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Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Make a Show of Force in Queens

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On Saturday, at Bernie Sanders’s big “Bernie’s Back” rally in Queens, the guest of honor, apart from Sanders himself, was Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Earlier in the week, word came that the young congresswoman, who is the most famous and successful member of the lefty cohort that traces its political activation back to Sanders’s insurgent 2016 Presidential campaign, would attend the rally and offer Sanders her endorsement—welcome news for a candidate navigating the most delicate personal and political moment of his campaign. Earlier this month, Sanders suffered a heart attack while campaigning in Nevada. Doctors inserted two stents into one of his arteries, and Sanders took a break from the trail to recover. On Tuesday, he appeared onstage with his Democratic opponents at a nationally televised debate. But it was Saturday’s rally that was billed as his comeback.

With Ocasio-Cortez’s presence already announced, the big news coming out of the rally was its size. According to the Sanders campaign, more than twenty-five thousand people crowded into a park in the shadow of the bridge known now as the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, with the towers of Manhattan visible across the East River. It was the show of force that his campaign was looking for when they picked New York as their venue for this event. Sanders isn’t a reboot guy—consistency, of message and affect, is his calling card. But he needed to show he could respond to a health scare that made his age—seventy-eight—more of a topic than it already was. Even before the heart attack, Sanders was in a bit of a positioning trap, with Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden both recently polling ahead of him, one appealing to voters looking for the Party to make a progressive turn, the other appealing to voters who want to vote for someone they already know. Sanders was comfortably above the second tier of candidates in the race, but could he claim a spot in the first? Saturday’s rally was a reminder of the broad support he still commands.

“What do they say?” the filmmaker Michael Moore said, warming up the crowd by warning of the “tropes” that the “powers that be” would try to use against Sanders. “Bernie’s too old. Yeah? Well here’s what’s too old. The electoral college is too old. A seven-dollar-and-twenty-five cent minimum wage—that’s too old. Women not being paid the same as men—that’s too old.” Moore was one of six warmup speakers. When Ocasio-Ortez’s turn came, she, too, tried to flip the worries about Sanders’s age on their head, reminding the crowd of the political fights that the senator has engaged in since long before she arrived on the scene, on issues from health care to education to discrimination. “Bernie Sanders did not do these things because they were popular, and that’s what we need to remember,” she said. “He did this, and he fought for these aims and these ends when they came at the highest political cost in America.”

When Sanders finally appeared at the podium, the shadows were getting long in the park. In March, Sanders launched his campaign a borough over, in Brooklyn, where he grew up. At the time, his campaign was promising that voters would get to see a more personal and personable version of Sanders than they’d seen in 2016. That hasn’t happened. Sanders doesn’t want to talk about himself. He wants to talk about his core issues: inequality, injustice, Medicare for All, abolishing student debt, raising wages, fixing housing. On Saturday, he dispatched with the topic of his heart attack with his usual aversion to sentiment. “Let me also, on a personal note, take this opportunity to thank the many people across this nation who in my time of illness sent me and my family their prayers and well wishes and their love,” he said. “It has meant the world to Jane and me, and I thank all of you so very much. And, along with the great medical care that I received, I am happy to report to you that I am more than ready, more ready than ever, to carry on with you the epic struggle that we face today. I am more than ready to assume the office of President of the United States. I am more than ready to take on the greed and corruption of the corporate élite and their apologists.”

And, with that, he was off, taking the crowd through his stump speech, identifying the villains in his story of modern America, and describing the weapons he would wield to put them in their place, with the crowd booing and cheering, and occasionally breaking out in chants of “end the wars” or “abolish ICE.” Sanders, wearing a sweater under a blazer against the October chill, hit his points behind the podium in his usual way. His voice boomed through the P.A. system, his tone, as always, equal parts old Brooklyn grandpa and Old Testament preacher. He spoke for almost an hour. Next week, Sanders will embark on what his campaign has called an “End Corporate Greed Tour,” in Iowa. “To put it bluntly,” he told the crowd on Saturday, “I am back.”



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Thanks !

Thanks for sharing this, you are awesome !