“A Future to Believe In:” The political rally experience

Senior Olivia Baird attended today's "A Future to Believe In" Bernie Sanders rally at the Kansas City Convention Center. She describes the day's events and experiences at the rally.

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“A Future to Believe In:” The political rally experience

Baird stands in the crowd after Sanders exits the stage.

Baird stands in the crowd after Sanders exits the stage.

Baird stands in the crowd after Sanders exits the stage.

Baird stands in the crowd after Sanders exits the stage.

Olivia Baird, Online Editor

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For those of you who don’t know me, I really like politics. With the presidential election coming up later this year, the excitement and hope political discussions leave me with is growing.

So, when I heard that a major candidate in the race – Bernie Sanders – was planning to make an appearance at the Kansas City Convention Center today, I jumped on the opportunity.

Rally attendees wait outside the Kansas City Convention Center before the doors open to let people in.

Olivia Baird
Rally attendees wait outside the Kansas City Convention Center before the doors open to let people in.

Before the doors even opened to let people into Bartle Hall’s security team, the streets of Kansas City were crawling with people wearing shirts and buttons that declared they were “feeling the Bern.” The sidewalks surrounding the convention center were packed with people, who were mainly either very young, elderly or middle-aged minorities – definitely a large amount of people that represented a population different from the typical demographic of red Kansas and Missouri.

We found a spot in line, and eventually were allowed into the hall of the event.

We waited about two hours for the rest of the attendees to pour into the large convention hall before Sanders came onstage. People occasionally began chanting, “Bernie, Bernie, Bernie,” and there was an overall sense of community to the whole thing. Compared to concerts I’ve been to that are just as crowded, there was a lot more shuffling around to accommodate those looking for people they knew in the crowd. Everyone was really friendly and excited to see Sanders.

The crowd surrounding the empty stage waits for Sanders to come onstage.

Olivia Baird
The crowd surrounding the empty stage waits for Sanders to come onstage.

After a few enthusiastic local campaign organizers rallied up the crowd, Sanders walked onto the stage in front of a sea of yelling people, clapping hands raised above their heads. Sanders immediately launched into his hour-long speech.

I’ve been following Sanders’ performances in debates pretty closely, and what I heard from him today is very similar to his performances against other democratic candidates, minus all the banter between candidates.

He spoke mainly on his ideals: things he wants to change and things he wants to get done. He touched on all the main topics voters want to hear about, like minimum wage, the cost of higher education, Planned Parenthood, campaign financing in big business, climate change and race relations. His main message surrounding all of this was what he used to sum up his speech: if he is elected, he plans to be a president that works for all.

Sanders speaks onstage at the Kansas City Convention Center.

Justin Lehtinen
Sanders speaks onstage at the Kansas City Convention Center.

I appreciated Sanders’ localizing national problems to this area. He referenced Governor Brownback’s education policies, the Koch brothers and midwestern concerns about eradicating pensions. It made his message more personal and meaningful to today’s audience.

Throughout all of this, it was very obvious how the crowd was feeling. When Sanders spoke of things he disagrees with, the crowd gave a resounding “boo.” When he spoke of his ideals and plans, the crowd roared with cheers and clapping. I was surprised by the overwhelming support of Sanders, especially considering the conservative political atmosphere in our state and those that surround it.

Sanders greets his supporters after the rally. He shook hands and signed autographs for about 15 minutes.

Olivia Baird
Sanders greets his supporters after the rally. He shook hands and signed autographs for about 15 minutes.

It was clear that Sanders achieved the desired purpose of this rally – everyone seemed to leave feeling more encouraged than when they came, more excited to vote and more excited about the future of this country.

I definitely already had an opinion on Sanders before the rally, but after, I left more confident and solidified in my thoughts on him as a candidate. I feel like I better understand the goals he has set for his campaign and this country after hearing him speak in person.

Whether you like a candidate that comes to town or not, it is a really cool experience to be surrounded by people who care so deeply about the future of this country. It was a great way for me to gather a holistic view of who Sanders is as a candidate and who he would be as president.

I know I’ll be at other political rallies in the future, whether they be during this election cycle or another one in the future.


 

I covered the rally on the BVNWnews Snapchat account as well. Add us on Snapchat (username bvnwnews) to view the story before 11 a.m. Feb. 25.