The view from Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
I was happy to attend a recent rally by Senator Bernie Sanders in my base of operations in the bustling metropolis of Sheboygan, Wisconsin. I’m also glad to pass along my observations to the readers of this column.
No one can deny that Senator Sanders has unique power as a speaker. The most common response I heard from the people I talked with afterwards was a positive reaction to the Senator’s sincerity. I have to admit, he objectively comes off as the most honest politician you’ve ever heard. It’s borderline amusing to me that after my recent dueling columns on whether or not he should stay in the race, the vitriol has mostly been spewed by “Bernie supporters,” despite the fact that I preface both articles with the knowledge that I’m a supporter myself. For the record, folks, if you’re going to call me stupid on the Internet (which you are more than welcome to do), please, please, please, spell-check your comment before you post. I would never, ever call you an idiot for disagreeing with me, but you obviously don’t need a lot of help.
[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]A significant victory. [/pullquote]
But back to the matter at hand: at the time of this writing, the major news sites have Senator Sanders taking Wisconsin by around 13 points. A significant victory, but not necessarily a game changer. As I’ve stated many times in this column, I think that either Democratic nominee is by far a preferable choice to any of the entertaining-yet-scary GOP options.
But what about “normal” people? Not pundits or columnists or pretentious windbags like myself, but everyday citizens. Well, I can tell you that in Sheboygan, there was an immense cross-section of demographics. Seniors, veterans, millennials, minorities, high school students; it was as much of a sampling of this community as any I’ve seen in my almost two years here. There was some skepticism from the middle-aged and the elderly; most of that group seemed to respond positively to his demeanor while still remaining suspicious of his means and histrionics. The young (and I count this grouping as under 25ish) were vocal, vehement, and out in force. Their energy was pleasant to see, especially as a counterpoint to the dark and troubling rumblings at Mr. Trump‘s rallies. Talking with some of them after the event, it was also pleasant to hear that they were much more engaged and informed than a middle-aged curmudgeon like me would expect.
Sheboygan is a funny little town. More progressive than you’d expect (or more than my snobby elitist butt expected when I relocated here), a thriving cultural scene, and an aging population being joined by talented and motivated young people relocating from Milwaukee, Green Bay, or Chicago, seeking a more suburban lifestyle. Though Caucasians are the majority, there are significant African-American, Latino, and Hmong populations. There’s great food, kind people, and reasonable access to bigger cities if you need that on the weekend. Wait…I’m not exactly sure when I became a cheerleader for Sheboygan? But I have to admit that I adore my adopted home.
But what’s important is what Senator Sanders said that moved this crowd to its feet several times. His familiar stump speech railed at corporations and banks that avoid taxes, championed the middle class, touted his plans for free tuition to public universities, and sniped at Secretary Clinton more than once (this is where he made his recent demand for an apology from his primary foe, despite reliable intel that he may have exaggerated her ties to fossil fuel lobbyists). Despite that misstep and whether or not you agree with his policy objectives, methods, or persona, the guy rings true. And in an age of Trump and Cruz and investigations and private servers and Snowden and Panama and Putin, that may be his most powerful advantage.
As a wise friend recently stated, Secretary Clinton is the best president for the country we have. Senator Sanders is the best president for the country I want.