On February 27 about 900 Bernie Sanders supporters gathered for a rally at the Wexner Center Plaza on the OSU campus and marched to Goodale Park.

On February 27 Bernie Sanders supporters gathered for a rally at the Wexner Center Plaza on the OSU campus and marched to Goodale Park.

“Are you tired of the 1 percent making more than the bottom half of this country?” asked Troy Harris, an activist with Central Ohio Grassroots for Bernie Sanders. “Are you tired of corporate-owned Democrats and Republicans who are controlling our legislative interests? Are you tired of Starbucks and Wal-Mart decimating our communities?

“I’ve got a candidate for you,” he said. “His name is Bernie Sanders.”

Harris was speaking to a crowd of about 900 Sanders supporters at the Wexner Center Plaza on the Ohio State University campus on February 27, a few days after a Sanders campaign office opened on East Main Street in Columbus.

Many of the speakers at the rally emphasized the local implications of Bernie Sanders’ national platform. CWA Local 4501 president Kevin Kee brought the focus directly to OSU and the university’s privatization of much of its workforce.

“They outsourced the parking here, and now pay employees $8 an hour,” Kee said. “You can’t raise a family on $8 an hour. You can’t buy a car on $8 an hour. Are we in a race to the absolute bottom of the wage scale, or do we believe that there should be a living wage?

“What happens to a family when a father and mother are working two or three jobs just to pay rent?” Kee asked. “You can’t raise a child. You can’t give them good values.”

Sadie Hughes-Young is a registered nurse at the Cincinnati VA Medical Center and VA director for National Nurses United. “If a loved one has gone to the hospital lately, you may have to stay there with your family and help provide some of the care because there are not enough nurses at the bedside,” she said. “Bernie Sanders has supported a nurse/patient ratio that makes it safe for you and your loved ones when you go into the hospital.

“Bernie Sanders believes in Medicare for all,” Hughes-Young said. “Right now, if you’re in a health plan you’re paying an astronomical price. When you go to the hospital, they tell you that many of the services you need are not covered, so you have to pay out of pocket. We’re being robbed by our leaders because they are supported by super PACs.

Hughes-Young was sharply critical of the Clinton legacy. “I am a natural citizen of Arkansas,” she said. “Bill Clinton was our governor for 12 years. When he became governor there were many jobs, with people earning living wages. At the end of his tenure, all of the opportunities were gone.”

After President Clinton signed NAFTA “our jobs went elsewhere,” Hughes-Young said. “We had the highest unemployment that this nation has ever known. We had families who were homeless that had never been homeless before. You decide if you want more of the Clinton years, or if you’re ready for something new.”

Will Petrik of the group Yes We Can Columbus is one of dozens of candidates running for the Franklin County Democratic Central Committee.  The organization wants to move the local Democratic Party to the left, working from the bottom up for the same goals that Sanders wants to achieve from the top down.  “This is about mass participation,” Petrik said. “Our broken political system is not going to change unless every single one of us changes our lives.”

This isn’t just about the March 15th primary in Ohio, Petrik said. “None of this is going to change unless all of us continue to stand up, continue to fight for all of the things Bernie is talking about. Our political system is rigged. Our economic system is rigged. Bernie Sanders has the vision to get money out of politics and bring our democracy back.

 “In Columbus we have a huge opportunity,” he said. “What if we asked City Council for a $15 minimum wage? Do you think they’d listen to us?  They’re not listening to us right now. That’s the vision of Yes We Can Columbus: to push for all the things Bernie is pushing for at the local level.”

“We’re trying to turn the corrupt Franklin County Democratic Party around,” said Dale Snyder, senior pastor at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, who is another candidate running for the Democratic Central Committee. “When they can select our leaders without our input, it’s corrupt.”

 “Bernie has been saying that he supports single-payer, universal health care for every person in America,” said Ohio State Senator Mike Skindell (D-Lakewood). “He’s been fighting for a $15 minimum wage, and for any person who wants a college education to have it.

“The other side has been saying that we can’t have universal health care, just because we can’t. We can’t get the $15 minimum wage. It’s not pragmatic.

“When there is no vision, there is no hope,” Skindell said. “There is only despair.”

“Revolution has never been something that just happens on its own,” said Mayo Makinde, candidate for Ohio State Representative District 25. “People have to rise up. We have to challenge the idea that money can speak as much as people.”

 “We’ve had enough of spending trillions on wars and not taking care of our veterans,” said Kyle Landis of Socialist Alternative. “Enough of insurance companies profiting from our illnesses while we are going bankrupt. Enough of banks being bailed out while we get sold out. Enough of banks too big to fail and CEOs too big to jail.

 “In this system, education is a luxury for the rich and indentured servitude for the poor. We live under the dictatorship of Wall Street,” Landis said.  “The differences between Bernie and Hillary are clear when we ask one simple question: whose side are you on? Corporate Democrats want you to believe that Republicans are the reason why you don’t have a living wage, why you don’t have stronger unions. Yet nearly every major city, including Columbus, is controlled by the Democratic Party.

“A $15 an hour minimum wage didn’t become a reality until Socialist Alterative fought for it in Seattle and won,” Landis said. “Socialist Alternative, 15 Now, and other grassroots organizations like Yes We Can Columbus are the reason why 14 other cities now have a living wage. The corporate Democrats are not going to give us $15. The people must demand it! Martin Luther King once said, ‘Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.’ We must struggle for 15, and against the billionaire class.”

After the rally the crowd marched down North High Street to Goodale Park. As they passed through the Short North the marchers stopped at Bollinger Tower, which is being acquired for development by an investor group, displacing its low-income residents. Marchers chanted, “Revolution on High Street!”

“We need a revolution on High Street,” said community organizer Rubén Castilla Herrera. “The revolution also has to be on South Parsons Avenue, on Sullivant Avenue, and in the Bottoms, where the people live!”

Scenes from the #March4Bernie in Columbus.