The Wolverines Gather For Bernie: How Sanders Has Energized A Movement

With as many as ten thousand gathered at the University of Michigan for the rally leading into Tuesday’s key primary, the gathering was unmistakingly a Sanders rally. There were the “Eat the Rich” teeshirts and the “Make Fascists Afraid Again” signs.  One former Michigan students wore her handmade “Socialist Butterfly” jacket.  Popular lead singer James Grace sang of the “breaking the walls” and  the “American way . . . a burning crucifix and white supremacy.”   However, there was also something not in abundance at Biden rallies: youthful hope.  It was not just the overwhelmingly young audience, but also older voters who seemed to rekindle a passion left long behind by decades of political compromise and concessions.  This is no campaign. This is now a movement and that should worry the hell about the Democratic establishment.

After writing about attacks on Sanders and his “Bernie Bros” by Biden, various supporters suggested that I come to a rally and judge for myself. That opportunity arose on Sunday at Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Before the rally, I met with Arden Shapiro who would help introduce Sanders at the event.  She is the descendent of a Holocaust survivor from Hungary and that Sanders is the only genuine person running for change in society. She and Hazel Gordon, a trans gender Michigan student, viewed the other politicians, including Joe Biden, as all cut from the same corporate cloth and impediments to change.  While they said they would vote against Trump regardless of who is the nominee, it was not a commitment that many would make.

Both Arden and Hazel dismissed the allegations by Biden and said that it is ridiculous to hold any candidate responsible for every single supporter among millions. Arden and Hazel are credits to both the University of Michigan and the Sanders campaign. They see Sanders as a logical step to jolt the establishment and force real change.

Sanders has not found his element. He is the element for these supporters.  I met a young family from Michigan with a young child caring a sign for “Uncle Bernie.”  They simply said that they saw no choice but a radical change.  Like Arden and Hazel they saw people suffering from untreated conditions and locked in cycles of poverty.

However, there was a feeling of reality crashing in from all sides.  Everyone was talking about the full court press by virtually every establishment figure in Michigan to stop Sanders here, once and for all.  It has only deepened the view that “the establishment” arbitrarily used party identification but ultimately worked together against real change.

It was hard not to be elevate by the energy and hope that Sanders (and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez) released in this crowd.  In over 30 years as a professor, I have never seen students so enraged and excited.  Yet, one could not help but feel like a craven cynic at points as the rhetoric soared far beyond any plausible reality. It is not that Sanders cannot win the nomination.  He has gone further than anyone would have imagined for a lifelong Socialist with unbending principles.  However, Sanders himself at points fueled delusions of dynamic changes.  For example, he pledged that on the first day he would unilaterally legalize all marijuana in all fifty states.  Putting aside that this is precisely the type of executive abuse and circumvention of Congress that the Democrats that denounced by Trump, it is also not legally possible.  Even if Sanders could negate all of the federal drug laws, he cannot alone negate the drug laws of 50 states.  Pot may not be a federal crime but it would still be state crime unless Congress preempted all drug laws.  There is a great deal Sanders could do – just not that.  Such finer points were lost in the moment.  Sanders was selling a revolution and this was not the time to raise such points of law. It was like trying to tell Parisians that the backdoor of the Bastille was actually open when they were storming the walls.

That feeling deepened when Ocasio-Cortez reminded the crowd that Jesse Jackson (who endorsed Sanders that day) won the Michigan caucus in 1988.  However, omitted from the thrilling prospect of a progressive repeat was that Jackson crashed and lost on the first ballot to Michael Dukakis.  Yet, Ocasio-Cortez who fired up the crowd was making a secondary and more poignant point.  Jackson was crushed by a unified establishment that “panicked” after Michigan to stop him. She warned that the same forces were fielded against Sanders.  That point was echoed by Sanders himself who mocked Biden and his “billionaire backers.”  Make no mistake about it.  The open effort to stop Sanders has only reaffirmed the view of many of these voters that the Democratic establishment is not a solution to the problem. It is the problem.

