Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has never been a pop culture aficionado. In one memorable essay penned in 1979, he accused the television industry of using the medium "to intentionally brainwash people into submission and helplessness" in order "to create a nation of morons."
But when the insurgent presidential candidate traveled to Los Angeles Monday night, he got a little help from a star of the small screen: comedian Sarah Silverman. The New Hampshire native introduced her fellow New Englander to a crowd of 17,500 people packed inside the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena for another of Sanders' signature mega-rallies.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I give you — if we're all very smart and a little bit lucky — the next president of the United States: Sen. Bernie Sanders," Silverman said to the cheering throng.
Earlier Monday, the Vermonter touched down in Oakland to accept an endorsement from the 185,000-member National Nurses United. It was the first such nod he's received from a national labor union. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, NNU executive director RoseAnne DeMoro "praised Sanders as the only candidate to align with nurses on issues such as a single-payer health care system, income inequality, 'holding Wall Street accountable' and climate change."
“He’s the real, real deal,” DeMoro said. The union’s members made their choice based on candidates’ responses to a questionnaire. “You name it, he’s there for us — the poll was overwhelming for him.”
In addition to the 17,500 people who entered the Los Angeles arena Monday evening, Sanders' campaign said another 10,000 watched the event from an overflow area outside. Silverman warmed up the crowd with a mix of humor and earnestness.
"Rick Perry gave me these glasses," she began, referring to the newly bespectacled, former governor of Texas. "He said it would make me look smarty-er."
"You know, I feel weird using words like values and morals, because those are words that have been co-opted by people who wear them as shrouds to justify terrible things, like bigotry and greed," she said. "I'd like to take those words back tonight and use them to describe Bernie Sanders."
Arguing that Sanders "always seems to be on the right side of history," Silverman cited his support for civil rights in the 1960s and for gay rights in the 1980s.
"He was against the Iraq War, against the deregulation of Wall Street that led to the 2008 crash and, most importantly, against the breakup of Destiny's Child," she said.
Whether or not Sanders had ever heard of Destiny's Child prior to the event could not immediately be ascertained.
"He's a man of the people. He has to be. His name is Bernie," Silverman said. "And he's a man for the people. He has to be. He's from Vermont."