By Ken Stone
Ramona Irwinsays she returned from the Democratic National Convention “more inspired and fired up” than upon her arrival — as a Bernie Sanders delegate from the 50th Congressional District.
Wednesday night, next to the long driveway of her El Cajon home, Irwin served carnitas, veggies, nachos and a big plate of revolution.
Hers was among the 2,600 house parties across the country live-streaming “Our Revolution,” the kickoff of a drive intended to channel Sanders diehards’ pent-up energy. Nearly two dozen people attended her event on Marline Avenue not far from El Cajon Valley High School.
“I didn’t hear anything I didn’t already know,” Irwin said of the speeches from Burlington, Vermont. “Bernie isn’t a man. He’s a movement.”
How fired up?
Last week she filed to run for school board. She’ll seek a seat in the Cajon Valley Union School District — just as Sanders urged in his 50-minute talk Wednesday night.
A 44-year-old divorced mother of a 16-year-old son, Irwin will list herself as a “community organizer/student.” She’s starting her senior year as a social welfare major at San Diego State University. Earlier, she lived in Ocean Beach and worked 15 years in real estate.
She calls where she lives OB East, or Obeast, and “I’m going to work my tail off to get this movement going,” planning monthly meetings and various “Bernie Brigade” events.
But not everyone downing a beer and dipping guacamole was ready to sign up.
Bob Gazerro of Borrego Springs, a silver-haired 62-year-old, said Sanders had disappointed him, squandering an opportunity to ignite change.
Had Sanders “walked out” of the Philadelphia convention, instead of endorsing Hillary Clinton, “he would have doubled his supporters in less than an hour,” Gazerro said. “Revolution is not about compromise.”
As a “Bernie or Bust” man, Gazerro said he would have “walked off a bridge for that guy.”
But Sanders turned into a “phony revolutionary,” said the retired optical physics expert, wearing a 1960s-style tie-dyed shirt. “I suspect in less than two years, [Bernie’s movement] will turn out to be political nostalgia.”
So now what will he do?
“I’m on the Trump Train,” Gazerro said. “The system is so broken.”
A longer view was held by David Burnight of Crest, 91, who said he’s been involved in movements before. He recounted marching to Montgomery, Alabama, with Martin Luther King Jr. after the Selma violence of 1965.
A former engineer and campus chaplain at UC Davis and San Diego State (28 years, retiring in 1994), Burnight recalled taking students to Nicaragua in 1981 to interview people connected with the Sandinista revolution of the late 1970s.
He’s also disappointed that Democrats nominated Clinton, but saw little choice: “We’ve never had a crackpot like Trump.”
Before Sanders and designated leaders of “Our Revolution” spoke, Burnight said: “I’m a pessimist. I don’t think my grandkids will be in a livable world. The seas may well die.”
Irwin, the viewing party host, was the optimist — even talking about how Patrick Malloy, a “Berniecrat 100 percent,” had a chance of defeating four-term GOP incumbent Rep. Duncan D. Hunter. (Republicans make up nearly 45 percent of the district’s registered voters against 27 percent Democrats.)
“The guy is awesome,” she said of the Democrat. “He will be here on Sept. 4.”
But Irwin didn’t want to delve into who the Sanders faithful will support in the November election.
Having smuggled “Over the Hill” banners onto the convention floor and done a lot of networking, Irwin recalled the “infighting” over who to back in the wake of Clinton’s “coronation.”
“It was so emotional,” she said, calling others’ presidential vote “a personal decision.”
As for Irwin: “I’ll be writing in Bernie Sanders.”
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