The most important thing that Sanders has is what I found missing in some young Biden supporters: passion.  Not passion for the election. The two students that I spoke to were passionate about defeating Trump. They were just not that passionate about Biden who they described clinically as someone with the organization and broad appeal to win.  After the improvisational jazz of the Sanders students, it sounded like a Gregorian chant.

I left the rally with great affection for these Sanders supporters. We often talk about the need to get students involved. While I disagree with many of Sanders’ proposals, I have always respected him as an individual and agree with him that the establishment has proven either unwilling or incapable of addressing serious problems in our society. Watching this highly diverse crowd join together at this rally was a powerful experience to witness. You do not have to agree with Sanders to find these supporters rejuvenating and inspiring. They are exactly what the Democrats need but exactly what the party is alienating by this unified front against Sanders. As I recently wrote, the Sanders supporters are being treated like barbarians at the gate for the Democratic party. The problem is that they are increasing adopting the same view in their relation to the party.

Here are some of the pictures from the rally:

103 thoughts on “The Wolverines Gather For Bernie: How Sanders Has Energized A Movement”

  1. Bernie supporters only want to force their will upon you, not because they are intellectually or morally superior, but because you disagree with them. Authoritarians don’t care about you, whether they are right or wrong, they only want you to capitulate to their will.

  2. One way or another Hilary Clinton is on this ticket. Either a brokered convention picks her, or she is Bidens VP.

  3. Anonymous, maybe energy was the wrong word. A few college kids have energy, but they sure ain’t going to beat the DNC powers that be.

  4. Independent Bob — The DNC has clout and cash but I question “real energy”.

    — David B Benson

    1. Video at 12:10 AM, posted above:

      “Live in Detroit for a roundtable with public health leaders on coronavirus and what we must do to address it…”


      Bernie Sanders: “Trump says he has a “natural ability” to handle a viral outbreak. That’s outrageous. Our administration will listen to scientists.”

    2. If Bernie expects a free vaccine, then Bernie should work for free. His staffers should work for free. Everyone in his employ should work for free. Nothing is “free”. You pay a price no matter what, whether it’s called a “tax” or a “fee” or any other iteration of cost. The point is for that cost to be affordable, no matter what noun is used.

      Women were better off paying a $5 copay rather than a $1000 premium and $12,000 deductible for “free” birth control. Someone needs to learn how to do basic arithmetic.

      Novavax is working on a covid-19 vaccine, funded in part by the Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). This is a foundation that combines private philanthropy and public funds, internationally, for vaccine readiness to fight epidemics.

  5. If Bernie took every cent of Michael Bloomberg’s $60 billion dollars and divided it up among all US residents, each of person would get $183.00. That would be enough for each Michigan student to spend a day at Disneyworld ——— alone.

  6. Whew Doggie! Just scrolled through the pastures … I mean pictures … of the Bernie Bros and Bras. There is a reason we don’t take people seriously who dress and act like that. Maybe they’d do well to know that too. Passion makes you wear blue hair?

    1. at least we have hair, Michelin Man.

      Blue hair is to trendy as fat slobs are to defending their girth. Then again no one said you were intellectually honest nor circumspect in your hypocrisy

      cue the umbrage

      1. J. Peterson:

        it’s amazing how you are fascinated by the superficial. I suspect I’m take more seriously despite my girth than some middle schooler like you sporting your technicolor hair. But no matter, you prove my point about how the stupid (and those dressed as such) will never inherit the Earth. I think its a beatitude.
        Loving the new sock puppet.

  7. Seth Warner — One ought to know whats the economists write about deficits. I gather that such are not necessarily bad.

    — David B Benson

  8. Dear Professor:

    You said, “However, omitted from the thrilling prospect of a progressive repeat was that Jackson crashed and lost on the first ballot to Michael Dukakis.”

    My uncle said that you should be informed that Michael Dukakis prefers to be identified as either “Tank Commander Dukakis”, or “Panzerfuhrer Dukakis” for Europeans.

