In the wake of Bernie Sanders’ narrow win in a big field of candidates in New Hampshire’s Democratic Primary, blogger Laurie Dobson recalls some of the Sanders backers she met covering the campaign in the state.
By Laurie Dobson
Manchester — As the polls are closing in NH, I am remembering the Bernie people. The unremarkable, everyday kind. I met them at the Sanders rallies and events in the three days leading up to Primary Day, February 11. They have made a lasting positive impression on me.
If polls and commentators are to be believed, Sanders has a wild group of anarchists who are set to take down the country. This was not the case in my experience, having travelled to six towns and ten events.
Michelle Cole and her teenage daughter Allison and younger son Ryan, were at an event in Salem, NH at Coffee Coffee, a place that features the ‘Sanders Presidential Blend Coffee’ (Jamaican Blue Mountain, not cheap!). They packed into the coffee house along with 367 others, because Michelle wanted to see her candidate being consistent.
The fact that Michelle has heard Sanders say the same things, to the point where she can memorize them, is a comfort, because “they are the things that matter to people.” Ryan said he knew what Sanders says because of so much on the TV.
A postal worker told me he was for Sanders when he saw my button; he was not impressed with other candidates and their actions in recent days. He thought that NH residents were not credited with having brains and able to make their own minds up.
A couple with Sanders t-shirts had travelled to Florida to attend the Bernie rally at UNH Wildcat’s Whittemore Arena in Durham NH, the night before the election. They, and over 7500 people (7562 to be exact, according to a University spokesperson), were among the largest event ever held at the Arena. They came to hear Bernie and his messages of hope.
A mother, Alisha LaFosse, travelled from Bath, Maine with her two teenage daughters. Her concern, as a fourth grade teacher was the need for educators to be valued and enabled.
It was remarkable that there were so many normal looking middle class people at these Sanders offices, rallies and Get Out The Vote(GOTV) Centers. They brought their children. At the Arena, a special area held seating for many senior citizens and special needs people.
A friendly group of self-identified anarchists talked to me; the impression I got was that they were just earnest young people, who are looking for a better deal, the same yearning of those throughout the ages. I want their idealism to be rewarded. They have a government that does not work for them and they want it to, they told me.
Among the press pool, I spied John Nichols of The Nation, and we talked about old times when we were involved in the original impeachment effort. We discussed the Klobuchar bump that was being given her in the media. I had attended the set of Morning Joe, when Klobuchar was given the royal hoist and Biden was talked down by every commentator, and treated like a ‘has-been’.
It struck me that Amy attended this talk show on MSNBC, the day before the Primary and yet was focused only on the circle of commentators, although a group of over 100 audience members were there in the room, completely neglected. They (we) watched them talk to each other for three hours in the front of the room.
Not once were these mostly NH voters paid attention to, and Amy never turned around to look at them or ask their opinion, or even shake hands. Another guest that day, Candidate Michael Bennet, was there, and he pressed the flesh, which was well received by people in the room. There was a palpable feeling of let-down after three hours being ignored by the talking heads. There was even talk by one pundit who said there would be ‘better’ results down South. This was insulting to the voters who had not even indicated their preference but were smeared for living in a state with a lot of Sanders support.
One woman was asked on air, and answered why she decided on Sanders; she said it was because there was so much spin against Sanders by MSNBC. She credited the new show’s anti-Sanders focus for turning her off on them, not Sanders.
It seemed that there would be a backlash among those who were in the room where the program was taped, because Sanders supporters where strongly cautioned to be quiet.
One guest, a former Mayor from Biddeford, Maine, called over to Ari and shook his hand. Another woman told him that they felt that the commentators were talking AT them but not WITH them, as if they were afraid of the raw opinions of the people.
Much was made of the fear that there has to be a candidate to beat Trump, but nobody talked about what the polls say about who is best at beating him. Currently the polls say it is Sanders.
At the MSNBC Primary Room where they try to control and replay the results, I overheard a gentleman making the case that there was fear that Trump would win and ‘anyone was better’.
Sanders said to a reporter in Hudson, NH, that he doesn’t pay attention to the polls. His people seem unconcerned as well, because it is the message that matters to him, and to them.
Bernie is someone that they feel can change the country, and although this is the perennial primary pledge of candidates, he is believed. That is the firm and fervent passion I heard, and what comes next is not as critical as working to elect a candidate who intends to deliver on his promises. That’s their story and they’re sticking to it!