On Monday March 6, 2016, the day before the presidential primary election for Michigan, Senator Bernie Sanders stopped by Wings Event Stadium to speak to Kalamazoo. An estimated 32 hundred people showed.
With the stadium doors scheduled to open at 7:30am, people arrived hours before, some even camping out in front the previous night.
“We got there at 5:30,” said sophomore Henry Muscara, “at that point there were only 50 people there. It was cool to see people come and see the line snake around.”
Though the temperature was 40 degrees fahrenheit around 7 a.m., and rather warm compared to recent Michigan mornings, many people in line were absolutely freezing.
“The waiting for him was a little hard because my friends and I got there pretty early, so by the time we got to the doors our toes and hands were like ice cubes,” said sophomore Alina Offerman, “but it ended up being worth it.”
At 8:00 a.m., thirty minutes later than the scheduled time, the doors to the stadium opened. Thus began the slow process of the emptying of pockets, purse searching, and walking through metal detectors. Once you passed inspection, and if you were lucky enough to be one of the first people let into the building, you had a chance to stand on the event center floor, where you would be only a few feet away from the man of the hour, Bernie Sanders. Everyone quickly forgot how cold it had been outside as they got ready to “Feel The Bern”.
Now the only thing people could do was wait until 10:30 a.m.; that’s when Sanders would make his appearance.
“We were so thankful that we got there early because we got to go to the front and shake Bernie’s hand,” said Muscara.
The positive energy of the crowd and everyone coming together to fight for equality and fairness was exciting and refreshing.
“It was so awesome to be right there, up close to him,” said Offerman, “Until he came out and started speaking it didn’t feel actually real. The overall experience was really inspiring.”
Junior Olivia Mears was also at ground level.
“Listening to Bernie Sanders made me feel like I was a part of something so much bigger,” said Mears, “Even though I’m not 18 yet and can’t vote, Bernie and his campaign still make it so everyone has a chance to have their voice heard no matter what, and that’s something you just don’t get as often with politics.”
Sanders talked mostly about his main campaign point: the rigged economy. Other candidates have taken donations from billionaires, Wall Street, and super PACs. Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, has not received any money from these institutions. Despite this big hole in fundraising that would normally be the largest contributor to a presidential campaign, Bernie Sanders has raised more money than any candidate in the 2016 election. His campaign has received more money than the other candidates through five million individual donations at an average of $27 apiece; from average, hard working Americans. This is was not only important to the crowd at Wings Stadium, but is a huge accomplishment and talking point in Sanders’ campaign. The Wings Stadium crowd cheered at its loudest during this section of his speech.
He also talked about Black Lives Matter, the importance and necessity of equality, free college for all students, and creating “a future that we can believe in.”
“He just seems like a genuine guy,” said sophomore Maddie Preussel who attended the rally, “He wants a more equal world for us all, and that’s just what we need.”
Bernie is more than just a presidential candidate. He is a symbol for change, a symbol for equality, a symbol of doing something because it’s the right thing to do. That’s who we need in office: someone who does things because they’re the right thing to do, who doesn’t have any ulterior motives, and who benefits the entirety of America and not just one group of people.
“So to quote Abraham Lincoln in Gettysburg,” Sanders said in unison with the crowd, “‘this is a campaign of the people, by the people, and for the people.”