Bernie urges youth to vote

JOSHUA DAUSENER, Staff Writer

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UNI received an end-of-election surprise from the Hillary Clinton campaign on Friday afternoon: a visit from Vermont senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

Sanders drew a crowd of over 300 people as he spoke on the Maucker Union rooftop. Northern Iowa Democrats President and junior political science major Jackson Ave said the event was originally scheduled to take place in the Maucker Union Ballroom but was moved to the rooftop due to the high expected turnout.

Sanders spoke on a variety of issues, including voter suppression, campaign finance reform, raising the minimum wage, unions, pay equity for women, paid family and medical leave, healthcare, trade deals, education, climate change and taxes. Sanders also strongly urged UNI students to get involved with politics, both during the election and beyond.

“The people who have money in this country, the people who own a lot of our economy, who are trying to buy the United States government – the billionaires who have endless amounts of money – you know what they want?” Sanders said to the crowd. “They want young people to think politics is irrelevant. They want you busy out partying, ‘Oh politics is all BS, no one pays any attention, let’s ignore it, we got other things to do with our lives.’”

Sanders continued his argument by emphasizing the large role government plays in American life, including availability of decent jobs, climate change and the availability of healthcare.

“Please do not let your friends tell you, ‘Oh I’m too busy, I’m not going to vote, who cares?’ That is what the billionaire class wants,” Sanders said. “Because at the end of the day, they want to be able to control not only our economy, but our political life as well. And together, we’ve got to stand up to them and say, ‘Sorry, you will not get it all. This country belongs to all of us.’”

Sanders took several shots at Republican nominee Donald Trump while speaking on Clinton’s behalf. Sanders slammed Trump’s stances on trade, climate change, immigration and Trump’s admission of not paying federal income taxes.

“Mr. Trump, as some of you may know [and] some of you may not, after all of his rhetoric about trade and outsourcing, he has factories in Bangladesh where he pays workers 33 cents an hour,” Sanders said. “He manufactures his clothing line in China and in Mexico, and his furniture in Turkey. So I say to Mr. Trump: stop giving speeches. Bring those jobs back to the United States of America!”

Ave said Sanders came to UNI because of the divisiveness that appeared to still exist between Sanders and Clinton supporters.

“We were able to get Bernie Sanders to come here because we knew a lot of our campus felt divided, especially during the Iowa Caucus,” Ave said.

The Clinton campaign sent Sanders to mend old wounds and to stir up support for the Democratic nominee.

Sanders handily defeated then-rival Hillary Clinton at UNI during the Iowa Caucuses on Feb. 1, besting her 5-1 in the delegate count in both UNI precincts.

Where the support of Sanders voters would go has been a story throughout the election cycle. An August poll from USA Today indicated the majority of former Sanders supporters would vote for Clinton. In the poll, 71 percent of former Sanders supporters said they would vote for Clinton, 11 percent said they would vote for Donald Trump and the remaining 17 percent either didn’t know or wouldn’t vote. Third party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein were not included in the poll. No recent polling has been done on the subject.

Sophomore psychology and communication double major Claire Guderjahn said she is a “diehard Bernie Sanders fan,” but quickly decided to vote for Clinton after the Democratic primary.

“I was able to choose Clinton over Trump right away,” Guderjahn said. “Of course I’d prefer Sanders, but given my options, I think this was best.” Guderjahn cited women’s rights and availability of birth control as important issues to her.

Alexander Fox, sophomore computer science major, was a pro-Sanders precinct captain during the caucuses. Fox said he invested many hours into volunteering for the Sanders campaign. Fox was disappointed by the result of the primary but eventually moved to Clinton’s side.

“To quote Cornel West, Clinton is a ‘neoliberal disaster,’ and I would much rather have voted for Jill Stein,” Fox said. “But your vote actually means something in Iowa, and Trump could send progressive movements back 10 to 15 years with his choices for Supreme Court judges.”

Fox said he has already voted for Clinton, but added, “I went home to take a shower because I felt dirty.”

Sanders was introduced by former Senator Tom Harkin. Also in attendance were Democratic candidates Jeff Danielson, Gary Kroeger, Bob Kressig and Chris Schwartz.

Pre-rally entertainment was provided by Cedar Falls based band Dishwater Blonde. The band played several songs, including a song with improvised lyrics called, “We Love Bernie Sanders.”

Election day is this Tuesday, Nov. 8. Polling stations are open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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