    I do not know what he means, but he is pretty smart about stuff like this. I am guessing Dukakis was a veteran or something.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    1. ‘Dukakis served out the remainder of his term as governor. He is today, by all accounts, content as a professor of political science at Northeastern University in Boston. He and his wife, Kitty, have eight grandchildren and recently celebrated their 50th anniversary. If he ever muses on the catastrophe of Sept. 13, 1988, he keeps his largely to himself.

      ‘“Should I have been in the tank?” he told U.S. News & World Report in 2008. “Probably not, in retrospect. But these days when people ask me, ‘Did you get here in a tank?’ I always respond by saying, ‘No, and I’ve never thrown up all over the Japanese prime minister’”—a jab at Bush, who did just that at a banquet in 1992. “But, you know, things happen.”’ -Politico

      Now, go back to your bunker, Ms. Fromm.

        1. Asked how he would handle the economic situation happening right now, today, he says he would raise taxes on billionaires. Then he talks about crumbling infrastructure. How many times has President Trump tried to reach out to Democrats to DO SOMETHING about infrastructure??? Democrats REFUSE to deal with Trump to solve the issue. The Democrats are the problem, not President Trump.

          One thing is crystal clear. Bernie Sanders would be a disastrous president.

          And even worse, we would have to listen to that ridiculous Bernie accent for four long years?? OMG, just no.

      1. Later when pressed again for an answer, he says he would “let the scientists take a hard look, but let’s not close the borders or restrict travel.” So he would just let travelers come pouring into the country from anywhere, including FROM CHINA where the virus came from??? Does he believe Trump was wrong to restrict travel from China early on to prevent the spread?? Does he actually believe Trump is NOT listening to the scientists?? OMG.

    1. Listen to Bernie’s answer on what he would do *differently* than Trump in handling coronavirus. Bernie says, “I would not be a president saying to the world, ‘I have a natural ability to understand the problem.’ You listen to the scientists. You don’t stay stupid things.” That was his answer. OMG.

      1. Yes, leftists and Democrats totally believe that governing consists mostly of making symbolic gestures and statements. It’s a form of escapism….do-nothingism….shirking of responsibility while posturing.

    2. Bernie is asked if he would close the border to prevent Coronavirus from further spreading.

      Sanders: “No.”

  9. Cheering, chanting and singing are the stuff of kindergartners. Sadly, Americans have lost the ability to intellectually evaluate the implications of their cheers, chants and songs. They sing “Alouette, gentille alouette” but don’t understand what it means. Just like the chant Feel the Bern … until they actually get burned.

  10. We Should Raise Taxes To Pay Current Debt. But Bernie’s Agenda Spikes Debt Insanely

    The United States is undertaxed in the sense that people want more government spending than they are willing to pay for with higher taxes. Here are the numbers. In 2019, federal taxes equaled 16 percent of the economy (gross domestic product), while spending was 21 percent. In cold cash, the deficit totaled nearly $1 trillion, or 5 percent of GDP.

    The argument — made by many Republicans — that the economy can’t tolerate higher taxes is overkill. It’s refuted by history. As a share of GDP, federal tax revenues have been higher in all but six years since 1990, according to the Office of Management and Budget. The Trump tax cut of 2017 sacrificed many billions of much-needed revenue.

    The truth is we need higher taxes as part of a political bargain to reduce and ultimately eliminate endless deficits, which pose long-term political and economic dangers. No deal is possible unless it includes a sizable contribution from new taxes. The trouble is that many Democrats view higher taxes as a vehicle to fund new social programs.

    The bruising primary fight for the Democratic presidential nomination has left two survivors: former vice president Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Both advocate agendas that would pay for new social programs with higher taxes, as did the other candidates.

    The amounts are dizzying. In a new study, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center (TPC) estimated that Biden’s proposed tax increases would raise $4 trillion over the next decade, which is a lot of money but not enough to cover $13 trillion in deficits projected by the Congressional Budget Office under existing programs for the same period.

