Bernie Sanders Turns Out Younger Crowd in St. Louis

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Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke to a packed house in St. Louis. - THEO WELLING
  • THEO WELLING
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke to a packed house in St. Louis.

Standing in front of the crowd of thousands at Stifel Theatre, Senator Bernie Sanders asked the crowd an important question.

"Is it 'Missouri' or 'Missour-ah?'"



The crowd responded firmly with the correct answer of "Missouri."

Sanders stopped in St. Louis this morning for a campaign rally, a day ahead of the state's Democratic primary. Outside of the theater, the lines wrapped around the block to get in. People poured into the event as the hours passed. Nearly every seat in Stifel was filled. No protestors were standing on corners, just street vendors selling buttons and hoodies.



In comparison to his rival former Vice President Joe Biden, Sanders drew a much younger crowd. Many attendees were voting in their first or second election. At the Biden rally on Saturday morning, high school students seemed to be the minority. At Stifel, it seemed the roles reversed.

There was wide-ranging diversity as people from all races and ethnicities found their seats. Even the volunteers followed the pattern of diversity in age and race.
 
Starkly contrasting the rest of the crowd was Martha West. At 87 years old, West came out to hear the issues. She has yet to commit to a candidate this election but has had her fair share of civic duty.

"I was an Obama delegate, a Jesse Jackson delegate, a Clinton delegate," West listed. "I've always remained educated because of one thing."

At that point, West motioned to her "Black Votes Matter" button. She tapped her foot along to the music and waited for Sanders to take the stage.

Carson Willis, a 21-year-old Saint Louis University student, sat a few aisles up from West. Willis and his friend were there to show their support for Sanders and the change he promotes.

"I don't benefit at all from Sanders' policies, except maybe 'Medicare for all,'" Willis said. "With my vote, I just want to help people that need it more than I do."

According to Sabra Teel, 22, she is one of the individuals that Sanders' policies would help. Teel is an LGBT woman who will be a mom at the end of this year. For her, Sanders' consistent record with his fight for LGBTQIA+ individuals and environmental policies is key. She trusts him to make a lasting impact on health care and climate change.

"I want my child to have a planet to grow up on, and I want that for myself as well," Teel said. "I trust [Sanders] to protect my rights and my child's rights."

When the senator arrived on stage around 11:30 a.m., people in the crowd got to their feet and formed a wave of blue "Bernie 2020" signs. Sanders opened his speech with a quote from Nelson Mandela: "It always seems impossible until it is done."

The Democratic nominee hopeful spoke about several of his ideas, totaling about 40 minutes. Often, the senator would stop and ask, "Is that such a radical idea?"

Sanders talked about wealth inequality, Ferguson and St. Louis' history of racism, education, health care and climate change. He also talked about how he would issue an executive order to legalize marijuana nationwide and work to expunge the records of those who had marijuana-related charges.

Many times, Sanders was met with a standing ovation. His first of the afternoon came he spoke about abortion rights. The crowd broke into a chant of "Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!" when the candidate talked of electability and questioned who the better candidate to beat President Trump was.

"We are creating a movement," Sanders said. "We are going to transform this country."

On stage, Sanders was endorsed by a parade of St. Louis progressives, including city Treasurer Tishaura Jones, state Rep. Rasheen Aldridge, city Alderwoman Megan Green, Congressional candidate Cori Bush and Sara Katz of the WashU Undergraduate and Graduate Workers Union. 

Aldridge spoke of Sanders' consistency and fight for working people.

"Let's elect someone who is for the 99 percent, not the 1 percent," Aldridge said. He then ended with Sanders' campaign slogan: "Not me. Us."

This was Jones' first public endorsement of Sanders.

"Tomorrow is my birthday," she said. "And for my birthday, I want Bernie Sanders to win Missouri."

Bush, who has been endorsed by Sanders in the past, introduced the senator from Vermont to the St. Louis crowd. She pushed people to get out and vote tomorrow and to bring others to the polls with them.

"This is our moment," Bush told the crowd. "We didn't know we were making history on the streets of Ferguson. You do not know you're in a history-making moment until you are in it. This is a history-making moment."

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