Pointing his finger in passion and speaking ever so charismatically, Bernie wasn’t pulling any punches at his rally this past Saturday. I kneeled in front of his podium snapping photos during the first ten minutes of his speech. When the Senator from Vermont called the House bill “the most anti-working-class piece legislation passed by the House of Representatives in the modern history of this country” and called the Senate one “even worse,” I could not help but look away from my camera and look up at the extraordinarily passionate man speaking from his heart to defend our health care.
Roughly one thousand people were in the audience for the Don’t Take Away Our Healthcare Rally. The event took place at the David L. Lawerence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, PA. The accommodations for people with disabilities were sensational: a sign language translator, a closed off handicap accessible section for attendees with disabilities, and chairs for the elderly. The crowd was diverse but everyone shared several core beliefs about the disaster that is Trump Care.
There were times when the room of one thousand felt like a room of 30 thousand. The name “Pat Toomey” always solicited a strong response. Just mentioning the Senator from Pennsylvania’s name made the entire crowd erupt into a choir of boos. When Sanders entered the stage, there was an eruption of applause, whistles, and cheering. This applause was present throughout his speech. While Bernie stole the show, the crowd’s energy was definitely a high point.
I had the privilege to interview several of these attendees before the event started.
I interviewed a man named Michael Hill first. He was standing up straight charismatically wearing an “Explore PA” shirt. “I believe everybody should have healthcare available to them, and it’s possible for our administration to do that if they use the right resources,” Hill said with sincerity and passion.”I’m here to support healthcare for all, that’s all. When I asked about his largest concerns regarding this bill, he brought up some very agreeable and interesting concerns: “The lack of accessibility to the people that can’t afford it, and the pharmaceutical companies that charge exorbitant amounts for people’s medicine and they can’t afford it.”
Next, I interviewed a lady named Abigail Mason. She was wearing a Women’s March shirt and had the same passionate aura that Hill. had. When I asked her why she decided to attend the rally, she simply said that the “cuts to healthcare in Trump Care affect [her] job” and that she wanted to make sure that the people she represents “get the best care that they deserve and that they can get.” She added that the GOP bill “won’t give them that care.” She also said that the part of this bill which concerns her the most are the “cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.”
The last person I interviewed before the event started was Adam Shuck. Adam is the Co-Chairman of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. He was standing on the right side of the convention hall floor, holding a banner. When I had asked why he attended the rally, he said that the Republicans are attacking the “marginal gains we made on a robust healthcare system under Obamacare.” He added that he wanted to “meet Pittsburghers and people from the area who are concerned about their healthcare, as they have a right to be.”
Shuck called the bill “morally apprehensible” and “horrific,” and stated that we are moving in the wrong direction He acknowledged that we should instead “be expanding and making our healthcare more robust.” When I asked him what is at stake, he replied “I mean, the neighborhood I live in, the city I live in, the country I live in are at stake. The lives of millions and millions of people are at stake.” His eyes widened as he made one last point:”I want to live in a society where we allow people to get access to healthcare and not die because they do not have the right job or can’t afford the bills”
Lawmakers heard the abundance of emotion that this crowd had. The amount of energy from this rally and the others hosted by Senator Sanders helped to halt this disaster of a bill. Trump is still trying to rally lawmakers to repeal the ACA, so our work is not done.
View more of my pictures below.