Tori Bland

Bernie Sanders during the rally in Lawrence, KS.

Persephone Means and Tori Bland

As a female and gay voter, I have been fond of Senator Bernard “Bernie” Sanders for his ability to listen to the citizens and include everyone. He has always been active in civil rights movements, including desegregation and same-sex marriage. Also, he views healthcare as a right, not a privilege. 29 million Americans remain uninsured and millions more are underinsured.

When I learned that there would be an opportunity to hear him speak in Lawrence, Kansas, I was beyond ecstatic. I told my mom and it wasn’t difficult to convince her to let me go.

Not only was I excited to be able to hear Sanders speak, as a high school journalist and editor for the IHS Messenger I wanted to report on it. I was able to get into the media press box with a small paper printed “media pass.” Among almost 10,000 others who were just as eager to hear Sanders, I felt right at home.

Sanders talked about bringing back the shrinking middle class of America by cleaning up corruption in big corporate businesses and the unfairness in the criminal justice system. He repeatedly talked about the corruption within the presidential campaign financing system. Many of of his plans, such as reworking the universal healthcare system, increasing Social Security benefits, and better support for veterans, would be paid for by taxing the rich and big business.

The crowd, which was made up of plenty of college students, went wild when Senator Sanders talked about his ideas for providing tuition-free college education and legalizing marijuana. He believes the war on drugs is ineffective and harmful. It has destroyed people’s lives through mass incarceration of nonviolent offenders. As of June 2015, 48 percent of all federal inmates are in jail for drug-related offenses. Compare this figure to the fact that homicide, aggravated assault, and kidnapping offenders comprise only 2.9 percent of the federal prison population.

All in all, it was an amazing experience. This man has my vote, and I can easily see him as the next president. I hope you feel the Bern, too.

-Editor Persephone Means


I arrived at the rally around one o’clock on a chilly Thursday. The doors didn’t open until four and the rally itself didn’t start until seven. There was already a huge crowd waiting at the fairgrounds. I was honestly surprised at how many people were there so early. Seeing as how Kansas is a red state, I didn’t expect to see so many right wing democrats in one place. I was right at home.

I stood in line and waited with a few of my friends. I witnessed the line grow larger with each passing minute.

I’ve never seen such a diverse group of people on one place before. A bus of elderly people was dropped off at the front of the never ending line. I saw a few babies, and there were numerous families, as well.

Then at around 4:15, the doors opened. My friends and I were some of the first people to get in. After going through security, I ran straight to the front of the barricade. I had brought a camera and I wanted to have a good view of Mr. Sanders.

A little over three hours later, the rally started. There were a few speakers before Bernie so he didn’t start his speech until about 7:30.

“I’m sorry this started so late, I’m told that there are 5,000 people waiting outside for me and I wanted to make sure everybody got in,” Sanders said while straightening his papers.

I was in awe. The man who has my vote was standing right in front of me. It was like nothing I have ever experienced.

I nodded my head in agreement at every sentence that Bernie spoke. In fact, my neck got a little sore.

Sanders spoke about women’s rights, decriminalizing marijuana, the cost of higher education, prescription costs, the LGBT+ community, and homeless vets. He also mentioned people of color and how racism is very much alive in the United States.  

He ended his speech at around nine o’clock. He then proceeded to walk around the barricade and shake hands with the audience members. I happened to be one of those lucky people.

I went home motivated and more at ease. I finally feel like there is someone trying to make a difference for the future of this country. That Saturday I caucused for the first time with a few others. It was a new experience, seeing as how it was my first time to vote on anything political. It was long, exhausting, and it got a little intense, at times. However, my vote made a difference. Bernie Sanders conquered Kansas and proved that “love trumps hate.”

-Staff Writer Tori Bland