all income brackets have opportunities to get health services they deserve.
Finally, New York assemblyman Luis Sepúlveda talked about the pressure from the "Democratic machine" to vote for Hillary Clinton, to which he asked, why not look at all candidates? He also pointed out the diversity of the crowd, saying:
"People say Bernie Sanders is only supported by white people. What I see here is a beautiful mosaic."
(There were also some super-surprise appearances that made my inner fan girl go crazy. True Blood heartthrob Alexander Skarsgård was standing off to the side of the podium, in all his hunky glory. There was also an Obama impersonator, Louis Ortiz, who is a serious dead-ringer for the real Obama. He's known as Bronx Obama, by the way.)
(Excuse the sh*tty quality. I'm a writer, not a photographer.)
We waited another hour before Rosario Dawson took the stage, who was introduced by the one and only Spike Lee! Yes, only the director of more than 30 films, all of which deal with race, crime and poverty. NBD.
She started her speech by pointing out how Clinton has tried to skew Bernie's stances. Trump recently expressed how he will "punish" women and doctors who get and perform abortions. Bernie replied, saying that Trump's comments were a distraction from serious issues, to which Clinton attempted to imply that Sanders doesn't care about women's issues.
"Shame on you, Hillary," she said.
She also called out Clinton's hypocrisy about wanting to debate "any time, anywhere" when debating against Obama in 2008, but wouldn't debate Bernie until he changed his tone.
"Oh, sorry, let me watch my tone," she added. And yes, the crowd went f*cking WILD. Another highlight from her speech?
"Trump will go to the White House to say, 'You're fired!' but Bernie will take office to say, 'You're hired!'" Yes, yes he will.
She also touched on important issues: undocumented immigrants, racism, women's rights, and how the media often misconstrues Bernie and Bernie supporters to divide everyone.
"I don't have to vote against somebody, I get to vote FOR someone who's on our side," she concluded.
After Rosario finished, Latin Grammy winner Residente took the stage. He spoke about the unfairness and suppression of Puerto Rican citizens, whose economy is currently in crisis. While Congress gets to make decisions about their economy, the citizens have no say as to how their country is run.
"We are currently living an unprecedented economic crisis and have the highest rates of poverty and unemployment of any other place in the U.S., yet the U.S. government does not even allow us to restructure our debt," he said.
Citizens of Puerto Rico also don't have the right to vote in U.S. elections.
It's an important issue to Sanders, and he's actually (surprisingly) the first presidential candidate to address it.
Then, Residente introduced Sanders, and when I tell you that the crowd went ape sh*t, I mean it. I probably won't recover hearing in my ears for another week or two. People were screaming at the top of their lungs (myself included) to welcome him to the stage.
"Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!" everyone chanted before he spoke.
"Thank you, South Bronx!" he exclaimed.
A Brooklyn native himself, he started by recounting how his father had come to the United States from Poland "without a nickel in his pocket." His family lived in a rent-controlled apartment because his father didn't make much money.
"I learned a little bit about what it means to grow up in a family who has no money, and I also learned a little bit about the immigrant experience. Those lessons I will never forget."
While I had been wondering all day about how many people were attending the rally, Bernie made it clear when he said, "What this campaign is about is creating a political revolution. And the 15,000 people who are here this evening, you are the heart and soul of this revolution." (YES, there were 15,000 people in attendance!)
Now, where you will find Trump talking about irrelevant things at his rallies that have nothing to do with issues and have no substance whatsoever, do you know what Bernie talked about? Everything. Everything he plans to do and how he's going to do it.
While he focused on the corrupt government that favors the wealthy, he also discussed reforming the criminal justice system and the war on drugs, women's rights, investing in education, having a public educational system people can afford, raising the minimum wage, health care reform, childhood poverty, income and wealth inequality, paid family and medical leave, environmental issues, police brutality and reform, and how the American people (not large corporations) have funded, for the first time in American history, a presidential campaign with six million individual donations averaging $27 each.
Do you need more proof that Bernie cannot be bought? (Aside from the fact that he spoke at this rally for free, while Clinton spoke at SUNY Purchase at the high cost of $250,000.)
"What this campaign is about is telling Wall Street and the billionaire class that they cannot, they will not have it all. We will not accept a situation where the top one-tenth of one percent now owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent... We are going to create an economy that works for all of us, not just the people on top. People should not have to work two or three jobs just to get by, and then after all of that, 58 percent of all new income goes to the top one percent. That's wrong."
He continued, saying, "A great nation is judged not by how many millionaires and billionaires it has; it is judged by how it treats the most vulnerable people in that country... Instead of having a Congress that works for the benefit of the few, we are going to have a government that works for all of us."
What struck me the most is that Bernie wasn't reading from a prompter or pre-written cue-cards. Oh, no. He was speaking from the heart.
Though Bernie's speech was incredibly empowering and uplifting, and has convinced me that there has never been a politician of his kind (you know, ones who are honest and decent), the most important thing I took away from this rally is that Bernie cannot do it without us.
Posting on social media or even me writing this article isn't going to help our magical unicorn win. It's volunteering at rallies, phone banking in your state, canvassing your neighborhood, talking about the issues and his stances with your friends and family (even those who don't support him), and most importantly, bringing everyone you know with you to vote in the New York primaries (or the primaries in your state) on April 19th.
So while the Republican candidates continue to talk about their penis size, the affairs of each other's wives, and other mindless, racist, hateful bullsh*t that America somehow seems to be captivated by, I will stand by the man who rises above all that.
The man who actually gives a sh*t about people.
The man who wants to talk about the issues, not focus on the tone of the other candidate before he will agree to debate.
The man who, I believe and hope, will be the next president as he rides into the White House on a rainbow.
Our country is depending on it.