2:46 PM, April 5, 2016. My three friends and I met at the arch. Two of us were wearing “Feel the Bern” t-shirts. All of us were on our toes, tingling with excitement. As we walked to the train station, we saw dozens of other college-age students. When we arrived, we were greeted with a festive, fun-filled atmosphere. People were friendlier than usual. Everyone exchanged not-so-secret nods and waves. One 60-year-old man—an outlier in this crowd of beanies and backpacks—was wearing almost the exact same shirt as I was. It featured a white outline of glasses and flyaway hair—the iconic silhouette of Bernie Sanders.
We were headed to his rally, which took place in the Liacouras Center of Temple University.
3:32 PM: A horde of us got off the train at the Temple station. Even though we arrived an hour and a half before the doors of the center opened, the line already stretched over two blocks.
The line was more diverse than I expected. Sure, it was mostly tatted, Doc-Marten wearing college kids. But there were also men in business suits, married couples with their kids and khakis, even a few old men whose hair was almost as spectacular as Bernie’s.
Even though we were standing in one of the worst places known to man—the never-ending line—it felt like Christmas. Someone was wandering around with a full Bernie costume on, another was giving out free hugs. Holiday glow hung over the block—we were just waiting for a different jolly old man.
4:44: The doors were about to open. That’s when we first hear the news.
Bernie wasn’t actually supposed to come on until 8:30.
That’s right. Another four hours from now.
Another 4 hours spent in the cold, trudging forward oh-so-slowly as people filed through security. We didn’t actually get inside the building until 7:47…5 hours after originally leaving the school.
My feet were numb, I was freezing, exhausted, and so hungry I was willing to pay $4.75 for a shitty hotdog (ketchup not included).
And I couldn’t have been more thrilled.
I was about to see the man who had started from nothing. The candidate who everyone had thought was a joke, but was now neck-in-neck with Clinton for the Democratic nomination. The candidate who has ideas so progressive conservatives think he’s a lunatic. Hell, even his supporters think he’s crazy—in the best way possible.
The energy in the crowd was palpable. We all loved this man. Bernie is basically the grandpa we all wish we had. Honest, endearing, and out to stop the billionaires.
Chants of “Bernie, Bernie, Bernie!” Would sporadically break out as we waited. And waited. And waited.
8:35 PM: It started as a faint roar from the other end of the stadium. People rose to their feet, creating a massive wave effect.
Then I saw him, fluorescent lights gleaming off his bald spot.
The man I’d been waiting for. The man we’d all been waiting for. For six hours.
What followed was an hour and a half of love and acceptance, with a liberal sprinkling of hope and revolution towards a better future.
I’d never felt such energy in one room before.
And it made me wonder: what was it about this bespectacled, hunched old man that makes people so passionate they’re willing to wait 6 hours just to see his face (vaguely, from a distance).
Maybe it’s his Brooklyn accent, or the fact that he garners support from individuals instead of super PACs. Maybe it’s because he’d be the first Jewish president. Maybe people just hate Donald Trump that much.
Or, maybe, it’s because what Bernie stands for is what all humanity needs: love. For all people, regardless of race, social status, cultural background, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. Love in the face of prejudice and injustice. Beyond all else, Bernie Sanders gives his supporters a sense of hope that this kind of all-encompassing acceptance is possible in America. As Bernie himself said: “love trumps hate”.