Smiles, shouts, waves, honks, and a lot of signs were all part of the two-hour rally for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Saturday.
A few dozen Sanders acolytes rallied and stumped for the underdog United States senator from Vermont. It was the second such rally held at the well-trafficked intersection of Bayview Road and Highway 525, and organizers said it had similar support. The crowd was a mix of young and old, with a strong South Whidbey presence.
“There are some longtime political activists, and then there are some people like me who never get involved,” said Penny Clayton of Freeland, one of the event’s organizers and a major Sanders supporter on Whidbey Island.
Clayton touted Sanders’ positions about countering climate change, repealing the Citizens United decision, and improving the national minimum wage as major reasons for her newfound political activism.
The South Whidbey for Bernie Sanders group has also promoted voter registration and caucus information in Island County. Both of which were offered at the Bayview park and ride lot, with a business card for the caucuses and signup sheets for voter registration available.
Die-hard Sanders supporter and Langley resident Diane Driver wore a “Bernie 2016” shirt and hat, a pin that depicted a silhouette of Sanders’ unkempt hair and glasses with “Not for sale” on it, and waved a “Billionaires can’t buy Bernie” sign. A longtime Democrat, Driver said she supported Sanders over Clinton, despite having backed Clinton in 2008 when she lost the party’s nomination to Barack Obama. She was frustrated with politicians making campaign promises, then doing otherwise once elected in office. Sanders’ record in the U.S. Senate proved he would do what he promised.
“I am in this personally, I mean I’ve never worked this hard for a candidate,” she said. “I want to fight for my principles this time.”
Across the corner, a trio of supporters waved signs and hollered at drivers as they passed by. In their second Sanders rally, the stakes were higher after a couple of disappointing performances at the Iowa and Nevada primaries — for both parties, said Paul Thompson.
“I’m here because I want to make America great again,” he laughed, mimicking Republican candidate Donald Trump’s slogan.
Sanders’ appeal was his unpolished presence for supporter Elaine Bailey.
“He’s not the slick politician that we’re used to,” she said. “It’s about time.”
The Bernie rally followed after a longtime liberal peace vigil held at the corner.