On the Trail with Bernie Sanders - Part II
Part Two: The Path to Redemption
“I fail to see what the big deal is,” Bernie said to me from across the table in a diner right outside Des Moines, “I’m just trying to spread my message.” He lifted a spoonful of tomato soup to his mouth, muttering an expletive under his breath as some spilled off the spoon onto his robes. Recently, he had exchanged his suits for plain white robes he stitched himself, claiming that he “didn’t want to be wearing the costume of the very businessmen he was fighting against.” In all honesty, it was the least surprising event of recent months.
The blind man in New Hampshire was really a sort of opening of floodgates for the Sanders campaign, and I very quickly found myself swept away by the current. Visits on the campaign trail were rapidly and inexplicably swapped out for trips to leper colonies, a move that became much more explicable when Bernie began ending the need for said colonies. Weekly luncheons he had been hosting on the campaign trail had to be postponed indefinitely, as people kept finding themselves, much to their surprise and Bernie’s great amusement, drunk off their asses when their water turned into 2010 Sauvignon Blanc. Just last week, I had watched him deliver a speech for a rally on Lake Michigan. And I don’t mean a lakeside rally. I mean we stood on the beach, as he stood on the waters of Lake Michigan, and spoke about the importance of protecting local ecology. It was effective, if a little over the top. But who know I would ever get so comfortable with miracles that I could describe one as gauche?
Social media had been plastered in coverage of Bernie since he’d really started trailblazing. It was rare these days to see the naturally cynical Social Media Generation take to something so wholeheartedly, but Bernie had found some kind of catalyst—a combination of honesty, simplicity, and a pursuit of what was important to the people—that had fully captured their attention. In my time with him, Bernie had gone from being a small-name candidate with a fondness for building chairs in his spare time to a voice for the people, and the establishment had noticed.
Bernie had found some kind of catalyst—a combination of honesty, simplicity, and a pursuit of what was important to the people—that had fully captured their attention.
Recently, I had watched as a veritable cavalcade of democratic leaders had visited Bernie in private. I wasn’t privy to the topic of conversation, but judging by the increased frequency with which they visited, and the looks on their faces as they left, it wasn’t too hard to guess what their purpose was, and the answer they received. It was no secret anymore that the gap between Bernie and Hillary, the odds-on favorite, had been steadily shrinking. What had once been a simple distraction was now a true challenge, and the party was afraid it couldn’t stand up to an assault, so it was trying to cut it off at the head. Bernie stood strong, however. And then, he delivered his greatest challenge yet.
July 18th, 2016. The Lincoln Memorial. A speech that has been shared more than any political speech on Youtube. Standing on political holy grounds, Bernie delivered a speech excoriating the very people whose territory he was in. He called out the politicians, their supporters, the very people who had gathered at the Memorial to hear him for their pettiness, their unwillingness to work together. It was a powerful, irresistible tour-de-force. It was the last straw.
As Bernie wiped the soup off his robes, we both stood to go. It was July 23rd, two nights before the Democratic National Convention. And neither of us knew it then, but the plans that would end Bernie Sanders had already been put in motion.
To be concluded in Part III.