Less than two years ago more than 10,000 Bernie Sanders supporters flocked to Ypsilanti to hear the then presidential candidate rail against Walls Street and promote his socialist plans to overthrow the nation’s ultra-rich “oligarchy.”
Yet dozens of seats went unused inside the 1,000 person capacity Rackham Auditorium at the University of Michigan last week, when Sanders campaigned alongside some of the richest, most well-connected Democrats in Michigan.
The World Socialist Website highlighted the “marked decline in enthusiasm”:
In February 2016, just ten miles down the road, Sanders drew an overflow crowd of 10,000 people to his rally at Eastern Michigan University. In contrast, the 1,000-person capacity auditorium on Friday was about 90 percent full. The audience was dominated by professionals and party-connected young people, with very few workers.
The far-left site offered some perspective on why Sanders may have lost his luster in a state he won during the Democratic primary in 2016. The Ann Arbor event featured Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, an heiress to the Fisher Body auto fortune and wife of former Congressman John Dingell, a close ally with the auto industry.
John Dingell retired in 2014 after 59 years in Congress and his wife took his place. The family’s political dynasty dates back to John Dingell Sr., who held the post for 22 before his son succeeded him.
U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters also attended the recent rally, both of which are seemingly the exact type of folks Sanders loves to hate.
“Peters made his career in the stock market as an officer at Merrill Lynch and vice president of investments for UBS PaineWebber, while Stabenow has given key votes to help with banking deregulation and bills attacking immigrant ‘sanctuary’ cities,” WSW reports. “Both have been reliable supporters of military funding and the financial interests of Wall Street, including the federal budget that increased military spending by $60 billion last month.”
At the rally, Sanders highlighted his 2016 Democratic primary win in Michigan, which came just weeks before he conceded the nomination to Hillary Clinton despite strong evidence her campaign colluded with party officials to push Sanders aside.
The socialist senator from Vermont also shifted his support for Michigan governor from far-left Abdul El-Sayed to centrist Democrat Gretchen Whitmer. At Friday’s rally he blamed lazy Democratic voters for losses in the 2014 midterms, and called on his followers in the Great Lakes State to step up next month, the Detroit Free Press reports.
“We had the lowest voter turnout since World War II. All of 36 percent turned out and all over the country, voter turnout was abysmal,” Sanders said of 2014. “Four years ago, working people in large numbers did not vote. People of color did not vote. Young people in large numbers did not vote and the Republicans won sweeping victories all across the country.
“Our job in the next 18 days is to torn that entire scenario upside down,” he continued. “No more complaining, no more depression, now is the time to stand up, fight back and vote.”