An Evening With Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders’ chances of becoming the next President of the United State keep getting slimmer. After losing on Tuesday night to Hillary Clinton in New York, Sanders trails in delegates by 741. For Sanders to win the nomination, it will take something shocking, a mix of blowing Clinton out in states from now until the Democratic National Convention and a number of superdelgates changing their allegiance from the former Secretary of State to the Senator from Vermont.
Basically, Sanders needs to rack up big victories in states like Pennsylvania. That’s why he visited Happy Valley on Tuesday evening for a rally in Rec Hall, one which hit on all of the major talking points that you’ve heard from Sanders for months and captivated the raucous crowd of supporters and, in some cases, dissenters.
The crowd buzzed as it waited for the self-proclaimed “Democratic Socialist” to take the stage at 7 p.m. Music blared, chants for Sanders and Penn State filled the room, and a wave even broke out (seriously). Prior to his speech, two students addressed the crowd: Lauren Smith of Penn State Students for Bernie Sanders and Jacob Ryan, the director of Centre County for Bernie Sanders.
Smith questioned those who have called Sanders “idealistic” as an insult and wondered when that word took on a negative connotation. She also noted that her favorite line in the Constitution is “in order to form a more perfect Union,” and contended that Sanders is “the only candidate running whose platform seeks to form a more perfect union.” Ryan called Sanders’ announcement that he would seek the presidency a “turning point” in his life, as it inspired him to change his major from engineering to political science.
Sanders was also introduced by Sophia McClennen (above), the associate director of the School of International Affairs and a professor of comparative literature and international affairs. McClennen emphasized that she saw Sanders’ values not as radical, but as virtuous.
“Bernie has worked tirelessly to remind the public that supporting those in need is a virtue, not a catastrophe,” McClennen said. “And that challenging inequality is a moral duty, not a crime. And that standing up for the rights of others is what defines democracy, not what destroys it.”
McClennen, who we wrote about in our March/April 2013 issue, also applauded Sanders for his view on young people, saying that he refuses to see “our nation’s youth as a pack of spoiled slackers waiting for handouts” and claimed that students in attendance were a part of the “most maligned generation in decades.”
Finally, Sanders took the stage, remarking that it appeared to him that Penn State is prepared for the political revolution that he has attempted to spearhead. Rec Hall reacted with a fervor usually saved for rock stars.
All in all, there’s nothing that Sanders said that you haven’t heard out of him over the last few months, as he’s gone from a relative unknown to one of the most prominent figures in American politics. He discussed inequities in the economy and the criminal justice system. He took his shots at Clinton, as everyone would expect, and mixed the quick wit that shows up every now and then on the campaign trail with the explosive, passionate stump speech that has endeared him to left-leaning voters.
Mostly, he oozed optimism, from the “A Future To Believe In” theme to one of his final lines: “When we stand together, there is nothing that we cannot accomplish.”
Bill DiFilippo, online editor