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The narrowly leading Democratic candidate (in Wisconsin) drew polite activists, beard-stroking intellectuals and one very stubborn button salesman.


Hundreds turned out to the Bernie Sanders rally at State Fair Park on Tuesday night, wayward souls looking for political refuge from the blood match otherwise known as the CNN GOP Town Hall. They formed a polite line that swirled through the fairgrounds like a “nautilus” shell, as one attendee remarked. All to see the Starman, a fair nickname because the chorus to the Bowie song swelled at the end of Sanders’ speech.

“There’s a starman, waiting in the sky …”

Plus the wispy white hair like stardust, or a nebula. In related news: the new Marquette Law School Poll has Sanders up over Hillary Clinton 49-45.

Matt Hrodey: It was interesting to hear last night that Sanders is now running for governor of Wisconsin.

Claire Hanan: Righto! With a tagline to boot: “The Opposite of Scott Walker.” What did you think of the venue selection?

MH: The lack of climate control left the huge barn/hangar we were in pleasantly cool. The bathroom line never grew to an unmanageable length, and somehow the miles-long queue that weaved through the park fit comfortably in the auditorium.

Sanders had the following to say about Trump: “Throughout our history the way demagogues have always functioned is by trying to divide us up and to scapegoat minorities. For years it was blacks against whites, native born against immigrants, men against women, gays against straights, always looking at a minority, scapegoating and blaming that minority for the problems plaguing our society.”

Etc. And then he used Trump as a verb. “Togetherness and supporting each other in our time of need always trumps selfishness … At the end of the day, love always trumps hate.”

CH: The crowd loved that. He also led the remaining group – about 50 minutes into his speech – in a chant of all things UNACCEPTABLE.

We got there a little after five, and waited in a line that snaked all around a large parking lot on the 84th Street and Greenfield Avenue side of the fair.

MH: Would you like to buy one of these fine campaign buttons?

CH: We were told multiple times that there would be NO E-CIGARETTES allowed in the building, or as it turns out, liquids of any kind.

MH: It was worse than the airport.

CH: Yes! And we were accosted by button people. And one lady whose job seemed to be to follow around a button guy and remind him that the buttons could set off the metal detectors. (She had a couple buttons herself.)

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Did you think we’d even get in while we were in the line?

MH: I was hovering at 50-50 until the door itself was in view. The hula-hoop performers really rattled me.

CH: Yes. That was just one piece of the in-line entertainment. We were also given newsletters about the “heavenly angels hovering above our planet.”

MH: That was nice.

CH: Here is an excerpt: “The chariots of GOD are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the LORD is among them” (Psalm 68:17). It is most obvious that the chariots of GOD are today’s flying saucers, which are known as UFOs. They are not from any other planet, but are the angels of GOD, which for centuries have policed the earth for crimes against the law of GOD and against the heirs of salvation.

This portion of the in-line entertainment was not endorsed by Camp Bern.

MH: I heard the Arcturians are swinging in favor of Cruz for reasons they’re only intelligent enough to comprehend.

CH: I accept that. I thought we weren’t going to get in and that we’d have to feel the Bern from a cold parking lot with a couple hula hoopers and other teenagers who mostly just walked back and forth up and down the line. The others in the line spanned a large age range. I’d put the median at 40-something, mostly because there were a lot of 20-year-olds and 60-somethings.

And then we entered the secret service security check, where I was patted down and my perfume was confiscated.

How was your experience?

MH: Swift and a touch aggressive, yet emotionally detached. It was pure federal law enforcement, and I enjoyed it immensely.

CH: I’m so glad. Once we entered the Wisconsin Products Pavilion, which usually houses delicious things like ice cream and grilled cheese, we joined the Berners in waiting for his Vermont highness.

The tail end of the line, which wound several hundred deep through State Fair Park.

The tail end of the line, which wound several hundred deep through State Fair Park.

MH: He must have the worst posture of all the R or D candidates. His internal shoulder rotation is tragic.

CH: I think his hunch is exaggerated by his suit, but I agree. It’s an intense pose that is very different from the laid-back, rollin’-up-mah-sleeves chill that’s practically habit for male candidates. This election year is of course very different in that none of the five really do this. Walker nailed this, though, before dropping out. He had lots of practice.


MH: If you had to pick two words to describe Sanders’ candidacy, what would they be?

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CH: Surprising and maybe abstract. That’s four. What about you?

MH: Quantum Liberal, as in, down to his atoms. Makes George McGovern look like Barry Goldwater.

CH: He hit on every liberal issue under the sun, and made a lot of mentioned “history” more than any other candidate I’ve heard. Usually, though, he’s saying it in the context of remember an event or action that happened to a certain group of people, whether it was women or Native Americans.

Which points drew the biggest response from the crowd?

MH: There were explosions when he mentioned women and togetherness.

CH: Yeah, and marijuana. And then, after an hour, it was done. I felt like lying on the floor by that point and chewing on my coat sleeve.

MH: Demographically, this was a relatively young crowd. Many looked like they had cruised over from their college dorm. Some parents had arrived with their children. Overall, a hotbed for voter fraud. Just kidding.

CH: At one point, I noticed two men with hearing aids on my right, and two women with nose rings on my left. Then the guys in front of us were somewhere in between. One of them, in his steel-toes, was like Bernie’s No. 1 Hype Man, which got distracting at times. I also witnessed A LOT of Snapchatting.

MH: Yeah, there were some hardhat Democrats in attendance. Also a few goatee’d college Marxists. And a girl sitting on the floor and crying. State Rep. Jonathan Brostoff cut in the bathroom line but only because he was about to go on stage to announce Sanders.

CH: Yeah, he lacked the hype factor of a Rebecca Kleefisch at a Walker rally, but he got the job done.

MH: Did you feel like you were waist-deep in a political revolution?

CH: There was definitely enough conviction in the room for one, yes. Were you ready to shed your journalistic integrity for The Bern?

MH: Never, I’ll clutch at that tattered cloth until I’m dead and buried. They’ll say, “What is that thing?” at my funeral.

CH: Amen. “Heavenly angels hovering over our planet” will watch over you and guide you to your ink-stained grave.

MH: I’ll be berning somewhere. Any more bern puns?


CH: berning sensation

bern notice

bern treatment

berning love

MH: St. Bern-nard

CH: berned out

bernt toast

MH: Bernaise sauce

CH: Bernuda Triangle

MH: Bernuda shorts


CH: Heartbern

MH: Cinnabern

CH: Sunbernt



MH: San Bernardino


CH: TaBERNacle

MH: I’m berned out.

CH: Me too.