April 18, 2016
By Joe Maniscalco
Brooklyn, NY – More than 28,000 working class people fed up politics as usual filled Prospect Park on Sunday for the largest ever campaign rally for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
With the all-important New York State Democratic Primary fast approaching on Tuesday, April 19, Sanders supporters expressed their support for the Brooklyn-born senator from Vermont as a genuine voice for the working class — while dismissing the entrenched political support for rival Hillary Clinton.
“Establishment candidates have met their match in Bernie Sanders,” 35-year-old computer technician Jonathan Lancelot told LaborPress. “There is a collective consciousness that knows there is something wrong with our political system. Now is the perfect time for everyone to come out and vote.”
Sanders has huge momentum going into Tuesday’s New York Democratic Primary having bested Clinton in eight out of the nine prior races. This week, Seth Abramson writing for the Huffington Post, put Clinton’s delegate lead over Sanders at a mere 194 with 1,674 pledged delegates still to be determined.
“I don’t know why some unions would support Hillary because Bernie definitely stands stronger with the unions,” 39-year-old web developer Ryan Holmes said. “It makes me feel like they’re betraying the members of the union. If they’re voting for the best thing for the union — it would be Bernie Sanders.”
Prior to Sunday afternoon’s rally in Prospect Park, Sanders toured the Howard Houses in Brownsville with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and City Councilman Jumaane Williams [D-45th District]. Sanders recently released his plan to boost affordable housing across the U.S. and create millions of good-paying jobs by expanding the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Legislation he originally authored in 2001 that aims to repair public housing, increase funding for housing vouchers and making it easier to refinance mortgages.
“I understand the need sometime to make a deal, and the need and the art of politics,” Councilmember Williams said. “But sometimes, it’s okay to shoot for the political revolutionary moonshot. In fact, the only good things that have come in this country have come because of political revolutionary moonshots. From the eight-hour work day, to no child labor, to LGBT rights, to woman suffrage — from the Civil Rights Movement, to freeing the slaves. They were all revolutionary moonshots.”
In announcing her support for Sanders, TV personality and commentator Sally Kohn also criticized Hillary Clinton’s long established record of supporting “reckless wars” and “destructive trade policies.”
Hawaii Congresswoman [D-2nd District] and Iraqi war veteran Tulsi Gabbard, meanwhile, praised Sanders’ “intelligence and foresight” in opposing the U.S. invasion of Iraq, as well as his ability as president to “make the sound decision between war and peace.”
“Through your vote you have incredible power to bring about a new kind of leadership for our nation and our future,” Representative Gabbard said. “It’s an awesome thing.”
Foreign policy was also on the minds of Alex Aylalla and Olga Dominguez.
“I think people are starting to realize what’s up with Hillary and that voting for her would be the same old cycle all over again,” the 30-year-old Aylalla said.
Fellow musician Dominguez, also 30, said that she hopes “people will realize that it is possible [for Bernie to win].”
“Bernie Sanders is doing something that is record-breaking,” Dominguez said.
So far, Sanders has garnered 7 million individual campaign donations during his presidential run — more than the number of unique campaign contributions that President Barack Obama pulled in during his whole 2008 campaign. The average campaign contribution to the Bernie Sanders campaign is just $27.
“He’s the only candidate that isn’t bought by anybody but the people,” 24-year-old Staten Island resident Andrew Paladino said. “We need somebody who believes in democracy and is listening to the people and cares about issues on a deep personal level, rather than some platitude to get elected or gain power.”
Millennial voters like Paladino have proven to be a major factor in Sanders’ presidential run thus far, and are poised to make an impact in New York as well.
“It looks like the millennials are going to come out strong and united,” Paladino added. “I don’t have any friends that are voting for Hillary Clinton. I literally do not know a single person who is even considering voting for Hillary in the primary.”
Luiggi Ramos, a 25-year-old school teacher in Manhattan, said that he still “on the fence” about who to vote for on Tuesday.
“I’m here because I want to hear Bernie’s issues and where he stands on things,” Ramos said. “I’m definitely with his idea of breaking up these banks. But I also feel that Clinton is more experienced. But, I’m also here because I feel something resonating in me wanting to support Sanders’ cause.”
Martin Fagin, a 36-year-old college professor teaching cognitive psychology at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the New School for Social Research, said, “a lot of people in this election are not voting for their best interest” — but even that is beginning to change.
“There are a lot of reasons and variables to account for that, as for as the mainstream media, and as far as a name like Clinton which many feel like they know what they’re getting. But the more Bernie gets his message out there, and the more people hear that message, the more likely they are to come over.”
Marianna Makrides, a 24-year-old pharmacy technician and Sanders volunteer, predicted a repeat of the Michigan Democratic Primary in which Sanders ultimately beat the favored Clinton.
“Bernie is going to win,” Makrides said. “He’s been fighting for the same things his whole life and is true to himself.”
Retired school teacher Agatha Makrides, 56, also predicted a Sanders victory in New York.
“Bernie’s going to win,” she said. “He’s different. He represents something which everybody needs.”
Despite emigrating from the birthplace of western democracy 35 years ago — Greek emigre Demetrios Makrides, 63, said the 2016 Presidential Election is the first time he’s heard an American presidential candidate talk about democracy in the way that Bernie Sanders has during his presidential campaign.
“I hope to see some change in the United States before I die,” the elder Makrides said. “Now is certainly the time for America to change.”