    All this casts Biden as a big spender, but compared with Sanders, he’s a piker. Some weeks ago, I wrote a column estimating the costs of Sanders’s proposals, based mainly on the candidate’s own cost estimates. His plan includes free public college and cancellation of student debt; higher Social Security benefits; the Green New Deal proposal; Medicare-for-all; universal preschool. This list omits a job guarantee, because there are no reliable cost estimates.

    Still, the total cost came to a staggering $55 trillion over the next decade. The $55 trillion is so much money that it’s difficult to describe. If entirely covered by taxes, it would nearly double the existing level of taxes. If covered exclusively by borrowing, the federal debt held by the public, now $16.8 trillion, would roughly quadruple to $71.8 trillion.

    Edited From: “How Much Government Do We Want?” By Robert Samuelson

    The Washington Post, 3/8/20


      Bernie’s spending proposals are totally unrealistic. And this alone is one good reason Democrats don’t want Bernie as their nominee. Down-ballot candidates have no desire to spend the fall campaign explaining how Bernie’s math works.

  11. JT:

    “It was hard not to be elevate by the energy and hope that Sanders (and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez) released in this crowd. In over 30 years as a professor, I have never seen students so enraged and excited. Yet, one could not help but feel like a craven cynic at points as the rhetoric soared far beyond any plausible reality. ”
    Bernie is a contradiction in terms millionaire socialist with pie-in-the-sky plans and no viable way to pay for them. He’s a hypocrite who’d rather fly privately than be squashed in with the rabble on commercial flights all the while castigating us for our “carbon-foot print.” He’s suppress our speech, confiscate our guns and impose an American destined for a Venezuela-style outcome.

    Your gushing approval of the two Bernie Bras, reminded me of a review of the Beetles’ Helter Skelter album by none other than Paul himself:

    𝘚𝘱𝘦𝘢𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘰𝘧 “𝘏𝘦𝘭𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘚𝘬𝘦𝘭𝘵𝘦𝘳”, 𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘢𝘪𝘥: “𝘜𝘮𝘮, 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘤𝘢𝘮𝘦 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵 ‘𝘤𝘢𝘶𝘴𝘦 𝘐’𝘥 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘥 𝘢 𝘳𝘦𝘷𝘪𝘦𝘸 𝘰𝘧 𝘢 𝘳𝘦𝘤𝘰𝘳𝘥 𝘸𝘩𝘪𝘤𝘩 𝘴𝘢𝘪𝘥, ‘𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘨𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘱 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘨𝘰𝘵 𝘶𝘴 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘥, 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦’𝘴 𝘦𝘤𝘩𝘰 𝘰𝘯 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺’𝘳𝘦 𝘴𝘤𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘥𝘴 𝘰𝘧𝘧.’ 𝘈𝘯𝘥 𝘐 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘳𝘦𝘮𝘦𝘮𝘣𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨, ‘𝘖𝘩, 𝘪𝘵’𝘥 𝘣𝘦 𝘨𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘥𝘰 𝘰𝘯𝘦. 𝘗𝘪𝘵𝘺 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺’𝘷𝘦 𝘥𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘪𝘵. 𝘔𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘣𝘦 𝘨𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵 – 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘴𝘤𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘳𝘦𝘤𝘰𝘳𝘥.’ 𝘈𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘐 𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘳𝘦𝘤𝘰𝘳𝘥 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘪𝘵 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘲𝘶𝘪𝘵𝘦 𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘪𝘵 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺 𝘴𝘰𝘳𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘴𝘰𝘱𝘩𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘥. 𝘐𝘵 𝘸𝘢𝘴𝘯’𝘵 𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘴𝘤𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘢𝘱𝘦 𝘦𝘤𝘩𝘰 𝘢𝘵 𝘢𝘭𝘭. 𝘚𝘰 𝘐 𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩𝘵, ‘𝘖𝘩 𝘸𝘦𝘭𝘭, 𝘸𝘦’𝘭𝘭 𝘥𝘰 𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵, 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘯.’ 𝘈𝘯𝘥 𝘐 𝘩𝘢𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘴𝘰𝘯𝘨 𝘤𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘥 ‘𝘏𝘦𝘭𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘚𝘬𝘦𝘭𝘵𝘦𝘳,’ 𝘸𝘩𝘪𝘤𝘩 𝘪𝘴 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘢 𝘳𝘪𝘥𝘪𝘤𝘶𝘭𝘰𝘶𝘴 𝘴𝘰𝘯𝘨. 𝘚𝘰 𝘸𝘦 𝘥𝘪𝘥 𝘪𝘵 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵, ‘𝘤𝘰𝘴 𝘐 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘯𝘰𝘪𝘴𝘦.

