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Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

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“Tio Bernie” thrills Santa Ana

A crowd of nearly 5000 people waits in a line early in the morning at Valley View High School, eager to get into the rally and show their support for Bernie Sanders. The rally was held on Feb. 21, 2020. Photo credit: Jess Paxton

Introduced by Orange County Democratic Party chair Ida Presenio, Vermont’s Junior Senator Bernie Sanders climbed onto the stage at Valley High School in Santa Ana on Friday, February 21st, to a cacophony of cheers. He began to address a throng of nearly 5000, then hesitated and looked about him. “This is a helluva turnout!”

Now the front-runner in the Democratic Party’s race for the presidential nomination, Bernie has a different message: “It is not only the Wall Street establishment that are worried [about his campaign], or the Trump establishment, it is also the Democratic Party establishment.”

Sanders is facing massive backlash from the Democratic National Committee (DNC), who changed their rules in mid-campaign to allow one-time New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg to participate in the Democratic Primary debate prior to the Nevada Caucuses, hoping he would prove a foil for Sanders.

Instead, the newly-anointed Bloomberg was tested by Elizabeth Warren, who accused him of hiding numerous Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) with female employees whom he had sexually harassed. Warren challenged Bloomberg to free the women from the NDAs.

With Bloomberg deflated, Bernie, aka “America’s Grand-Dad” or “Tio Bernie” (Spanish for “Uncle Bernie”) returned to the campaign trail, visiting Orange County before flying back (on coach class, his signature mode of travel) to Nevada to celebrate a massive victory in the Caucuses there on Saturday.


In Santa Ana, Bernie spoke clearly about the campaign ahead. “I am here to respectfully request your support and your vote. If we win in California, we will win the Democratic Nomination, and if we win the nomination, Donald Trump is a one-term president.”

This year, for the first time, the California primary will be held on “Super Tuesday”, a conglomeration of states holding primaries and caucuses on the same day. Traditionally, California has held its primary in June, after all other states have finished theirs.

The Senator from Vermont, one of the smallest states, geographically and in population, is polling so well ahead of his rivals in California that he may collect all of the largest state’s delegates to the Democratic Convention.

But after the 2016 primary campaign, marred by accusations and admissions of rule-bending to outright cheating by the DNC on the behalf of Hillary Clinton, which all but negated the importance of California’s primary, the Golden State has taken its rightful place closer to the head of the pack.

Sanders was continually interrupted by cheers from his supporters and the ubiquitous chant of “Bernie! Bernie!”, sometimes to comic effect. He complained that “Donald Trump embarrasses us every day. Well, we are going to say to Trump,” and as he took a breath, a fan in the crowd finished his sentence with “F*** you!” When the laughter died down, Sanders elicited a new wave of hilarity by responding “That’s one way of putting it!”

Bernie raised a chorus of alto and soprano approbation when he said “The Republican Party keeps claiming they want smaller government. Well, small government begins with the fact that it is a woman’s right to control her body, not the government’s.” He went on to promise to nominate only Supreme Court Justices who backed the Roe v. Wade decision that struck down anti-abortion laws decades ago, but which is in danger of being overturned by a Court packed with right-wing, faux-religious justices, several of which hardly deserve the title, and at least two of whom stand accused by multiple women of rape or attempted rape.

The Sanders campaign relies on grass-roots populism and small fundraising, in contrast to every other campaign (except Bernie’s 2016 attempt to unseat Hillary Clinton in the primaries) since Gene McCarthy’s 1968 campaign, which, like Sanders’ 2016 bid, was decided by the party bigwigs at the expense of the people (the 1968 Democratic Convention was infamous for its protests, and police smashed skulls and arrested thousands after undercover FBI agents who had infiltrated the Anti-War Movement as part of the Bureau’s “Counter-Intelligence Program” provoked riots by tossing bricks at Chicago Cops already on a short fuse).

Sanders supporters, once ridiculed as “Bernie Bros” by the Clintons, are now the most diverse coalition ever in the race for the White House, and with good reason. Bernie marched with Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Junior in the 1960s against American “Apartheid”, has made clear his intention to vacate the jail and prison sentences of anyone convicted for possession of small quantities of drugs and vows to end the racist Private Prison-Industrial Complex.

He also has supported a total overhaul of United States immigration policies and an end to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Bernie stated flatly that “On day one of our administration we will sign an executive order undoing the racist immigration policies of Donald Trump.”

Sanders is unique in his opposition to the economic inequality and lack of opportunity (the “American Dream”) which prevails in 21st-Century America. Referring to the 2008-9 financial collapse and subsequent economic depression, he said “If we can bail out the crooks on Wall Street, we can cancel all student debt. We’ve been building more and more jails; I want to build more and more schools.”

“It is not a radical idea to have healthcare for all,” he repeats at every campaign stop. Drew, a 29-year old healthcare professional working on his medical degree, says that Bernie’s Medicare-for-All program “is the necessary change to healthcare we need in this country,” he said.

Now working as a volunteer for Bernie, Drew says that his 2 months on the campaign have “really opened my eyes to how unique this movement is. Comparing it with the Obama ’08 campaign, he said “the energy surrounding the campaign is similarly powerful and compelling.”

His face burned red by the California sun, Bernie dropped into the audience to shake hands and share hugs with a powerful and compelling message of his own: “Let us go forward; let us defeat Donald Trump; let us transform this country!”


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About the Contributor
Jess Paxton
Jess Paxton, Staff Writer
Jess Paxton is a stage and screen actor who has returned to college after a lengthy hiatus.  He is majoring in Film Production at Cerritos College.  His other skills include art, creative writing, screenwriting, music and both operatic and jazz singing.
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“Tio Bernie” thrills Santa Ana