A roaring crowd of over 9,100 people overflowed the Greensboro Coliseum Complex Sunday to attend Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders’ rally. In scouring the waves of Bernie supporters lined up to be seated inside the rally, consistent themes among attendees were apparent.
A sample of about 50 people said that they felt as though they could trust Bernie Sanders. They believed his views could revive the current political landscape. Although his goals are lofty, they thought he was a more viable Democratic candidate than Hillary Clinton.
Cecillia Cherubini, UNC Greensboro freshman and Sanders fan, arrived several hours before the rally and personally met Sanders. Cherubini said that Sanders’ economic platform one of the primary reasons she endorses Sanders.
“All of his other platforms hinge on his economic platform: his platform on racial inequality, his platform on feminism and his platform on education. He doesn’t want the top money going to the one tenth of the one percent, the billionaires. What I like about him [Sanders] is that he doesn’t just have ideas, he has a plan to tax wall street make [and] taxes higher for the rich and to keep the middle class from disappearing like it already is,” said Cherubini.
Cherubini emphasized the core of Sanders’ platform. She expressed feeling hope at the prospect of a Sanders presidency. Many rally attendants echoed similar sentiments, using the word, “revolution” — a slogan Sanders had printed on buttons, stickers, T-shirts and verbally chanted.
Some supporters, however, remain dubious as to how Sanders will effectively carry out his “revolutionary” economic goals, such as free college, without consequence.
Caitlin Bobbitt, UNCG freshman and rally onlooker, felt as though Sanders’ radical platform stances, while good in theory, were unrealistic and could have potentially negative economic consequences.
“Raising the minimum wage to $15 dollars an hour is a great idea, but, with inflation, it seems like we’d have to raise prices. Like someone working at McDonalds will have their wages pushed to $15 dollars an hour, but someone working in a business making $13, $14 an hour will only have their wages raised to $15 an hour, too,” said Bobbitt.
Stuart Belcher, UNCG freshman and rally participant, felt as though the economics of Sanders’ plan would actually be feasible because similar models in Europe exist.
If the minimum wage were adjusted to $15 an hour, Belcher said, “I feel like prices would go up [but] price inflation would, in time, meet pay inflation. So, I feel like overall, it would even out, especially if we took some of the money from the bigger corporations.”
While many rally viewers praised or contested Sanders’ economic plan, others felt as though his stances on social issues could potentially backfire with voters.
James Carter, UNCG freshman and rally goer, noted that some of Sanders’ rallying points either excited or immediately turned off crowd members.
“I noticed that some people started to walk out when he mentioned his plan for undocumented immigrants and gay marriage. The stadium was packed and I don’t think it was particularly controversial, but, some of his ideas are very radical to more moderate left-leaning voters,” said Carter.
Masami Oshita, UNCG senior and Sanders supporter, gauged the audience vibe differently. Oshita noted the enthusiasm of the crowd, old and young, and that the visibility of signs reading “Latins for Bernie” and “Bernie cares: climate change now,” contributed to this.
“He makes an effort to connect to young people, and I think the crowd at the rally reflected this. His ideas were nothing like anything else anyone has been saying before… [Policies under Sanders] would be a really great step forward for our nation. I think it’s necessary, and it [the policies] definitely give our generation a chance to step up a little more,” Oshita said.
November Ragsdale, UNCG senior and attendee, agreed with many of Sanders’ points. However, they also took issue with the way Sanders discussed the police in relation to the death of black lives in police custody.
“I didn’t really enjoy the way he talked all the police force. I believe the individual within the police force can be innately good or bad, but the fact that he was saying that they were good; the institution that the police force is based off of is innately and inherently wrong.”
Ragsdale qualified that while they did agree with a majority of the policies in Sanders’ platform, they feel as though many of Sanders’ proposals need further clarification in a way that a majority of voters can understand. Ragsdale expressed hope that as Sanders’ campaign progresses, more detailed information will become available.
Artemis Wingerson, UNCG senior and rally guest, said that they appreciated the way Sanders was willing to learn from past events and controversies, such as the prior speech interruption, in which protestors called for more support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
“He’s willing to make his platform more diverse once things come up to make him more aware that things are changing, and that he is willing to learning work with that,” said Wingerson