The crowd inside was extremely vocal. The doors opened two hours before Sanders was scheduled to speak, and the crowd spent that entire time singing, doing the wave, cheering, and chanting back and forth to each other. "We are the 99%!" and "Not me, us!" were popular refrains. While the cheers and chants were from a friendly crowd, one could still feel the seething, deep anger emanating. These people have felt disenfranchised, and were willing to let it be known. Disco Inferno played over the loudspeakers before U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the former vice chair of the DNC who stepped down to throw her support behind Bernie, came on stage to introduce the Vermont senator.
The crowd exploded when Bernie Sanders came on the stage, but quickly sat down to hear him speak. He talked for over an hour, and the crowd often gave him standing ovations to his points. He touched on student debt, health care, the environment, war, and women's and minority issues. He spent time going over campaign finance reform. He ended the rally urging people to get out and vote in North Carolina in their Tuesday primary. "At the end of the day, love trumps hate." The crowd responded with the largest cheer yet as Sanders shook supporters hands and left the stage.
For my part, I didn't feel as flabbergasted as I did at Trump's rally. No one was punched, no protesters were jeered at, and the press were allowed to photograph from some pretty cool spots. The press weren't part of the show, we weren't jeered at, we didn't have to worry about people losing their cool at us. We weren't confined to a corral. It felt much more how I had always envisioned a political rally would feel. I get it, Trump's rallies are much more "fun" to watch. They remind one of a reality TV show. He gets more play time with the media because of that. He knows how to bring out the anger in a crowd. Bernie knows how to rile up a crowd too, but they were cheering because of policy, not because of an endorsement for water boarding. I know this is completely coming across as biased, because it is. Bernie may not be the perfect choice for president, but he sure showed me by his actions on Friday that he knows what it means to be president, and I really appreciate that.