Bernie Sanders Presidential campaign. (Photo by Aaron Ricca)
KINGMAN – A small and growing group of Kingman voters are passionate about making sure President Donald Trump does not see another term.
More of an introduction to a cause than a full-blown rally, about 20 people gathered inside a conference room at the Mohave County Library April 27 for ‘Kick-Off for Bernie Sanders’, a pre-recorded webcast held by Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT), the former 2016 and current 2020 presidential hopeful.
Local organizers and hosts Ron Handy and Stanfield Major – both Democrats and each at one point joining the slowly growing but vocal, local Democrat/Independent/Progressive movements recognizing and confronting gun violence, racism, LGBTQ and women’s rights (‘March for Our Lives’ and ‘A Discussion of Intolerance and Racism in Our Community’ in 2018 and ‘Mohave County Women’s Rally’ in January 2019) moderated the event.
“Bernie draws a certain type of crowd,” Major said. “There’s a bit of crazy and dismissed voters, but they don’t hate him as much as they hate Trump or Clinton.”
There was an atmosphere of frustration with Trump Administration and the two-party system in general.
During the 40-mintue webcast, Sanders spoke mostly about gaping income inequalities between the rich and poor, solutions to mounting and crippling student loan debt as well addressing the frustrations of moderate voters on both the Democrat and Republican sides of the spectrum and issues still faced by women, ethnic and religious minorities.
The small Kingman crowd ranged in ages from early 30’s to late 60’s. At least three people over the age of 50 raised their hands when asked about who’s still paying off college loans. That included almost half the group of all ages when asked who was still paying off student debt.
Sanders was gunning for the 2016 Democrat presidential nomination but lost to Hillary Clinton in the primary elections under what some claim were rigged circumstances.
Kentucky native Lisa Butcher, a clinical analyst at Kingman Regional Medical Center, has been a life-long Republican and a die-hard Trump supporter. She moved to Kingman with her devoted Democrat husband. They both try to find a middle ground on politics.
Butcher owes nearly $40,000 dollars in student loans. After attending a Sanders rally in Kentucky in 2016 and hearing him talk about how tax breaks and other benefits to the wealthy are chipping away at middle-class Americans, she began to pay attention.
“It was electrifying,” Butcher said. “The money is there, but the priorities aren’t right.”
She’s no fan of former President Barrack Obama’s Affordable Care Act – commonly known as ‘Obamacare’ – but her body language said more than words when one of the attendees referred to Trump supporters as ‘Trumpers.’
“You’re not really bringing us to your side with disparaging remarks,” Butcher said as she also referenced generalizations that Trump supporters were ‘uneducated, illiterate hicks’.
Butcher said unless Sanders runs or the Democrats can nominate a strong candidate, Trump will get her vote again. She’s still convinced Sanders might sway moderate Republicans to his side and beat Trump in 2020.
“We can’t vote for a (Elizabeth) Warren or (Joe) Biden,” she said.
There was a civil crowd, and all maintained their civility.
Handy said more events in the works but nothing is locked down yet. He’s started the Mohave Berners Facebook page to gather and gauge support.
“Stay tuned,” he said.
Although most Mohave County voters lean toward the majority Republican/Conservative demographic, the Mohave County Library – a taxpayer funded entity – has legal right to host meetings, forums and other activities if they are open to the public.
These are some of the guidelines as stated on their website”
“The Mohave County Library District welcomes the use of its meeting rooms by organizations engaged in educational, cultural, civic, and charitable activities, subject to availability, when the rooms are not required for library programs. Activities must be lawful and may not interfere with the normal use of the library by other patrons or with normal library operations, nor endanger individuals or property.
“The library affirms Article 6 of the “Library Bill of Rights” which states, ‘Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.’
“Use of the library community meeting rooms does not imply endorsement by the Mohave County Library District, or by Mohave County, of the group or any viewpoints presented.”
Check out the policy on rentals at https://www.mohavecountylibrary.us/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Meeting-Room-Policy-04-16-18.pdf.
The ‘Kick-Off for Bernie Sanders’ webcast is available on YouTube or click on the hashtag #OrganizeWithBernie
For more information on the Bernie Sanders 2020 Presidential Campaign, visit www.berniesanders.com.