NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, February 18th, 2020

“Yuge” Bernie Sanders rally draws thousands of enthusiastic supporters to Tacoma Dome

On Mon­day night, Pres­i­dents Day 2020, over 17,000 Wash­ing­to­ni­ans packed the stands of the Taco­ma Dome to see and hear the man that they fer­vent­ly desire to be the next Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States: Sen­a­tor Bernie Sanders.

Bernie Sanders addressing a big crowd in Tacoma

Sen­a­tor Bernie Sanders speaks to a huge crowd inside the Taco­ma Dome on Mon­day, Feb­ru­ary 17th, 2020 (Pho­to: Ren­nie Sawade/NPI)

Three weeks ahead of the dead­line to return bal­lots in Wash­ing­ton State’s ground­break­ing pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry, the vol­un­teers and speak­ers at last night’s ral­ly set out their ambi­tion in clear terms: they want Sanders to not only win, but to dom­i­nate Wash­ing­ton on March 10th. As one cam­paign staffer put it, “Wash­ing­ton is Bernie coun­try now, and for the next eight years!”

The ros­ter of speak­ers lined up before Sanders him­self seemed designed to show the deep-root­ed left-wing pol­i­tics and pro­gres­sivism that exist in Cas­ca­dia.

After rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Pacif­ic North­west tribes extend­ed a wel­come and offered an open­ing prayer, and after Pacif­ic North­west rock band Por­tu­gal. The Man ener­gized the crowd with cov­ers of songs such as “Chil­dren of the Rev­o­lu­tion,” along with their own smash hit, “Feel It Still,” the first speak­er to take the stage as part of the main pro­gram was Seat­tle City Coun­cilmem­ber Kshama Sawant.

Sawant – a fire­brand leader of the Social­ist Alter­na­tive Par­ty who was re-elec­t­ed last Novem­ber after a slew of busi­ness inter­ests (most promi­nent­ly, Ama­zon) unsuc­cess­ful­ly spent mil­lions of dol­lars to try to unseat her – came to the event with an uncom­pro­mis­ing mes­sage for the pow­er­ful cor­po­rate and estab­lish­ment oppo­nents of the Sanders cam­paign: “When we fight, we win!”

Sawant’s speech was fol­lowed by one from her fel­low City Coun­cilmem­ber, Tere­sa Mosque­da. Mosque­da focused her speech on the aims of work­ing peo­ple in Wash­ing­ton. She lined out how Sanders’ plans – such as Medicare For All and reform­ing the state’s “upside down tax sys­tem” – will direct­ly help work­ers and argued that, as a work­ing mom, “I stand for him because he stands for us.”

Next to take the stage in the Taco­ma Dome was eigh­­teen-year old activist and co-founder of the cli­­mate-focused youth move­ment Zero Hour, Jamie Mar­golin.

Unsur­pris­ing­ly, Mar­golin focused on the threat of cli­mate dam­age and Bernie Sanders’ plan to tack­le the issue. In a pow­er­ful moment, the young woman spoke plain­ly: “If he were elect­ed pres­i­dent, I would feel safe for the first time in my life,” because, “Bernie Sanders is the cli­mate cham­pi­on my gen­er­a­tion needs.”

Mar­golin was fol­lowed by Tim Rob­bins, an Acad­e­my Award-win­n­ing actor, writer and direc­tor. Rob­bins is direct­ing a new play, ‘The New Colos­sus,’ which focus­es on the sto­ries of twelve refugees through­out his­to­ry.

Rob­bins told the crowd that sto­ries of refugees com­ing to the U.S., “remind me of the incred­i­ble heart that is in this coun­try,” and argued that Bernie Sanders would over­haul the bro­ken immi­gra­tion and asy­lum sys­tem – with the added ben­e­fit that he “can send Don­ald Trump to an ear­ly retire­ment in Mar-a-Lago.”

The last speak­er before Bernie Sanders was Prami­la Jaya­pal, the U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Washington’s Sev­enth Dis­trict, Chair of the House Pro­gres­sive Cau­cus, and Chair of Bernie’s 2020 cam­paign in Wash­ing­ton State.

