April 11, 2016
By Joe Maniscalco
Brooklyn, NY – Hillary Clinton’s much vaunted record and ability to “get things done” did not go over well on the Boardwalk in Coney Island this weekend — instead, those oft-spoken assertions sunk like stones amongst the sea of Bernie Sanders supporters who formed lines stretching from Stillwell Avenue to W. 16th Street waiting to see the presidential underdog on Sunday.
“Bernie has been in Congress way longer than Hillary and has more experience as an elected public official,” 20-year-old Kensington resident Patrick Gallen told LaborPress. “What experience does Clinton have? Killing innocent brown people? How many wars has she been a party to? How many insurgencies? She has experience? Yeah, she has experience doing exactly what we don’t want.”
Sanders was in Coney Island on Sunday to continue stumping through the state in advance of April 19’s New York Democratic Primary. The Vermont senator and former chair of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, continued to hammer against the “rigged economy” but also chided Clinton’s penchant for regime change abroad and warned against being “sucked into perpetual warfare in the Middle East.”
Brooklynite Josh Reisner, 36, wrote off Clinton as a “typical establishment candidate” hopelessly sealed off from ordinary workers like himself.
“I’m uninspired by Hillary,” Reisner said. “And, honestly, I don’t believe a word that comes out of her mouth. I see all of the money backing her. I even see all of the liberal press backing her, and that just makes me want to come out and support Bernie more. Maybe I’m watching too much Netflix, but every time I see “House of Cards,” I think of Hillary.”
In contrast to the skewering she received this weekend in Coney Island, Democratic Party power-brokers and their backers, continue to hold up Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state and U.S. senator as unassailable proof of her presidential bonafides.
“But that’s just not borne out by the record,” said Natalie James, a 35-year-old defense attorney originally from Florida. “Bernie has shown himself completely capable of forming coalitions with even Republicans, and those more right of his political ideology. He was a key figure in the veterans’ reform bill that recently came out. If you look at Hillary Clinton’s eight years in the Senate prior to becoming secretary of state, she authored only three bills that were just applicable to New York State and unanimously passed — completely inconsequential things. And beyond that, she was just a co-sponsor. So, it’s unclear how much she could actually get done.”
Internationally, James also denounced Clinton’s support of disastrous military actions in the Middle East, as well bloody political coupes in Latin America.
“I’m not impressed with her experience as secretary of state, nor in the senate,” James added.
Clinton’s resume also failed to move Joseph Garcia, a 26-year-old day trader from New Hampshire, who summed up Hillary’s political trajectory as cynically amassing all the necessary “checkmarks” needed to attain the White House.
“It’s just her version of political bantering,” Garcia said. “While Trump and Cruz have their boy game of trying to make each other appear less masculine, she’s doing it by saying, 'I have more checkboxes — everything for me lines up to be president.’ But if you would take all of her experience and what she’s done to try and get to this point, and compare it to somebody who works in an office building or at Burger King, you would call them a brown-noser — somebody who is just working for that obvious goal at the end. And not for us, not for anyone but herself.”
Emily Szpunt, a 27-year-old nanny from Brooklyn who once supported Clinton before becoming disillusioned, also dismissed the idea that Clinton’s record makes her preferable to Sanders.
“I don’t believe that at all,” Szpunt said. “I know she’s bought. I’ve seen her record. I’ve seen her say something and change her mind about it years later.”
Stella Szpunt, a guidance counselor with the New York City Department of Education, also expressed strong opposition to Hillary.
“I think we have to give someone else a chance like Bernie who’s really working for us — for the regular people,” she said. “I don’t like [Hillary]. I just don’t trust her. She talks out of both sides of her mouth. She says one thing and then gets donations from big corporations. No, she’s not for us.”
ESL teacher Lisa Miller expressed her opposition to Clinton saying, “Bernie’s been fighting for people his whole career, ever since he was a young man. He tells the truth. He’s not beholden to any of the big corporations. He’s an honest man and he’s what we’ve been longing for forever.”
Asked if she has any qualms about not supporting candidate who could be the first women ever elected president of the United States, Miller said, “Not one little bit.”
“I wouldn’t vote for her just because she’s a woman and I’m a woman,” Miller said. “I don’t go for that either — not in the least. I vote for who I think is correct. Gender has nothing to do with it.”
Stay at home mom Claudia Frade, 44, voted for Barack Obama twice — but said she has never experienced the kind of enthusiasm for a presidential candidate that she is feeling now.
“Even though [Hillary] was in the White House and in the Obama Administration, I’m still not convinced by her,” the Gravesend resident said. “To me, she’s not a trustworthy person. I believe in Bernie Sanders because he has a proven track record. With Hillary, I can’t see her making any kind of change at all. Bernie is funded by the people which is amazing. Bernie is the more trustworthy candidate.”
Some supporters also took issue with the persistent narrative that despite his impressive run of primary victories — eight in the last nine contests — Sanders somehow doesn’t resonate with people of color in the same way that Clinton does.
“As an African-American male, I want to say that’s untrue,” said Kaseim Tripp, 30. “I support Bernie Sanders and lots of my friends and family who are also minorities support Bernie Sanders. The Clinton machine has a lot of familiarity with minorities, so they have that advantage. But I believe that if Bernie’s message gets out to everyone, they’ll support him.”
Mental health counselor Kimberly Rosario, 28, also dismissed the idea that minority voters don’t support Sanders.
“[Bernie’s] fought for civil rights since he was very young,” Rosario said. “And he does have a great minority following. The media may not report that because they’re run by corporations — but he does have a great following, especially in the Hispanic community and in all ethnic communities. Young people, too, regardless of race or ethnicity are really on board.”
Jose Paguay, 21, had to drop out of York College after only a single semester because he couldn’t afford the tuition and now finds that his entire life has been put on hold. Sanders, however, has given him hope.
“It was $5,000 a semester,” Paguay said. “It sucks. I tried to work and go to school, but that was too much. Bernie is offering a platform for students like me who can’t really afford college to move forward.”
Gallen, an administrative staffer and student at the New School for Social Research in Manhattan, also bristled against another barb often launched against Sanders’ supporters.
“I’m not a naive college student,” Gallen added. “That’s another narrative coming from the media — that we want free stuff. I don’t want free stuff — I want equitable distribution of economic resources. But the Clinton campaign seems intent on tamping down people’s expectations.”