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)

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

    1. 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.

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