Bates loves Bernie. From the native Vermonters to the environmentally and socially conscious people on campus, people at Bates seem to gravitate towards the fire of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ campaign, close enough to feel the Bern.
This weekend, Bates for Bernie, a subgroup of the Bates Democrats, will head into New Hampshire going door to door to share Bernie’s message. Bates for Bernie works alongside multiple New Hampshire Bernie offices and his Portland, Maine, office. According to Bates Dems member and canvassing coordinator Will Bryer ’16, his campaign puts on these volunteer events every weekend. There is also a Bates for Hillary Clinton group, but “the [Bates Democrats] club doesn’t endorse either candidate” officially, Bryer said.
“We’ve chosen to wait to endorse a candidate until after primary season,” added Bates Democrats Co-President Carly Peruccio ’16. “There are members of the Bates Dems who support Hillary, Bernie, and O’Malley, and there are others who haven’t decided yet.”
Peruccio hopes volunteer efforts like this one will help involve more Bates students in the presidential election. “We serve the role of connecting politically engaged students with others who share the same aims,” she added.
Students are able to organize their own initiatives—this event was spearheaded at Bates by Bryer. “At the end of the day, we’re united by our shared commitment to electing progressive candidates at the presidential, congressional, and local levels,” Peruccio said.
With Bernie currently one point ahead of Hillary in Iowa and bounding ahead in New Hampshire, the Bates Dems believe that Sanders remains a viable candidate.
“Speaking from the Bates for Bernie group,” Bryer said, “we definitely think he has a chance! His message is clearly resonating with people, as shown by his massive increase in support in key primary states, and the historic, record-breaking number of small donors contributing to his campaign.”
Candidate Sanders has a particular appeal among college-aged voters. According to the Boston Globe, young voters prefer Sanders by a 2-to-1 ratio. Junior Ben Pratt helps to articulate why Bernie has so much pull with college-aged voters.
“He appeals to our economic situation as millennials,” Pratt said. “With Hillary, there is nothing wrong with her thought process or policies. She just doesn’t take as clear of a stance on us that Bernie does. Currently [as Bates students], we may not be marginalized when we enter the job market, but we have seen people in the past ten years that have been. The only way to fix that is to divorce the economic system within politics completely, and Bernie seems to speak to that.”
Sanders’ website illustrates his plans to help college students—to establish free tuition for public colleges and universities, to drastically cut interest rates on student loans and to increase work study programs and need-based financial aid.
If you are interested in Bernie and wish to attend this weekend’s opportunity, please contact Will Bryer.