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RALLYING FOR A FUTURE TO BELIEVE IN: Sanders visits OKC in final push before Super Tuesday

Cassidy Smith / Red Dirt Report
Alexis Tanyan would want a Sanders administration to honor indigenous treaties.
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OKLAHOMA CITY- Although Republican nominees were busy in the metro on Friday, plenty of Oklahomans were ready to “Feel the Bern” on Sunday afternoon, when U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, running for the Democratic nomination for president, came to speak during the “A Future to Believe in Oklahoma City Rally” at the Cox Convention Center.

Voters young and old alike gathered for the chance to hear Sanders’ popular message of free college tuition, better universal healthcare, equal pay for women, and the reformation of America’s criminal justice system. As expected, a considerable percentage of supporters were younger women, who typically see Bernie as a “true feminist.”

Sanders, a democratic socialist, was just one of the many presidential hopefuls to stop in the Sooner State, in an effort to make a final push for momentum heading into Super Tuesday.

Pow-wow dancers perform prior to Bernie Sanders taking the stage at the Cox Convention Center on Sunday. (Cassidy Smith / Red Dirt Report)

Rally guest included Native American pow-wow dancers, State Sen. Connie Johnson (D-Forest Park) and State Rep. Mike Shelton (D-Oklahoma City).

Both Johnson and Shelton spoke on behalf of Sanders; however it was Shelton’s remarks including: “I want a FREEDOM RIDER! Bernie is a Freedom Rider!” that caused the arena to erupt into cheers.

Those in attendance were also in for a treat when singer Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips arrived to give an endorsement of sorts to Sanders. He let Oklahomans know that their part in the election “isn’t just to go out and vote, it’s to go out and spread the word.”

When it was finally time to speak, Sanders walked out in his standard navy suit and blue shirt, manila folder in hand. He and wife Jane were all smiles while waving to a large crowd of more than 6,000 people.

OKLAHOMANS ‘FEEL THE BERN’

Red Dirt Report had the opportunity to talk to members of the crowd throughout the day.

Leo Ngala is a 44-year old small business owner; he’s also a father of three and immigrant from Cameroon. This is Ngala’s first election to vote, and is excited to vote for Sanders saying, “he’s been consistent with what he says and in his record, he’s not an opportunist. He really cares about the middle class.”

Leo Ngala is an immigrant from Cameroon who "feels the Bern." (Cassidy Smith / Red Dirt Report)

Ngala feels Sanders will keep promises to help small businesses; however, the real focus he’s had is how Bernie could positively impact his family.

“When he becomes president, my children will be guaranteed a future. I like that he is truthful and honest, and doesn’t preach hate or division. It says a lot that he was arrested fighting for civil rights.”

Currently enrolled in school, 18-year old Alexis Tanyan is a full-time student. Like Ngala, this will also be her first election. While she hopes Sanders will work to forgive student loans, her main concern is if he will follow through on his promises, and listen to the Native American vote. Tanyan was pleased to hear Sanders take part in the dialogue regarding the heritage she takes pride in.

“I really would like Sanders to win so people will honor these indigenous treaties that are usually overlooked. It’s also vital for Sanders to begin looking into the countless missing and murdered Native American women," Tanyan said.

Concerned parents Dylan and Becky Nagode turned the rally into an educational experience, and brought their daughter to see Sanders speak. Dylan is a music teacher, and Becky works with special education students. They both plan to vote for Sanders because they agree with his stances, especially on the education forefront.

Dylan and Becky Nagode, with their daughter, see education as the key issue in the campaign. (Cassidy Smith / Red Dirt Report)

“It would be great to give children a better future. We need to see better funding for education, less testing and more art programs, and lower college tuition,” Dylan Nagode said.

A CROWD PLEASER

Even though Sanders showed a lighter side during parts of his speech, he also took on a more serious tone when encouraging his fans to tell corrupt politicians and big government, “Enough is ENOUGH.”

Additionally, he offered a reminder that sometimes the truth isn’t a pleasant thing, which is why Americans need to completely understand what is truly going on. Throughout his speech, Sanders discussed how these setbacks were what gave the hope and motivation that fueled America’s colorful history of progress and change.

Briefly mentioned was former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s current scandal - her pricey orations she made to Wall Street interests. While on the topic of the unreleased speech transcripts Sanders remarked, “if you’re paid $200,000 for a speech, it must be a damn good speech!”

Eventually Sanders turned the focus on current Republican frontrunner, Donald Trump, noting that nothing could bring him more pleasure than beating him in the election. He also took a moment to reflect on his opponent’s bullying tactics.

“People like how Donald ‘tells it like it is.’ Bigotry, it not telling it like it is," Sanders said. 

Before leaving, Sanders offered the crowd a simple message, saying, “We will win, because love Trump’S hatred!”

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About the Author

Cassidy Smith

A born and bred Texan, Cassidy Smith hails from Amarillo, a place where residents take pride in...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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