(THE ATLANTIC) MOLLY BALL — There are no laugh lines in Sanders’s speech. (As one longtime associate memorably described his delivery to Politico: “Straight ahead, growl. Straight ahead, growl.”) “Citizens United is moving this country toward an oligarchic society!” he says. The grannies have gotten out of their chairs and are walking around banging on their glasses.
“We need jobs and education, not jails and incarceration!” he says. The grannies are literally screaming: Ber-nie, Ber-nie, Ber-nie! A good half of the ballroom—the respectable half—is silent, unmoved, but the Sanders partisans have enough passion to fill a ballroom three times this size.
After Sanders finishes, I approach the grannies. “I’m not thrilled about Hillary,” says Janette Ryan-Busch, a 60-year-old organic farmer. “She’s too closely tied to corporate America.” The other, Sue Ellen CrossLea, a retired government worker and former Peace Corps volunteer, was a member of the Democratic Socialists of America in her 20s. “Hillary is for the big boys, I’m afraid,” she says. “If she wins the nomination, I’ll work my butt off for her, but I’m not going to work for her to be the nominee—I just don’t agree with her.”
It is easy enough to see where Berniemania is coming from. Antiestablishment passion, left and right, is in the air. People are angry all over, fed up with a system that isn’t working, an elite that doesn’t listen, a politics perpetually conducted within a narrow, unrepresentative band of acceptable opinion. “I think there is a lot more anger and frustration on the part of the American people toward corporate America, toward the political establishment, toward the media establishment, than I think inside-the-beltway pundits perceive,” Sanders tells me. If he does nothing else in this campaign, he will have succeeded in driving home that point.