Bernie returns to Vermont roots after competitive Super Tuesday

By ARIADNE WILL

 

ESSEX JUNCTION — Exactly 31 years after his first mayoral win in Burlington, Vermont Senator and presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders held a rally at Champlain Valley Exposition to cap off Super Tuesday.

The fairground venue, which expected an audience of around 10,000, filled up Tuesday evening with Sanders supporters who came to watch primary results roll in all evening. The boisterous crowd listened to speeches by Bernie himself, Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman, Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan and Jane Sanders, the Senator’s wife.

“[This campaign] is about transforming this country,” Bernie told the crowd. “This movement started right here.”

The movement Bernie is leading, Jane said, is characterized by community — one that should feel familiar to Vermonters. “[Vermonters] taught me that being a community organizer is more important than being a politician,” she said.

Bernie also made multiple appeals to the working class at the rally, a hallmark of his campaigning style. 

“What we need is a new politics that brings working class and young people into our movement,” he said in his address. He added that the inclusivity of his campaign will help achieve high voter turnout, echoing hopes of creating a coalition similar to Obama’s in 2008 and contradicting claims that he would not be able to generate a sufficient voter base to beat President Donald Trump this November.

Bernie addressed the prominence of billionaire campaign funding, which has been a fixture of other Democratic campaigns.

“We’re going to tell [Michael Bloomberg] that in America, you cannot buy elections,” Bernie said, contrasting Bloomberg’s campaign spending with his grassroots efforts. Bloomberg, who spent $500 million of his own money on his campaign, according to AP, dropped out of the race Wednesday.

The rally also featured live music by the Mallett Brothers Band, a Maine group who was joined onstage by bassist Mike Gordon and drummer Jon Fishman of the jam band Phish. 

“Phish and Bernie — two things I love,” said Billy Stark ’22, a Middlebury student who drove up to attend the rally. “What draws me to Bernie [is that a] lot of his campaign is built on raising class consciousness, something that’s sorely missed in [this] country. It’s been inspiring to see so many people in America embrace Bernie’s platform.”

Stark said that he first started supporting Bernie in 2016 and has supported the candidate since.

Loyalty was certainly one of the themes of the night, and Bernie invoked his Vermont roots to talk about some of his most stalwart supporters.

“We have come a long long way,” Bernie said, referencing his position 30 years prior. “I want to thank the State of Vermont and all of the people in Vermont for years and years of love and support.”

By the end of the night, Bernie had secured four out of 14 Super Tuesday states, including California, which holds the most delegates, and (unsurprisingly) Vermont. Though Bernie had hoped to win Texas at the time of his address, the key state was later won by Biden.