Bernie Sanders could overtake Hillary Clinton in Iowa next week, and the tell-tale signs are mounting.
On Tuesday, he drew crowds totaling 20,000 people in St. Paul and Duluth, MN. During the Duluth event the crowd totaled nearly 6,000. In St. Paul River Center later Tuesday night, the number swelled to 14,000 in a standing-room-only event with an overflow crowd that took the number closer to 15,000.
At the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center Arena, Rep. Keith Ellison, one of Bernie Sanders’ earliest supporters, spoke to the enthusiastic crowd. He praised Sanders’ efforts to ensure equality for all Americans. He also appealed to those who still might doubt whether Bernie can beat Clinton.
Don’t say it can’t be done, because it already has begun.”
When Bernie Sanders spoke, he reiterated his campaign platform, which is based on making sweeping changes in how government serves the American people.
“It is not acceptable that the 20 wealthiest people in this country own more wealth than the bottom 50 percent of people.”
He spoke to a crowd dominated by young voters disillusioned with the current political system, along with some gray-haired supporters. He urged Americans to come together and not allow Republicans like Donald Trump to divide them in hatred.
“If we stand together, if we have a vision of what this country can become, there is nothing, nothing, nothing that we can’t accomplish.”
In St. Paul later that night, Bernie Sanders again spoke to the anger of voters and the need to change to a more equitable system of government. He decried how Wall Street’s greed is “destroying our economy” and criticized law enforcement agencies around the country for getting away with killing unarmed citizens with few, if any, consequences.
“When a police officer breaks the law, that officer must be held accountable.”
More than anything, Bernie Sanders’ honesty, consistency, and courage to stand up to the wealthy and powerful have won him the support of a wide range of voters.
Support From LGBT Activists
In the last week, Bernie Sanders has ridden a wave of new supporters and endorsements, with each one inching him closer to winning over critical groups like the LGBTQ, Hispanic, and black communities.
Tim Love and Larry Ysunza of Kentucky, the plaintiffs who took their battle for marriage equality to the Supreme Court, posted a message on their Facebook page on January 25. Together for more than 20 years, Tim and Larry had worked tirelessly as volunteers for Bill Clinton during his 1992 campaign. For their efforts, they were invited to his inauguration in January 1993. Despite their long-standing admiration for both Bill and Hillary Clinton, they explained why they had chosen to endorse Bernie Sanders.
“We first became aware of Senator Sanders in the mid-90s and have followed his career as well. He has been a courageous voice on social justice and economic issues for decades.””
The couple mentioned that they had been invited to attend an event in Iowa where the Human Rights Campaign endorsed Clinton. They declined.
“Although we do support the mission of the Human Rights Campaign, our long experience and our hearts lead us in another direction: we support Senator Bernie Sanders.”
Justin Bamberg’s Conversion
In South Carolina, Clinton’s “firewall” has begun to crack. South Carolina State Representative Justin Bamberg announced he was switching his endorsement from Clinton to Bernie Sanders. Not only is he a state representative, Bamberg is also the attorney who represented the family of Walter Scott, the African-American man who was killed by police officers last April.
Bamberg admitted that he had originally not given Bernie “a fair shake” but after learning more about him, he realized Sanders was the best candidate he could endorse. During an interview with the New York Times, Bamberg explained why Clinton had lost his support.
“Hillary Clinton is more a representation of the status quo…Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, is bold. He doesn’t think like everyone else. He is not afraid to call things as they are.”
Even Natalie Jackson, the attorney for slain teen Trayvon Martin’s family, has thrown her support behind Sanders. She is part of a growing group of African-American women supporting his campaign. Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, supports Clinton.
The new endorsements are important for the Sanders campaign, primarily because African-Americans (especially black women) vote in high numbers.
According to RealClearPolitics, Sanders has seen a steady rise in supporters in the Palmetto State since mid-November. Since then Clinton’s support has fallen from a high of 71 percentage points to 62.5. Sanders, conversely, has risen from 21.3 to 29.5 percent.
We Are All Connected
Sanders supporters don’t seem to care that he’s not religious, either. In recent interviews, Bernie has been open about the fact that he’s not religious. In the November issue of Rolling Stone magazine, Bernie explained his spiritual beliefs. Noting that while he does believe in God, he does not follow any organized religion. He emphasized instead the interconnectedness of people and the world.
“We are one world and one people. And that belief leads me to the conclusion that we just cannot turn our back on human suffering.”
Hemant Mehta, of the Friendly Atheist on Patheos, described Bernie’s spiritual views as one that was genuine and respectful of other people’s beliefs.
“Sure, he could have said religion shouldn’t matter when it comes to politics, but it does. That’s just the reality of it. People care. So a response that doesn’t belittle anyone’s beliefs, but instead points to what we all have in common, makes for a powerful answer.”
Qualified For The System We Need
Even Robert Reich, Bill Clinton’s former Secretary of Labor, and longtime ally of Hillary Clinton, has voiced his support for Bernie Sanders. In a blog post, he explained why the country needs Bernie Sanders.
“I’ve known Hillary Clinton since she was 19 years old, and have nothing but respect for her. In my view, she’s the most qualified candidate for president of the political system we now have.
“But Bernie Sanders is the most qualified candidate to create the political system we should have, because he’s leading a political movement for change.”
Reich also made a point about this election that cut to the heart of the matter.
“The upcoming election isn’t about detailed policy proposals. It’s about power – whether those who have it will keep it, or whether average Americans will get some as well.”
Jim Hightower, a longtime Bernie Sanders ally, has put his two cents in the Democratic primaries. In a blog post on Common Dreams, the progressive Texan described Sanders’ brand of democratic socialism as being “a feisty FDR populist, willing to take on the economic royalists.”
The large numbers of folks attending his rallies and the recent important endorsements Bernie Sanders has received could turn the tide against Hillary Clinton as the Iowa caucuses loom on the horizon.
[Featured Image: Jae C. Hong/AP]