“Bernie Sanders is the only candidate to send volunteers to campaign for him into the projects.” As my friend Grace and I treaded through the snowy, hilly streets of Manchester, New Hampshire, we came across this middle-aged woman who had just returned from her polling location for the February 9 New Hampshire Primary. She explained that she voted for Senator Sanders because three other Sanders volunteers had been to her apartment just this past week. She was passionate when she talked about Bernie, as if she believed that Bernie actually cared about her as an individual. “The projects” of Manchester, New Hampshire have hope in Senator Sanders as our next commander in chief. The question is why aren’t other candidates taking the time to campaign in this woman’s neighborhood? Another woman earlier that same day slowed down her car and rolled down her window to ask, “Why do all of these people want my vote? They don’t even come out to the projects. Only Bernie Sanders.” These two women, living in a low-income, secluded apartment complex that they refer to as “the projects”, each referenced Mr. Sanders as a unique and understanding candidate for them personally. They are ready for a political revolution. They are tired of politicians ignoring their circumstances. Senator Sanders appeals to constituents because of his platform to distribute the wealth more equally and to take away Wall Street’s wealth and power to help the poor in our nation. He promises in every speech that he will focus on the wealth gap and the socioeconomic disparities in this country. Before Wake The Voters went to our respective candidate’s headquarters on February 9, Dr. Harris-Perry started a collaborative discussion on which issues we think are the most prevalent in the 2016 election. The wide variety of answers, ranging from national security to income inequality to police brutality that came up in our discussion just show the unique experiences each student has entered Wake The Vote with. Dr. Harris-Perry reminded us to focus on each candidate’s strategies and which issues they choose to focus on. Especially in the case of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, I find their stances on immigration issues particularly fascinating as they both have Latino, specifically Cuban, backgrounds.
At Senator Sanders’ campaign headquarters, myself and five other Wake Forest students were greeted by a kind, hipster young man who explained how to canvas and split us into groups of three. Grace and I were grouped with a sweet, middle-aged woman, who drove us to the neighborhood that we were assigned to canvas in that day. In the 15 minute car ride, she told us that she had driven 5 hours from New York to volunteer for Bernie Sanders on NH Primary day. She explained why she supports Senator Sanders and mentioned his genuine character and experience in Vermont. Seeing the support for Senator Sanders in this low-income neighborhood opened my eyes to the way Sanders is portraying himself on the radio and in his political commercials. If this neighborhood is primarily Democratic, why are there more Sanders supporters than Clinton supporters? How are they running their campaigns differently? With so much experience in the American political sphere, why isn’t Hillary Clinton beating Sanders by a large margin?
The most eye-opening part of this whole NH trip was witnessing how passionate Sanders’ volunteers are on the campaign trail. They work tirelessly for many hours each day to spread Bernie’s message and platform. Another woman we met while getting out the vote was an elderly lady from Oregon who said that she has been campaigning for Bernie for months. Nurses for Bernie, a group that travels around the United States to campaign for Senator Sanders came out to canvass on primary day as well. They have their own Bernie Sanders decked out bus and everything. These passionate volunteers are the back bone of Bernie’s whole campaign. This is democracy at its finest. Overall, it was a wonderful experience to work on Bernie’s campaign. I felt like I was a part of a significant, powerful movement, surrounded by hardworking, dedicated Americans. Going door-to-door in an unfamiliar city to collect data and further Senator Sanders’ message was an opportunity that I am very grateful to have experienced. Engaging with the American public in such a hands-on, interactive, grass roots way gives me hope for our nation. As a country, we must strive to connect with our neighbors and fellow Americans in order to prosper. Bernie’s campaign understands the significance of our nation’s diversity and simultaneous unity. And to watch the NH poll results flood in with Senator Sanders pulling a 20% victory over Secretary Clinton, I was overjoyed. It was a victory for the Students for Bernie, Nurses for Bernie, and everyone in NH seemed to be “feeling the Bern”.
February 10, 2016