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“This Movement Doesn’t End on Election Day”


A line of hundreds of animated, exuberant, and roused Coloradans meandered around the Tivoli and deep into 9th Street Park for an opportunity to rally with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren for the Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine campaign on the evening of Oct. 16.

A study from the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank in Washington D.C., contends that rallies “build political movements that ultimately affect policymaking, and that these effects arise from inf luencing political views rather than solely through the revelation of existing political preferences.” With help from CU Denver’s Political Science department, the CU Denver Sentry had the opportunity to obtain press credentials to witness, first-hand, the energy, excitement, and potential that these rallies aim to stir up.

T h e r a l l y was announced a b r u p t l y o n Saturday morning. With a 24 hour turnover, emails and Facebook feeds exploded as friends, coworkers, and family members shared the news that the Clinton campaign planned to host an event on Auraria Campus. The excitement and fervor of the event seemed to be centered around much more than just the Clinton campaign. Assigned to speak at the event were former presidential hopeful Senator Bernie Sanders of Virginia and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachussets.

These stalwart-voiced personalities have been personas that the Clinton campaign have needed as surrogates for its cause. “Warren has often been tasked with reaching out to younger progressive voters who had previously rallied behind Sanders,” The Huffington Post says. “Warren once again sought to mend these bridges by crediting Sanders for shaping the direction of the Democratic Party ahead of the 2016 presidential election.” Utilizing this platform, the Clinton campaign sought to brew the perfect political potion to stir “Bernie or Busters” to indisputably rally behind Clinton.

Photo: Taylor Kirby

Photo: Taylor Kirby

The event was hosted in the Tivoli Turnhalle, and much to the chagrin of the Sentry staff, with much of the small space being dominated by banners, gates, and media pit, the room quickly turned into a very intimate venue. With so many students lined up anxiously waiting to enter the building, it was unclear whether or not the room’s capacity would hold each and every individual.

As attendees f looded into the Turnhalle, Clinton staffers were directed and handed out signs to fill the locale with cerulean and white “Clinton/Kaine,” “Stronger Together,” and “Our Colorado” hand signs. Considering that speakers with Sanders’ and Warren’s clout regularly max out convention-sized venues independently, the Turnhalle was not equipped for the demand of a dual-headlining event. Hundreds of people were turned away from the main space, many of whom were redirected to overf low spaces like the Tivoli food court to watch a livestream of the rally from hastily-assembled projectors. While a local band hyped up the crowd in the Turnhalle, Warren and Sanders paid the overflow c r owd s a n u n scheduled visit.

“ You came out to see us to tonight, and your vote matters just as much as everyone in that main room,” Sanders said. As brief as the detour was, the effort to meet with every person who made the trek to Auraria Campus is emblematic of how the pair operates as political performers. It is because of moments like this that the Clinton campaign has been relying heavily on the natural charisma and authenticity of both Sanders and Warren in the last couple of months.

During the rally proper, the speaker lineup began with a handful of passionate ground-level Clinton staffers projecting their endorsements onto the sea of attendees. Maria Cortez, a Colorado native and first-generation American, told of the story of her family moving to the US from Mexico to lay down tracks, both metaphorically and literally. “This country was built by immigrants,” Cortez said. “Your voice is your vote.”

The zest of the function grew as current Colo.-state representative Joe Salazar and House of Representatives candidate Morgan Carroll roused the house by giving their own abridged State-of-the-state address. “Colorado is suffering from a housing crisis and batting with the fastest growing economies in the nation,” Salazar said. Salazar aimed to persuade the attendees that Colorado aspires to be the most progressive state in the US.

The crowd was fully charged by the time Elizabeth Warren took the stage, and she graciously waited through a full minute of thunderous applause before beginning her sharp-edged speech. From her opening lines onward, she was out for blood. She held little back as she fired up the crowd with her comments condemning recent conservative policy and rhetoric during the campaign year and beyond.

Firing at the financial realities of the United States, she roared that “The world’s rigged for the billionaires of the world and Donald Trump.” Picking at past statements Trump made about the 2008 Great Recession, Warren recalled that Trump “rooted for an economic depression, so he could gobble up houses.” This remark promptly lead Warren to call out Trump for dithering to release his tax returns. “You too chicken to release your tax returns?” Warren said, followed by authentic chicken clucks and a chorus of laughter from the audience.

Running down the Democratic platform that Warren called the Clinton administration platform, “the most progressive platform in American History.” She hit each benchmark issue to attempt to sway millennial voters whom may still be undecided following the departure of Bernie Sanders from the presidential race. Hitting on tuition-free college, scientific-based action to curb climate change, and an equal treatment of all people, Warren sought to humiliate the Republican nominee with his own words.

In reference to Trump’s self-proclaimed “locker room talk,” Warren was shocked by Trump’s defense. “He said that these women were ‘too ugly to be the objects of his assault,’” Warren said. “I’m not just mad anymore. His words make me furious.”

She also commented on the division of the GOP. “We believe we are stronger together,” Warren said. “We have to double down on Trump and make sure that the selfish little sleazeball will never be elected.”

Sanders took the stage as Warren was finishing her closing remarks, and upon seeing the the two inspirational senators manning the same podium, the Turnhalle assembly lost all form of decorum.

The rhetoric of the evening took a noticeable turn when it became Sanders’ turn to rally. Warren spent her stage time encouraging attendees to vote for Clinton as often as she was able, using the threat of a Trump presidency and listing off the Secretary’s increasingly progressive viewpoints to rouse the crowd’s cheers. Sanders, however, was exactly the same kind of speaker he was back when he spearheading his own bid for the presidency.

He remained deep in the trenches of policy and maintained focus on the hopeful future of politics rather than dwell on the dark landscapes of election season. “Real change doesn’t come from top down — it’s down-up,” Sanders said.

He invoked Clinton’s name much less frequently, but with great effect: given the young age of most of the crowd, he played to the possibility that many of them still mourned his candidacy and used his own name to bolster the credibility of Clinton’s. He regularly mentioned the negotiations the two campaigns made at the DNC and told the crowd how inf luential his policies were on Clinton’s current platform.

Sanders is dedicating himself to Clinton’s campaign until election day. “In these last few weeks [before the election], I will exhaust myself to make sure Hillary Clinton is elected as President of the United States,” Sanders said.

In some of his final words of the rally, he reminded voters that politics don’t end just because a new president is elected. “Politics does not end on election day,” Sanders said. “We’ve got to do everything. Nov. 9th we continue our efforts with what real politics is about—transforming this country.”

-Morgan Mackey, William Card, Taylor Kirby


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