Baltimore feeling the Bern - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Baltimore feeling the Bern

Thousands of enthusiastic supporters gathered inside Baltimore’s Royal Farms Arena on Saturday to hear Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders blast Wall Street.

Before the doors were opened lines outside stretched four blocks, with supporters waiting more than an hour in the rain.

Lines ran four blocks

Lines ran four blocks

Upon entry all visitors were required to empty their pockets and pass through a security checkpoint administered by city police and Secret Service agents. Agents also patrolled the arena and guarded the stage where Sanders would later speak.

The Vermont senator is here ahead of Maryland’s presidential primary Tuesday and recent polls suggest Sanders is trailing front-runner Hillary Clinton by about 20 percentage points.

Sanders was introduced by a myriad of supporters that included Hollywood superstar Danny Glover and former NAACP president Ben Jealous.

Glover said Sanders is the only candidate willing to take on the status quo and suggested the Vermont senator is continuing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s struggle for racial equality and social justice. Toward the end of his remarks, Glover incorrectly stated that Maryland had seceded from the union during the Civil War.

Jealous said the Democratic Party should unite behind Sanders because polls indicate he would defeat Republican front-runner Donald Trump in a landslide.

As Sanders prepared to take the stage, the audience screamed and shouted, “Bernie, Bernie, Bernie!”

Sanders turned to his stump speech.

“What this campaign is about is demanding that our country have the courage to address issues that the establishment would prefer that we sweep under the rug,” Sanders said.

Most prominent among those issues is income inequality and Sanders dismissed critics who insist that the problem is too big to tackle.

“I want to start off by telling you what maybe some of you don’t know and that is that this nation today is not a poor country, we are the wealthiest country in the history of the world,” Sanders said. “And what that means is, that when people say we cannot accomplish this, we can’t do that, they are not telling the truth.”

Sanders said the primary reason many Americans do not realize they are living in the wealthiest country in the world is because the top one percent of income earners are essentially the sole beneficiaries, and that if elected, he would strive to create a more level playing field. Sanders subsequently proceeded to indict the status quo even further.

“We have a corrupt campaign finance system that allows billionaires to buy elections, Sanders said.” We have a rigged economy in which ordinary Americans are working longer hours for lower wages, while almost all new income and wealth goes to the people on top. We have a broken criminal justice system, which has more people in jail than any other country on earth.”

Sanders addressed local inequities as well.

“Where in Baltimore, Maryland, in the richest country in the history of the world, one out of every four people lives in poverty,” Sanders said. “Where 80 percent of the children in Baltimore’s public school system are poor enough to qualify for free or reduced priced school lunch.”

Sanders also contrasted several of his issue positions with that of Democratic front-runner Clinton.

On raising the minimum wage, Sanders said he would push for a $15 federal minimum whereas Clinton would only commit to $12.

On campaign finance, Sanders criticized Clinton for raising large sums of money from Wall Street investment firms and boasted that he had raised the bulk of his funds from ordinary Americans who contributed an average of $27.

On foreign policy, Sanders said he would not be as hawkish as Clinton and criticized her for initially supporting the Iraq War.

On protecting the environment, Sanders said he would phase out fracking to ensure clean drinking water and pointed out that Clinton, while Secretary of State, had encouraged other countries to engage in fracking.

Prior to the event, Baltimore Post-Examiner spoke with Sanders’ supporters.

Sam Norwood, 19, of Austin, Texas, who is a chemical engineering major at Johns Hopkins University, called Sanders the real deal.

“He’s honest; he’s talking about issues people haven’t been addressing in my lifetime,” Norwood said and subsequently cited income inequality as a primary example.

Louis Garcia (right) Cecilia Lane (middle) Macey (left)

Louis Garcia (right) Cecilia Lane (middle) Macey (left)

Cecilia Lane, 37, and Louis Garcia 51, are Ellicott City residents and also enthusiastic Sanders’ supporters. Their daughter, Macey, who is 13, attended as well.

Lane, an environmental scientist, said Sanders emphasis on investing in economic infrastructure projects such as free college education are partially what motivated her to support the Vermont senator.

Lane also said she is appreciative that Sanders “doesn’t’ support drone warfare,” and “doesn’t support the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement,” which Sanders blames for jobs ending up overseas.

Garcia, who is a video producer, said Sanders’s views closely align with his own.

“I’ve always been in agreement with most of his policies,” Garcia said and added that Sanders “speaks for Americans who can’t speak for themselves right now.”

Marc Daniels, 60, of Springfield, Illinois, said he is still uncertain whether to support Sanders, but passed out yarmulkes promoting the candidate.

Daniels explained  he would support Sanders if the candidate made an effort to better “recognize his Jewish roots,” and subsequently added, “before we talk about economic revolution, we have to talk about spiritual evolution.”

Marc Daniels

Marc Daniels























About the author

Bryan Renbaum

Bryan is a reporter and political columnist with Baltimore Post-Examiner and has broken multiple stories involving athletic scandals. He has been interviewed by ABC's Good Morning America as well as Baltimore area radio stations. Bryan has both covered and worked in the Maryland General Assembly and is extremely knowledgeable of politics, voting patterns and American history. In addition to his regular duties, Bryan freelances for several publications and performs investigative research. He has a B.A. in Political Science. Contact the author.

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