Yes, I meant to not misspell the word 'burn,' because yesterday I Felt The Bern, today I am indeed Feeling The Burn. Sunburn, that is. Yikes.
So yeah, yesterday I took the afternoon off from work and headed to Kissimmee for a stop on Bernie's pre-primary swing through Florida. The basic recap is this: I am glad I went, of course, but if I'd known exactly what was involved I probably wouldn't have. Hindsight being 20/20, if I'd known it was an all-outdoor event with plenty of space, I'd have shown up a lot later and been a lot more prepared to be out in the sun. But as it was, I took literally the phrase 'doors open at noon' (not to mention all the media clips I've see of indoor rallies) and was in line shortly after 11am, only to discover (after waiting in line for some time, of course) that the main event didn't begin until 3pm and the whole thing was taking place outside. But by then I was there and committed, so I stuck with it.
I made some friends in line, and we chatted while we waited. There were campaign volunteers roaming the line as more people arrived and it snaked back and forth. Some were leading little chants (Feel the? BERN! Hey hey, ho ho, corporate greed has got to go!), some were signing up volunteers for phonebanking and canvassing. There were also some capitalists roaming around, selling Bernie shirts and hats and buttons. I was pleased to see quite a diverse crowd--still majority white, but plenty of minorities represented as well, and every imaginable age from infants to seniors. Nice to see. I'd considered bringing one or two of the girls myself, but I'm glad I didn't given all the waiting around--they'd have been miserable.
Once we got into the actual area where the rally was to take place, we staked out a spot to the right of the stage, maybe 75 feet from the podium. And there we waited. Behind us there was a side stage, upon which a few local bands provided pre-show entertainment. Several of them were pretty decent. The first was a jazzy jam band, and I think several of its members stuck around as part of the next act, a band of (what looked to me like) high-school-age kids called The Charter. Then a group of Puerto Rican guys playing percussion and singing traditional Boricua music. And the last band was rather unusual: a 2-man group called Grey Market, consisting of a drummer and a guitarist, both singing and playing along to prerecorded backing tracks in a sort of Muse/Tool vein with a clear old-school-Rush-style sci-fi bent. The music was pretty good, but the singing was.. not. The guitarist tended to sing in a rather terrible falsetto. Maybe it was an off day, I'd be interested in hearing if they have any recorded material. Ah, I see they have an album coming out in May, may have to check it out.
At length Bernie's motorcade arrived, and a great cheer went through the crowd. But we still had a ways to go. A couple locals gave a little speech about supporting Bernie for the Latino community--Kissimmee has a huge Puerto Rican population. Then a lady sang the national anthem and did a pretty fine job of it. Then we waited a bit more. Then a real treat I was not expecting:
Tulsi Gabbard, a US Representative from Hawaii. She's the one who made some minor waves recently by resigning her position on the Democratic National Committee so she could endorse Bernie. Since then I've heard her name mentioned as a potential running mate, should it come to that. I'm not so sure about the idea--she's awesome, but she's so young: she's not even 35 until next month, which is the absolute minimum to serve as VP. And given Bernie's age, his VP choice would be a crucial consideration for a lot of voters. She also happens to be Hindu, and while I would love a completely non-Christian Presidential ticket, it would make the GOP's collective head explode. :) But anyway, not that I had one before, but Tulsi is my new political crush and I am not ashamed to admit it.
Then at last, sporting a UCF ballcap, Bernie took the stage. Having been a fan of his for years, well before he entered this race, I've listened to many of his speeches and of course they contain a lot of the same themes and elements. So not much new there. But I did like how he presented it. I'd call it the 'This Campaign Listens' speech, as that was the device he used to bring up each point. "This campaign listens to young people," before going into his bit on free college tuition and reducing student debt. "This campaign listens to women," before going into the equal pay stuff. "This campaign listens to African-Americans," before talking about poverty and the criminal justice system. You get the idea. It was nicely done, and the crowd was into it. Lots of cheers, boos for the villains, and chants of Ber-nie, Ber-nie! I enjoyed that part quite a bit.
But yeah, getting to that part was a minor ordeal, and today I am paying the price for 5 hours in the sun. Ugh. I wore a red shirt to work in hopes that it would match my face better. Luckily I can mostly stay in my office with the lights dimmed and the door shut. :)
And that was my Sanders rally experience. Definitely glad I can say I did it. And I am not at all eager to do it again. Though maybe I would, if he manages to win the nomination. There's still a hope, though much of that hope depends on how my own state goes next Tuesday. I've done my part!