    As for the craven-cynic feeling, that’s when your Left Brain kicked on.

    1. There are 18.6mn Millionaires in the US. About 6% of the population. Pretty much anyone who had a job with benefits is a millionaire now if they lived on the East or West Coast because of home price appreciation. Those “pie-in-the-sky” plans are common in pretty much every industrialized country. They all pay for them just fine despite being less wealthy than the US. Is that really what “pie-in-the-sky” means?

      1. Not so wild about Harry:
        “Those “pie-in-the-sky” plans are common in pretty much every industrialized country.”
        Now you’re just making stuff up. The Green New Deal and Medicare for all would take twice the national budget alone. (80 trillion) And no other countries don’t and can’t do that.

  12. One word describes the Democratic Party right now: Confusion. The Democrat party is divided and doesn’t know it wants. Bernie represents the far left socialist segment and then we have old and confused, corrupt, inept Joe Biden supposedly representing the moderates. There is non-agreement among the ranks in the Democrat party and a house divided against itself, falls. Right now the Democrat party is the party of fear, hatred, anger, rage, and confusion.

  13. The Bernie Sanders – Joe Biden debate will be a blast to watch.

    Ready the memes!


    We cannot just re-elect— win this re-election,” Biden said in St. Louis. “Excuse me. We can only re-elect Donald Trump.”

  14. Ring! Ring!
    Hello Mommy.
    I’m a Commie!
    I live in Chi Town ..
    Near Mitt Romney.
    You remember Ernest Fleming?
    He got tomine after dinner.

    Hello mudder, hello fader…
    Here I am in camp Bernie!

  15. “Both Arden and Hazel dismissed the allegations by Biden and said that it is ridiculous to hold any candidate responsible for every single supporter among millions. “

    Not only that, but Joe Biden’s on record as praising antifa, who make Bernie Bros seem kind and gentle, and whom Biden refused to repudiate even after the Portand antifa put journalist Andy Ngo in the hospital.

    “Make no mistake about it. The open effort to stop Sanders has only reaffirmed the view of many of these voters that the Democratic establishment is not a solution to the problem. It is the problem.”

    Not quite accurate. That should read “…the Democratic party is not a solution to the problem. It is the problem.”

    Since the last Presidential election the Democratic Party leadership has openly embraced violence and forceful harassment against The Other. Joe Biden’s still on record as praising antifa. Maxine Waters is still on record as telling Democrats to publicly and loudly shame those among the Other who dare show themselves in public. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi warns “…if there is some collateral damage for some others who do not share our view, well, so be it, but it shouldn’t be our original purpose”.

    It’s as though the Democratic establishment took a hard look at Bernie Sanders and his followers and said “Screw it. Let’s go medieval on everyone else – Trump, Sanders and his people – everyone.”

    1. Last sentence should have read “It’s as though the Democratic establishment took a hard look at everyone who wasn’t them and said “Screw it. Let’s go medieval on everyone else – Trump, Sanders and hie people, the Supreme Court conservatives and libertarians – everyone.”

      The reply ought to be “Gee, fellas. That sounds an awful lot like “conspiring to overthrow the government of the United States of America.” The Democrats have wasted most of Trump’s first term trying to retire him or make him unpalatable to the voters. All they’ve really achieved is to make themselves look controlling and inimical to the entire concept of “peaceful transfer of power”. The last folks you ever want to had control over the executive branch. Like they all got Hillary Rodhan Clinton makeovers.

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