I had no idea what to expect yesterday when I walked through the gates at Irvine Meadows for the Bernie Sanders rally. Unlike Donald Trump's Costa Mesa madhouse last month, there were no protesters, no people chugging Coor's Light in the parking lot beforehand, nor were there people salivating to beat each other's heads in. Rather, supporters waltzed through the entrance holding hands, hi-fiving one another and making friends with complete strangers.
It all seemed like a façade. But when I saw a group of interracial couples— some of them LBGT— who held up signs that said, "Imagine how powerful America would be if we were United" and "Love is color blind," it occurred to me that not all political rallies in Orange County are ridden with hate.
Walking into the amphitheater was like walking into a very tame Woodstock. The sour aroma of marijuana wafted through the air, while Neil Young's "Rockin' In The Free World" played over the sound system. People walked around the arena with the two-finger peace-sign held above their heads and signs that read "Climate Change IS Real." Although many attendees were young adults dripping in tie-dye, teachers, single parents, nurses, Latino families, Native Americans and children were also in the audience. Garden Grover mayor and professed Berner Bao Nguyen was also in attendance yesterday and spent the afternoon mingling and taking pictures with Bernie supporters.
About an hour and half before Sanders addressed Orange County, a series of performers and speakers took the stage. GueroLoco, a reggaeton artist whose messages revolve around pushing the people of America to become united and encouraging our children to be the best they can be, performed a three-song set that was well received by the audience.
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But the award for best opening speaker/performer goes to John Densmore of The Doors. With long silver hair, black sunglasses and a brown blazer, he strutted with rockstar mojo on the stage and began drumming the beat to "LA Woman" with his hands on the podium. He proceeded to sing "LA Woman" to the first chorus, which had everyone in the amphitheater on their feet and singing. He explained that as an Orange County native, he was thrilled to be speaking to us, particularly about Sanders who, he believes, is going to be the best candidate for our country. "That's why we need to vote and talk as much as we can about why voting is important. We can change America," he said to the crowd's roar.
Sanders took the stage at six and spoke about why and how his plans for America are going to work. He addressed student debt, the value of teachers, the environment, the corruption on Wall Street, the corruption of the corporate media, homelessness, veterans and the elderly, women's reproductive rights, LBGT rights, rescheduling cannabis, the prison system, healthcare and the cruelty of the current deportation laws. And although he directly called out his Republican competitor, he maintained an air of elegance the entire time. Never once was it unprofessional, over the top or out-of-line— unlike Trump.
Bernie returns to OC tomorrow at the Anaheim Convention Center, the day before Trump. May Trump feel the Bern on Wednesday...BOOM.