It was a cold and rainy Friday night in Boston. By the time I got there, two hours before either Bernie or Warren were to take the stage, the line of people waiting wrapped around the corner. The Orpheum Theater in Boston is a grand old thing, over 160 years old used for music, vaudeville and more, but this night is was filled for progressive politics.
While Senators Warren and Sanders were the headliners, the Our Revolution line-up was considerably local. With people from the Fight for 15 and IBEW speaking before the main event, the progressive credentials were more than qualified. Beyond fighting for a higher wage and a support fro Sanders in the 2016 Presidential race it was the new Our Revolution movement that brought everyone together.
After the Sanders campaign dissolved, many of the campaign staffers and other progressive activists created a way to continue feeling the Bern. While the Obama campaign did a similar thing with turning Obama For America to Organizing for Action the Bernie version is actually working for something other than just working to promote the President.
After some particularly “Bernie” music from the jam band on stage and a handful of musical acts and speakers, the program began with the uproarious entrance of Massachusetts Senior Senator, Elizabeth Warren.
Senator Warren started with her story of the first time that she met Bernie, before she became a Senator, at a dinner meeting that she, of course, brought “a fist full of charts.” While most people didn’t pay much attention to the then Professor “there was this one guy with his bright white hair, who said ‘WHAT WHAT!’ and we got into it, back and forth and back and forth… it’s like there was nobody else in the room. And that was the start with Bernie Sanders.”
Warren, continued to move the crowd – more than I’ve seen from her at other talks – declaring all the things that they (the crowd and her) were going to fight for in the coming years against the movements of the Trump Administration.
“I cannot believe I have to say this in 2017, we believe women should make their own health care decisions over their own bodies. That Planned Parenthood will receive funding from the Federal government. We will fight for them…This one is really a problem in Washington, I believe in science. And because of that, I believe climate change is real and we have a moral obligation to protect this Earth…We believe that Wall Street needs more regulation, not less regulation. So let me just do one more… and that is we believe that democracy is not for sale!”
The crowd, already riled up by Warren’s finishing fighting words went to their feet when Senator Bernie Sanders took to the stage, embracing Warren with a hug. Bernie, after a moment to let the crowds cheers die down went straight to it – an evolved talk from usual campaign stump speech. It went into fighting, not just Trump but figuring out a way to win his voters back, declaring that Trump’s voters were not racists, homophobes but looking for something more. That something was, as Bernie declared, not something that the Democratic Party was offering.
“In case you forgot, there was an election in November. And Donald Trump won. And I want to say a word about that… and not everyone here will agree with me… some people think that the people that voted for Trump are racists, and sexists and homophobes and just deplorable folks. I don’t agree. i don’t agree, because I’ve been there. And let me tell you something else that some of you may not agree with…it wasn’t that the Donald Trump won the election but that the Democratic Party lost the election.”
Bernie went on to argue that we (as in the crowd and the Democratic Party) shouldn’t just fight against Trump’s policies but offer another options and write new policy.
“Our job…and I’m going to introduce this legislation within the month, is to pass a Medicare for all single payer program. Please don’t tell me that if Canada can guarantee health care to all of their people at about half the cost per capita, if the United Kingdom can guarantee to all of their people, if German can do it, and Denmark, and Holland, and Sweden. If every major country on Earth guarantees health care to all people and costs a fraction per capita of what we spend. Don’t tell me that in the United States of America we cannot do that.”
The crowd was most certainly feeling the Bern, with standing ovation after standing ovation the old theater was rocking. Declarations from the crowd of “BERNIE 2020” were the most consistent yell from the crowd. Senator Sanders, clearly used to this by now moved on, working through his progressive policy dream lists of increasing the minimum wage and overtime protection. Saying, “We are human beings, not beasts of burden.” Which really was the summary statement for the evening, a declaration of not just fighting back but moving forward. This is where Sanders and Warren separated themselves from the rest of the Democratic Party. While Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz claimed that her party was already a grassroots party – the Our Revolution movement was working to make that statement true.