|Pictured above: My view of a thousand necks and haircuts.|
There was a time where music and politics were so intwined that you could not avoid writing about one without at least touching on the other. In some ways you can blame the internet for that practice falling by the wayside, if only by virtue of the fact that there is so much noise to cut through, or perhaps there is something more here that I can’t quite put my finger on. Suffice it to say, we rarely touch on politics at this blog, and while some of us may be a bit more shy than others on the subject, it’s fairly obvious how we skew on the matter. Look at this from a meta-textual perspective: we’re not writing about Big Willy, also here in town today to give a speech, and we didn’t write about that prolapsed anus slathered in bronzer that thinks its people when his rotten hate wave rolled through town inciting the mouth breathers into a frenzy. But we are writing about Bernie Sanders.
Before I go any further, I just want to comment on one of the links I included up above and how it only perpetuates the kind of sexism I have no interest in participating in here and which has become increasingly apparent as this election season progresses. I spent a little time trying to find an appropriately goofy image of Bill Clinton, a President whose actions I did not support, but came up largely empty handed. The majority of images I found were of this heroic Bill Clinton caricature that is righting wrongs and getting all the babes, usually at the detriment of Hillary Clinton and often at her offense. There are plenty of reasons I’ve found to not support Clinton, but anything other than her politics is just disgusting and should be stomped out at every turn.
I didn’t account for the logistics of this event. I had this overly simplistic view of showing up, congregating, and watching someone speak, that was curtailed the moment I saw a line that stretched about a 1/4 of a mile and ended with pat downs by police and apolitical members of the Secret Service, who told us “You elect them, we protect them.” I guess that’s a good thing? They were very particular about what was and wasn’t allowed at the event, which unfortunately included bike helmets. On top of that, it was difficult to find a place to lock your bike up, and there wasn’t a lot in place to let you know what to do while you waited in line. There was a lot going on downtown and parking was at a premium, so it struck me as strange that there would be such limited resources for cyclists.
Unfortunately this caused my companion to leave, as he would have risked losing both his helmet and a few tools he had with him for bike repairs, so I was alone at the event, or at least it felt as such at first. The median age there was Hot Topic patron. There were vape pens everywhere, if not just teens and twenty-somethings in hand-me-downs carelessly smoking cigarettes and blowing it into the crowd. There were kids sitting in the crowd reading books, which looked very precious and clever. None of that is a bad thing, but I felt out of place, although I’m not sure I can explain what that place might be, or how it would look. Maybe a La-Z Boy?
One all-male group of scrubs near me were especially tenacious in their desire to smoke all the cigarettes, huffing and puffing all while making these “delightful” jokes like every internet meme had sprung to life and got rascally over my shoulder. One particularly nebbish kid asked them to please not blow smoke in his face, because he had asthma. The offender apologized, but as soon as the kid got lost they started mocking him and everyone else who might be upset at being in a crowded place and having smoke blown in their face. They busted on Hillary for being a “cunt,” and spent time chanting “Daddy,” which I think was supposed to be some kind of skit or meme or something.
Fortunately, I ran into Floyd Patterson, aka Pronoun, and we caught up for a while about his music and how awesome our hip-hop scene is in town. He’s right, you know. Louisville is a great place for music in general, and our hip-hop scene is on fire. It was refreshing to talk to someone that I have never formally met, but who I have a lot in common with, and relatively emblematic of the night. Once Bernie came out, it was made pretty clear that all the differences that I thought I had with the crowd were ultimately superficial irrelevancies.
It was a good speech. After two openers that didn’t really rouse the crowd (both were relatable just not experienced orators), Sanders came out to extraordinary applause. His speech was tight and well crafted, underscoring his skill at public speaking. He offered a summary breakdown of his campaign points, which began with education and healthcare, and moved progressively into more social matters. He mentioned his opponents a few times, but never got ugly about them. For Clinton, he illustrated the disparities in their voting records and campaign funding. For Trump… well, he was a bit more on the nose in terms of what a racist zealot he is, using that opportunity again to illustrate his own history of progressive social politics.
He anticipated questions that might be asked, especially regarding how things ought to be funded. He indicted the war in the Middle East as a waste both of human life and wealth. He indicted the oil industry for exploiting the environment for capital gain. He indicted Wall Street for taking what he identified as illegal actions against the American public, a fact that I can’t speak too, but which seems dubious under even the most cursory of scrutiny. He indicted the war on drugs as a waste of time and income. In doing these things, he proposed fair taxes imposed on those disproportionately wealthy, as well as a decriminalization of marijuana.
In the middle of his speech he learned that he won Indiana. It was a nice moment to share in that victory with a crowd, and one that I won’t forget any time soon. He learned by someone yelling at him, which happened a lot, but he always took it in stride. He never called anyone out for getting over-excited or anything like that. I want to say that he made everyone feel comfortable, but I can really only speak to my experiences. Hearing him say the things that I’ve felt for my entire life, that we should focus on things like education, healthcare, and progressive social values, that we should help those less fortunate than ourselves, and that we should not privilege the privileged is refreshing.
Every time I read something about what constitutes a “pragmatic” choice in this or any other political race, I cringe at the condescension. The idea that you have to fit some specific archetype to qualify as a political figure is anathema to me, and the large and eclectic crowd at the rally only supports this. Sanders touches a lot of different minds for a lot of different reasons, and it’s nice to see that in action. Equally nice was the tone by the campaign, at least insofar as I witnessed, that there wasn’t any negativity hurled at Hillary, and never any name calling to anyone except for Drumpf, and only then by addressing his platform of base bigotry and hatred. It was an affirming event and one that I felt better having witnessed.