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Published on June 9th, 2016 | by Reporters Desk

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Sanders’ 44 Percent Falls Short

Sanders loses LA County by wider margin than the state

By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

Musician and activist Mike de la Rocha predicted that mainstream media would call the election for Hillary Clinton, instead of Sen. Bernie Sanders, before the polls closed.

“There’s a couple of primaries on the [June] 7, one in New Jersey which ends three hours before,” he said he said at Banning Park this past Memorial Day. He was a part of the Sanders campaign recreational vehicle tour of artists stumping for Sanders from one of California to the other during the preceding four days.

“You best believe that the media pundits and news outlets when the polls close are going to say Hillary won. Game over. She got the nomination. But she doesn’t actually have the delegates to win yet. They’re doing that because they don’t want people in California to actually go out and vote.”

It’s doubtful who could have predicted that it would have been called before California polls even opened.

At the time Sanders and Clinton were statistically in a dead heat.

Sanders supporters saw the race as a David and Goliath story—a grassroots campaign with no money pitted against the establishment with virtually unlimited resources—but on June 7 Goliath won anyway and won handedly.

The RV tour that stopped in Wilmington on Memorial Day—before moving on to Long Beach and the Pico Union area, didn’t feel like a campaign event. It was more organic—maybe even Obama-like, if we’re talking about the 2008 campaign.

It doesn’t feel like a campaign even now. Especially since Sanders has vowed to stick to his pledge to fight until he reaches the Democratic convention floor in July.

Instead, it feels like an uprising by progressives disappointed by ground lost and every quarter given in the name of grim pragmatism of getting something done in the face of recalcitrant congress.

From De la Rocha’s comments and those of his RV mates Rosario Dawson (Sin City: A Dame to Kill For), Shailene Woodley of The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Kendrick Sampson (How to Get Away with Murder), and CNN pundit Nomiki Konst.

Mike De la Rocha, founder and director of Revolve Impact.They had set off from the United States-Mexico border with an itinerary that visited Watsonville, Salinas, San Jose, Stockton, Wilmington, Long Beach and Pico Union—even rolling through the Monterrey Jazz Festival. At each place, its passengers coordinated with individuals and local nonprofits working on issues ranging from helping the victims drug cartel violence in Mexico to anti-immigration policies.

The RV tour visited Banning Park with little notice or fanfare. De la Rocha is the most unusual of the bunch given his lengthy resume working as a legislative aid and consultant for elected officials and nonprofit organizations involved criminal justice reform.

De la Rocha is also the founder of Revolve Impact, a social impact firm that aims to build progressive mass movements and campaigns. But he doesn’t credit the RV tour as his firm’s doing. Instead, he describes it as a gathering of like-minded artists using their celebrity on behalf of Sanders’ candidacy.

De la Rocha recounted going to a park in a town south of San Diego known for high rates of addiction and open drug abuse.

“We went there purposely and Bernie met us there,” De la Rocha explained. “It was an interesting thing. The residents there were coming and asking for T-shirts, not so much because they were for Bernie but because they were homeless and needed new clothes.”

From there, the caravan traveled to Stockton, a city de la Rocha noted as having one of the highest murder rates in the state. De la Rocha said they stopped there because of the work nonprofit organizations and community members are doing to reclaim their neighborhoods.

“We went there because…despite the violence and madness, we have this beautiful community reclaiming their livelihood, and so we had this beautiful ceremony of black and brown and formerly incarcerated… it was really like a healing ceremony.”

After San Jose, de la Rocha noted they went to Union City and Hayward, where the Clinton campaign had opened 10 new offices.

“What we’ve seen throughout this tour… there are community residents who may not have a lot of money but have a lot of heart,” De la Rocha said. “So we’ve been going into people’s homes—[homes] that has been serving as [campaign] offices. People are going to Starbucks to meet up and do phone banking there. We talked to 40 to 50 volunteers.”

De la Rocha recounted their experience in San Jose where they met with 150 urban Native American youth “from everywhere, from Pine Ridge reservation to Oakland and San Francisco.”

De la Rocha recounted youth asking, “Why should we vote for Bernie? We’ve been lied to more than anyone else [and] survived attempted genocide by the U.S. government. And you’re asking us to believe in a candidate.”

“It’s obvious that this movement is bigger than Bernie Sanders,” De la Rocha said.

He noted this encapsulates the issues addressed by Black Lives Matter, migrant’s rights movements, federal $15 hour minimum wage and the anti-carceral movement, the anti-bank and anti-foreclosure movement.

De la Rocha explained that the movement that envelopes the Sanders campaign is one that is tapping into all of these movements and elevating them in the current political conversation. He suggested that Sanders’ campaign appeals to those who have been let down and left out of the Obama administration’s message of hope.

“Whoever wins, we still have to hold them accountable,” De la Rocha said.

In a context in which Americans are told hundreds of millions, even billions of dollars are required to run an election campaign, de la Rocha called the Sanders campaign the first in human history with a record-breaking campaign funded by donations of $27 per individual.

De la Rocha didn’t speak on the difference between President Barack Obama and Sanders, but according to OpenSecrets.org, during Obama’s 2008 campaign, he raised as much money from small individual donors as he did from large ones. In his 2012 campaign, about a third of his fundraising totals came from small individual donors.

On the other hand, nearly two-thirds of Sanders’ campaign cash has come from small individual donors. That’s reason enough to believe that June 7 will not be the end for Sanders.

The Senator from Vermont is scheduled to meet with President Obama Thursday to discuss the future, but those truly feeling the “Bern” are probably looking to carry the message to more local elections moving forward.

“The beautiful part of what we’ve done and what happening across the country and around the world is that people are starting to realize their own innate power,” de la Rocha said. “They are realizing that everything is local.”

De la Rocha said the Sander’s campaign is about political consciousness raising and organizing.

“What’s the next phase? It’s whatever the community decides the next phase is,” de la Rocha said. “You can’t unlearn what you’ve learned.”

The activist-artist noted that the people he encountered over previous four days kept asking him what to do next.

“How should I know?” he said. “You tell us how we can help you.”

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