San Diego Feels the Bern
By Alexandra Mendoza
Campaign events such as the one hosted this week at the San Diego Convention Center are seldom seen.
The day was just beginning, and Bernie Sanders supporters were already lining up outside the building to listen to the words of the man seeking the Democratic ticket to the White House.
His presentation was not all that was happening that day.
Hours before his speech, dozens of followers took to the streets in downtown San Diego to express their support. Meanwhile, about fifteen miles south on Mexican soil, a group of deported mothers and veterans were also gathering at the San Ysidro Port of Entry to show their support for the Vermont Senator.
Outside the Convention Center, the lines extended as far as the eye could see. There were so many people there that a spillover room had to be opened for those who could not get a place in the main room.
Several media outlets estimated the attendance, mostly made up of Millenials, at around 10,000. There are some who estimate an even higher attendance.
“You are here because you are talking amongst yourselves, not because you are being encouraged by the DNC [the Democratic National Committee], not because you are being encouraged by the media, but because you are talking to each other,” said actress and activist Rosario Dawson, who was there to introduce Sanders.
In the audience were Veterans rights groups, Latino groups, and an overwhelming number of young people.
“I think it’s time that we have a president who speaks with the truth and looks after [the interests] of Latinos,” shared 26-year-old Escondido resident Manuel Gutierrez.
Not even the giant screen announcing Hillary Clinton’s victory in the Arizona primaries could dampen the euphoria building inside the Convention Center, which only grew louder as soon as Bernie Sanders took the stage.
During his speech, the 74-year-old candidate reiterated what has been his main campaign theme, expressing his opposition to the millions of dollars that some corporations inject into political campaigns.
Sanders also spoke about his strategy to combat climate change, putting an end to the militarization of law enforcement agencies, providing healthcare for all, and eliminating tuition at public universities.
Sanders showed his support of the Latino community, and stressed the need to achieve an immigration reform that enables the majority of the 11 million undocumented aliens living in the U.S. to come out of the shadows.
“We will be by the side of our Latino brothers and sisters,” stated Sanders, which was answered by the crowd’s chanting ¡sí se puede! (Yes, we can!).
“Our immigration policy will do what all immigration policies ought to do, which is to unify families, not separate them,” he added.
The Democratic hopeful called it “unacceptable” for candidates such as Republican Donald Trump to “insult Latino and Mexican brothers and sisters.”
“In the year 2016, Presidential candidates should not be appealing to hate and intolerance.”
Sanders closed out Tuesday night with two more victories, in Utah and Idaho, which held their caucuses that day.
Although the Senator is still trailing Hillary Clinton in number of delegates, Sanders made it clear that the California primaries, slated for June 7th, could be key in the Democratic process.
“California, the largest state of our nation, will play an important role in our bet to move this country forward,” he expressed.
“If participation is high, we will win California.”