Bernie is My Super Hero
words and photos by Randy Leavitt
Last night, as dusk approached, I walked down Church Street in Burlington, Vermont, toward the Flynn Theater where Donald Trump was holding a campaign rally, and where I expected a to find a large crowd of protesters. I was not disappointed. I was wearing my excellent Superman costume and carrying a sign that said, “Bernie is my Super Hero.”
By the time I got halfway down Church Street, I already had people laughing at the costume and giving me high fives and asking to take my picture. As I neared the City Park an elderly woman approached and asked me if I was going to the rally and if she could join me. Then, as we walked, she explained she was a Muslim and she was afraid to go to the rally alone, but she said she couldn’t stay home either. She told me about recent harassment she has encountered and said she just wanted to live her life, like anyone else would.
I think, all kidding aside, she felt safe with me -- with Superman. It is a funny costume, and, really, as powerful a figure as Superman is, in real life, with me wearing his suit with the plastic muscles and the bold primary colored tights and underwear worn on the outside… I can be quite charming -- and disarming.
So, she joined me and we entered the park together to find a small but growing crowd. Main Street was closed; barricades were set up to keep people off the street. On the far side of the street, in front of the Flynn theater, more barricades were set up, these to funnel those waiting in line who wanted to hear Trump speak -- or to protest him and his message -- into the theater.
The people in the Trump line itself, those still eager to enter what must have been a nearly full building, stretched around the corner from the Flynn Theater away from the lights and the sounds of Main Street for at least two blocks to where it disappeared into the darkness. I tried to get a better view of how far the line stretched, but as I approached the line I could feel the anger rising from the people along with the steam from their breath in the cold.
I heard later that Trump told the crowd inside that there were 20,000 of his supporters waiting outside. A lie. I think it was more like 1,000 and just as many Bernie supporters in the city park across the street. I spent nearly all my time mingling with the crowd in the park. I must have had a hundred great conversations; I was interviewed by five different news organizations including Al Jazeera, Seven Days and the New York Times.
I had my picture taken so many times I can’t even say. Sometimes there were ten or more people taking my picture at once. I posed with kids and men and women and groups and with a man in a clown suit whose sign said, “It's not funny,” which was funny.
I had a great time all night, and I was so glad to have been there. My message was clear but delivered with a lightheartedness that is, again, disarming. For me, at least, this method works well, and I have found using humor is a good way to move though the world.
Somewhere, early on in the evening, I lost my new Muslim friend. Last I saw her she was enjoying the fair-like atmosphere in the park. People were handing out candles, there were fun signs and t-shirts for sale. A pizza place around the corner was handing out free pizza, and a woman gave us some snacks for free because she said it was cold out and she needed to do something. There were just lots of very nice, interesting, outgoing people.
I talked to a man who was a 'Nam vet who was homeless until Bernie became mayor of Burlington, and he said Bernie changed his life. I talked to some women who stood in the Trump line and had entered the theater but were forced out when it became clear they were Bernie supporters. For me being there with all these people was invigorating, and it did a lot to restore my hope.
Three times during the night, while the line of people waited to see if they could get in to hear Trump speak, even though the Flynn was already full, I approached the line to have a better look. It felt truly dismal. In the relative darkness down that street, it looked like a depression era lineup of hungry people looking for work at a slaughterhouse. Their superhero, Trump, had abandoned them, allowing the ticket agents to give out ten-times more tickets than the Flynn has seats. They were on their own. Some had waited all day. They couldn’t get in and there was nothing for them outside. No community -- just abandoned.
There was little color in the line -- okay due to the darkness perhaps, but it felt colorless and drab even more than it looked. Each time I approached the line, in my funny super-suit, I was assaulted with angry words. I was called a moron, a f*cking a**hole, a dipsh*t, a traitor and a queer. It was astonishing. Debilitating even. There were children in the line as well holding signs, the poor things. But what I didn’t feel or see in the Trump line was happiness. None.
I overheard many conversations, and they were all angry and filled with hate -- every one of them. Take this with as much salt as you require, for I am a Bernie supporter and always have been, but each time I returned from that cold place where the Trump supporters waited down the block, I felt like I was leaving a cold, dark, cave, and returning to something warmer, brighter, safer, more creative, happier, more joyful really.
When I came around the corner, the music in the park and cheerfulness of all those Bernie supporters chanting against Trump and his hateful message moved me. It was rhythmic and soothing and comforting. The whole festival was filled with fun and engaging people who were dancing and cheering and laughing. My people. My community. Yet, all the while, inside the theater, hate.
What I think -- Trump can’t win. He only has hate to draw his supporters. He hasn’t a plan or the capability to lead. He is a complainer, a blamer. He assembles people around him who are vulnerable and eager to blame everyone else -- anyone who is different. He is a sad and sorry man. He left all those supporters out in the dark and cold with not so much as a howdy-do. They eventually were told that there was no room for them, and they disappeared into the night.I am glad that I went to the rally, and I am glad to have met all the people I met. And I am glad to have led the Muslim woman into the safe place we found in the city park.
You won’t find this story on the evening news.
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Congratulations, Bernie! You rocked Iowa last night!
|The scene at Carol's in Sandusky, OH. We were yelling and cheering as we watched the results of the Iowa caucus on TV as well as online at Bernie2016TV. We know who the real winners were last night--us, the American people. Go Bernie! New Hampshire is yours! #NotMeUs #CaucusForBernie #ShowTheVotes
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#BernieStrong in Toledo, Ohio
Photos by Cindy and Adrian Matthews
This past Saturday, about 300 people showed up for a last minute "official national organization" meet-up in Toledo. It was standing room only! Will E., who is traveling throughout the Midwest for the Bernie Sanders Campaign, fired us up and got us setting up phone bank events throughout the area. Rumor has it that we may be seeing Bernie in the Buckeye State in March before our primary on the 15th. Remember, you can go to http://map.berniesanders.com and sign up for a phone bank and/or other Bernie event today!
|Standing room only in a wedding hall. Awesome last minute turn out and Will says we had more people than the Columbus area meet-up. Take that C-bus! The Glass City rocks!
|Jamie made badges and brought them to distribute to other Berners.
We raised $185 in donations to the campaign.
|Will E. from the national organization inspired us to get out and phone bank for Bernie. About 90% of the people in the hall said this was their first time volunteering in a political campaign.