On March 25, 2016, in the midst of a heated battle for the Democratic Party’s Presidential nomination, Bernie Sanders showed up in Portland, Oregon to hold one of his signature rallies. Thousand upon thousands of supporters showed up, as always, to hear Senator Sanders talk about his key issues, such as the need to expand Medicare for all Americans. On this day, however, something happened in the middle of his speech that was quite remarkable. A little bird landed on Bernie’s podium, not more than three feet from the man himself. The bird stayed for a few short moments before flying away, but “Birdie Sanders,” as the little bird was soon named will probably never be forgotten by most people who supported Bernie Sanders in 2016.
According to the Guardian, Bernie Sanders quickly remarked that the bird was a sign.
“I think there may be some symbolism here,” Bernie said. “I know it doesn’t look like it, but that bird is really a dove asking for world peace.”
The occasion stands out as one of the most joyous moments in a campaign that was filled with positive vibes and the feeling that the impossible might be possible. For many Bernie Sanders supporters, Birdie Sanders became a symbol of hope and a suggestion that it was destiny that Bernie Sanders was going to win the Democratic nomination and after that the Presidency.
— SensesTaker (@stephnut22) March 25, 2017
A year later, those feelings are largely gone. We all know what happened in the interim. The Democratic Party establishment, not happy that a maverick outsider was potentially going to take the nomination away from their choice, Hillary Clinton, worked in ways to make it very difficult for Bernie Sanders to win, despite the fact that his candidacy was the one generating the most enthusiasm and grassroots support among people on the left, the center, and even some moderate conservatives. We know from the Podesta emails released by Wikileaks that high ranking DNC insiders worked against the Sanders campaign in favor of Clinton. For example, according to the Observer, DNC deputy communications director Mark Paustenbach wrote that the party should start pushing destructive narratives about Sanders.
“Wondering if there’s a good Bernie narrative for a story,” Paustenbach wrote. “Which is that Bernie never ever had his act together, that his campaign was a mess.”
There are countless examples of this type of behavior from the DNC. There’s also the fact that the vast majority of superdelegates gave Clinton an early advantage over Sanders that the media insisted on using when comparing electoral vote totals of Clinton and Sanders. Superdelegates are party insiders and politicians whose “votes” in the Democratic Party primary have more power than thousands and thousands of people who participated in a process that claims to be democratic. Many Sanders supporters saw it as nothing less than anti-democratic.
— Shreoshi B (@ShreoshiB) March 25, 2017
Birdie Sanders remains a bittersweet memory for many Sanders supporters. The 2016 election could very well have turned out differently had Birdie Sanders really been a harbinger of destiny and Sanders had won the nomination. Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump by a small number of votes in key swing states where working class voters were swayed by Donald Trump’s populist appeals. It’s conceivable that Sanders, another candidate with a populist message, and who routinely polls with higher favorability ratings than both Trump and Clinton, would have swept victory from Trump in states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.
On that point, we can only speculate. But on the anniversary of the day that the little birdie paid a visit to Bernie Sanders in Portland, it’s hard not to imagine what might have been.
[Featured Image by Natalie Behring/Getty Images]