Marsha Medina made Oakhurst matter last week.
It was spectacularly the biggest political event yet seen in this new presidential election cycle as more than 100,000 private citizens packed 3,500 separate venues from-coast-to coast for a 73 year-old candidate still being written off as a loser by major political pundits of every persuasion.
Not so fast.
When I received my invitation to join a “Bernie Sanders House Party” in Oakhurst a few days earlier, I was surprised and intrigued. As a member of the Executive Committee of the Oakhurst Democratic Club and moderator of our monthly meetings, I hadn’t received any notice about such a gathering from party leaders in Sacramento. Was this authorized? Who was in charge? What was the deal?
So I was blown away when I entered the Oakhurst Branch Library Community Room Wednesday night and found every seat taken - packed wall-to-wall by total strangers for the most part - meeting for the very first time. There were a few friends in attendance, but these were greatly outnumbered by dozens of brand new faces - just regular people moved to action by a common, collective concern.
Martha Medina had heard about the national organizing plan and decided to do something about it. Martha, her husband and three children moved to the foothills from Sonoma County 12 years ago. She’s not formally affiliated with any group or organization, but feels things are horribly wrong with our political system and believes in “standing up for the oppressed.”
Martha tells us, “I donated the day Bernie Sanders announced his candidacy and received e-mails. One email explained the 29th and how we all needed to join or create an event. I started off becoming part of a Fresno event, then created my own at home with friends until I realized I’d need a larger venue.
She adds: “Bernie Sanders has always been a fighter for the middle class.” Martha suggests we listen to Senator Sanders after omitting the word “socialist” from our “Automatic No-O’ Meter.”
This seems particularly timely since last week also witnessed an important 50th anniversary celebrating passage of the biggest and most far-reaching socialist program of my lifetime - national health insurance for those over 65 - most commonly known as Medicare.
That’s right. Medicare is democratic socialism in action. So is Social Security. Go on. Check it out. Give it a Google.
Bernie spoke live Wednesday night - video streamed from the living room of a modest two-bedroom apartment in southwest Washington, D.C. The effect was stunning. He spoke directly into the camera in a firm, gentle tone. Only occasionally glancing at notes on a yellow legal pad, he summarized in 20 minutes a number of critical bullet points, introducing each topic with the words: “Enough is enough.”
In evaluating his chances for election, Senator Sanders stressed that he is fighting incredible odds in the face of strongly established, deeply entrenched, powerfully committed corporate and political entities and that he will be outspent by hundreds of millions of dollars as time goes on.
He is one man raging against many machines.
He acknowledges that his campaign is completely dependent upon those who recall the words of Abraham Lincoln - rallying enough true believers in government of, by and for the people to carry the day in the formation of a new political order.
“The American people are saying loudly and clearly enough is enough,” says Bernie.
But will they act? Can unified, unbowed solidarity replace jeering cynicism and dark despair? Is there magic in the wind? And will that be - enough?