A few dozen Bernie Sanders supporters looked to keep the night going when, after the Democratic presidential debate on Thursday, they went over to the Press Club in Sacramento to dance and raise money for their candidate.
Greeting them on the sidewalk was a Sanders volunteer, Christopher Ray, who smoked a cigarette and showed off his “Feel the Bern” tattoo – but also a chapter of socialists hoping, for their first event in Sacramento, to take advantage of a sympathetic crowd.
“We’re trying to expand the message,” said Jake Simon, a member of Socialist Alternative who, during work hours, is Gov. Jerry Brown’s administrative assistant.
Socialists in the United States hold conflicting views of Sanders, the Vermont senator and Democratic socialist. Though Sanders emphasizes income inequality, his view that government should not own the means of production is for some socialists a disqualifier.
But the Socialist Alternative, a group that helped elect socialist Kshama Sawant to Seattle’s city council in 2013, is embracing the Vermont senator. Simon, 24, praised the candidate for forcing political discourse to the left, and he said, “We know how to grab an ally when we see one.”
Inside the bar, organizers of the “fundraiser dance party” for Sanders were waiting for more people to arrive before asking them to donate to his campaign on their cell phones.
On the sidewalk, Simon and his colleagues were distributing literature and selling buttons.
Simon’s girlfriend, the group’s treasurer, slid a baggie containing a few bills beneath a stack of papers.
“We’re not fancy capitalists,” Simon said. “We don’t have a gold-rimmed money box.”