This week I went to the San Diego Convention Center on Tuesday morning at 10:30 a.m. I’m a veteran of many Comic-Cons, so it was eerie to walk along a nearly-deserted sidewalk and go right into the building. Inside, things got a bit more familiar. There was a roped off area inhabited by about 20 people. I assessed the situation and claimed a spot against a wall to support my back, near 3 friendly Latinas. To my left, a young man was immersed in Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yoginanda and listening to music. Cell phones were already being charged in the few electrical outlets. We were in for a long wait. The doors to the event would open at 5 p.m.
As time progressed, the space filled and people were crammed in close. Volunteers with clipboards picked their way carefully through the throngs, registering people to vote and getting signatures on proposed initiatives. A baby slumbered face down on a blanket near his watchful mom, a young blonde woman braided her boyfriend’s long locks into a festive look and passed out organic fruit, I got to chat with a smart Latino boy and his charming Muslim long-time friend.
As it drew closer to 5 p.m., local security gave announcements over an inadequate bullhorn that blared with static. I think he spoke about what we could/could not bring into the event, but no one could really hear, except maybe 3 people in the front. Then the Secret Service took over. We all went through metal detectors and security screenings. I lamented not eating the two protein bars that were tossed out.
People swarmed into Halls D & E. I’d never seen it empty. At Comic Con it’s used as the main exhibit hall and is packed with vendors and nerds. Now, volunteers directed us toward the stage where Bernie Sanders would appear. Behind us was another stage filled with members of the press with cameras and behind that stage were tables for reporters. Music played, including “Disco Inferno” (Bern, baby, Bern). People held signs, tossed around balloons and chatted. Outside, the lines were so long they rivaled those at Comic Con when the Dr. Who or Game of Thrones cast made appearances. They let people into a side room to watch the event on a video screen. The total attendance: nearly 15 thousand people.
My boyfriend, who had arrived late, managed to sneak into the building and find me. While he’d been outside plotting his way in, he’d gotten a Bernie temporary tattoo on his neck. An older woman from Wisconsin, who was a voracious reader, chatted with a high school age boy who did a killer Bernie impression. A tall man with a beard sat serenely in the lotus position and meditated. The press played blaring coverage by CNN talking about the GOP race until the crowd chanted “Turn it off! Turn it OFF!”
Finally, around 8:30 p.m., after standing pressed together for three hours, Rosario Dawson took the stage and gave an eloquent speech about why now is the time for everyone to be engaged in the political process. You can listen to it here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igxN65qK_Ek
Then Bernie Sanders arrived. He’d spent the morning talking to students in Flagstaff, Arizona (I won’t talk about the voter suppression in Arizona or the need to reinstate the voters’ rights act in this country, but if you don’t know about it, get on Twitter and put in the hashtags #ArizonaElectionFraud or #RestoretheVRA) Sanders had also made an appearance in Los Angeles on the Jimmy Kimmel show. He’s 74 years old and filled with energy, except for a voice that, understandably, cut out here and there from overuse. You can watch his full speech here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGfnuO7kLwU
It’s hard to describe the atmosphere, the love, the energy. Once you see Bernie in person, it validates everything you’ve read about his trustworthiness and compassion. From a viewpoint as a public speaking coach, he’s a master. But I don’t say that in a way that suggests he’s trying to manipulate his audience. When he talks about what’s happening in the world and where he stands on issues, his sincerity shines. He begins segments of his speech with the phrase “This campaign is listening to our brothers and sisters in…” and goes on to talk about the African American, Latino, Native American, gay and female communities. Around me, there were people of all ages and ethnic groups, all finally waking up and understanding that we aren’t in control of this country anymore. Corporations, Wall Street and other special interests took away democracy ages ago, and many didn’t notice.
If you want to know who the Establishment wants in power, see who’s getting the mainstream media press (Hint: It’s everyone but Bernie Sanders.) If you’ve never gone outside TV news, go online and watch The Young Turks.
Now is the time to get past superficial preferences and learn about candidates. What are their positions? Does their platform make sense for you as a whole? I’m a “no party preference” voter because I want the chance to look at both parties. In the California primary, I can’t vote for a Republican because I’d have to be registered as one. I’ve checked their candidates on all issues, and until they change on women and minority issues, I’m out of that party. That leaves Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.
I won’t vote for Hillary on the sole basis that she’s a woman and we allegedly need a woman president. I was a prosecutor at age 24 and have been through plenty of the issues women deal with in a male-dominated career, especially when I first started. Being female should never be the only qualification. I also want a woman I can trust. I’ve looked at Secretary Clinton’s record in depth and she’s changed her stance on so many issues over the years, it’s hard to keep track of them all. Since the Michigan primary is over, I’d like to find a time she’s mentioned Flint again. I know Senator Sanders did at the San Diego rally. She’s also more hawkish on getting involved in wars (She voted to go into Iraq)
Who you prefer is always your business, but please look at the FACTS about your preferred candidate, not just the “spin.” Get educated, get involved. When you’re done doing a thorough check and someone asks you why you voted for (your candidate choice) you will have real reasons, not just “feelings.” You will be able to state them with confidence. You will be part of what has always made America great– people getting involved in democracy.
Register to vote, give money, give time and VOTE. Your country depends on it.