BROOKLYN, NY – It appears that The Bern has gotten a heavy dose of aloe. The Bernie Sanders 2020 campaign is scratching it’s head after only six people attended a campaign kickoff rally for the presidential hopeful at Brooklyn College on Saturday.
According to the Sanders Campaign deputy press secretary Belén Sisa, turnout was expected to be much higher. “We were hoping for 10,000 maybe 12,000 people, but this falls way below expectations”, commented Sisa. “Maybe it was the cold and snow, I don’t know. I double checked to make sure we advertised the right date, time, and location and everything was correct in all the emails we sent out. I wish I had a better explanation”.
Even among the few who did attend, enthusiasm was markedly dim. “I was all in for Bernie in the last election,” said Chad Adams, a rally attendee and sophomore at Brooklyn College. “I was too young to vote in 2016, so I was excited to finally get the opportunity to be part of a grass roots movement, but he’s been going on for 45 minutes and he hasn’t even mentioned reparations yet”.
When asked why he thought enthusiasm had waned amongst Sanders supporters, Adams added “this stuff comes out, like he has a vacation home, makes all this money, flies in private planes, and people start to see that maybe his message is all a lie. He got my $27 when he announced, but he probably spent it on that expensive jacket he’s wearing”.
Sanders generated wild enthusiasm during the 2016 primary race against former Secretary of State and eventual nominee Hillary Clinton, often filling arenas to capacity with enthusiastic Berners, mostly young and white. After the Democratic National Convention, his supporters were quick to pledge allegiance to Mrs. Clinton, who eventually lost the presidency to television personality Donald Trump.
“Bernie said some good things in 2016”, said former Sanders supporter Mark O’Halloran, when reached by phone, adding “but now I’ve got my degree, a pretty good job and healthcare provided through work, so his message doesn’t really resonate with me any more.” When asked who he would support in the 2020 race, O’Halloran said “I think we need a centrist, someone of color or a woman. Klobuchar is looking pretty good, and Cory Booker is saying some good stuff”.
Another former Sanders Supporter, television and film actor Danny Devito, responded by email that “it was nice to think big and bold in 2016, but elections aren’t won on policy. People want someone to beat Trump, so that’s why I’m supporting Beto O’Rourke. That guy used to be in a punk band, how cool is that?”
Another attendee did stay for the entirety of the rally, Susan Myers, a Brooklyn-based visual artist. “I came early because I thought it’d be hard getting in, but when I reached the gate, it was just empty. Then he started talking about his childhood and all that, was looking me right in the eyes. I tried to leave, but I felt pretty guilty, so I stayed, but I honestly thought there were more people into the idea of Medicare for all and tuition-free college. I guess I was wrong”.
Also absent from the rally were members of the press, but we did find one independent journalist, Jordan Cheriton, of The Status Coup. “I came with the intention of interviewing Bernie supporters while they waited in line, and I’m shocked that no one showed up. I guess the mainstream media was right when they said people were no longer feeling the Bern“.
Sisa acknowledged that it can take time for a campaign to get off the ground, but had higher expectations as this is Sander’s second foray into a presidential race. “In 2016, Bernie started as a relatively unknown candidate, but this time we figured he had the name recognition and a strong base of supporters ready to work with us. Now we have Kamala [Harris] launching her campaign with 20,000 people there, and it’s clear where Senator Sander’s base of support has gone. If Biden enters this thing, that’ll pretty much be the nail in the coffin”.