Jaya­pal engaged with the crowd mas­ter­ful­ly, alter­nat­ing between encour­ag­ing chants and cheer­ing and prompt­ing to the crowd to lis­ten qui­et­ly as she deliv­ered her intro­duc­tion of Bernie Sanders. She reeled off a list of Sanders’ most impor­tant poli­cy direc­tions, ask­ing the crowd, “Is that rad­i­cal?”

She called for Trump’s down­fall, but remind­ed the crowd, “we’re not going to stop there, because Don­ald Trump is both a symp­tom and a cause.”

After Jaya­pal came the man every per­son in the sta­di­um had been wait­ing to see: Sen­a­tor Sanders him­self.

Bernie Sanders on the stump

Bernie Sanders deliv­ered a stump speech that name checked many of the forces aligned against his agen­da of Medicare For All, a Green New Deal, and tuition free col­lege (Pho­to: Ren­nie Sawade/NPI)

Sanders deliv­ered a sat­is­fy­ing stump speech that sound­ed famil­iar to reg­u­lar observers of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics – he attacked the cor­rup­tion and vicious­ness of Trump’s pres­i­den­cy, praised the impor­tance of the campaign’s record-break­ing grass­roots move­ment, and spent most of his speech focus­ing on the deep eco­nom­ic inequal­i­ties and injus­tices rife in the U.S.

He linked his pas­sion for tak­ing on cor­po­rate cor­rup­tion to many core Demo­c­ra­t­ic prin­ci­ples: tak­ing on racism, reform­ing immi­gra­tion, cod­i­fy­ing abor­tion rights into law, unit­ing the world to deal with cli­mate change, and end­ing the War on Drugs.

While the con­tent of the speech was famil­iar, the con­text of the ral­ly gave the mes­sage a high­­­ly-charged ener­gy and made his vision seem very much with­in reach. Sur­round­ed by thou­sands of ded­i­cat­ed believ­ers – and not forced to defend his social­ demo­c­ra­t­ic val­ues against rival pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates or a hos­tile media – Sanders was at ease, smil­ing and laugh­ing as his speech was inter­rupt­ed at times by the crowd chant­i­ng his name.

Sanders wrapped up his speech by remind­ing his “yuge” crowd of sup­port­ers that there were pow­er­ful inter­ests stacked against their move­ment.

He men­tioned Wall Street, the insur­ance indus­try, the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies, the mil­i­­tary-indus­tri­al com­plex, the prison-indus­tri­al com­plex, and the Demo­c­ra­t­ic estab­lish­ment as being among the campaign’s oppo­nents. How­ev­er, he argued that those inter­ests are get­ting decid­ed­ly ner­vous about his can­di­da­cy.

Despite being well aware of the forces aligned against him — and cit­ing many of them by name — Sanders end­ed his speech on a con­fi­dent note.

“We are the nine­­ty-nine per­cent, and the last time I heard, nine­­ty-nine per­cent is a hell of a larg­er num­ber than one per­cent! If we stand togeth­er and not allow Trump and his friends to divide us up…ain’t noth­ing gonna stop us!”

Bernie and Jane Sanders at the conclusion of Tacoma rally

Bernie and Jane Sanders acknowl­edge the 17,000+ sup­port­ers inside the Taco­ma Dome with fists clenched in sol­dar­i­ty (Pho­to: Ren­nie Sawade/NPI)

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3 Comments

  1. Thanks for this great report!

    # by Laura Kvasnosky :: February 18th, 2020 at 9:21 PM
  2. That’s not even close to 17K. 10K is push­ing cred­i­bil­i­ty.

    # by Eric Hartman :: February 19th, 2020 at 10:55 AM
    • You are incor­rect, Eric. The City of Taco­ma Fire Depart­men­t’s offi­cial ver­i­fied crowd count was 17,026. The ver­i­fi­er was Lieu­tenant Ken Hansen, Fire Inspec­tor.

      Our team was on site for the entire­ty of the ral­ly and we can attest to the 17,000 fig­ure. There were def­i­nite­ly at least that many peo­ple there.

      # by Andrew Villeneuve :: February 19th, 2020 at 11:06 AM

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