With the presidential primaries in our midst presidential campaigners and supporters are wondering “What is the next step?”
This question among others was discussed by Florida State students and community members who want Bernie Sanders this past Saturday evening at the Moore Auditorium. It is crunch time for the Democratic candidate and his followers.
The virtual town hall meeting (or rally) was connected to thousands of similar events around the country by webcams. As the attendees sat in front of a projector like hundreds of other advocates, Sanders’ supporters discussed how they can ultimately get the candidate get into the White House. The gathering in Tallahassee was orchestrated by FSU’s club, Noles Want Bernie, and their President Neil Spencer.
The senior Political Science and International Affairs major, started the club in August, and has gained hundreds of followers along the way. While there are 550 people in the group and 30 to 40 participants, there are 1,109 members on the Noles Want Bernie Facebook.
“Noles want [Sanders] because he has been a consistent voice in Washington DC. You can’t find somebody that has consistently been saying the same things about poverty, about American foreign blunders, [and everything] that is going on in the world,” Spencer said.
Some of Sanders’ stances and policies include free tuition and medicare for all, lessening the gap between the rich and poor, increasing the minimum wage and overturning Citizens United.
“The Sanders campaign is ‘We want to talk about the issues that affect America, we want to talk about what’s wrong, what our remedies are and what we think the best vision for America is’ I can latch onto that. If you are going to talk in generalities, then I don’t understand what your vision is,” Spencer said.
Obviously, not everyone can latch onto Sanders’ ideals. Brent Canada, Economics and Business major, created the Noles For Trump club at FSU. He believes in the Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, and his plan to “Make America Great Again.”
“Trump is a highly successful guy. Politicians have put us in the mess we are in today. [Trump] is the only candidate who cannot be bought. He is the only one without donors to answer to,” Canada said.
Immigration reform, tax reform, second amendment rights and Veterans Administration reform are just a slice of what Trump advocates for.
“[Sanders] wants to expand government power, making people less free, and punish people for reaching the top (which is ultimately the American dream). This country was built on working hard and moving up, not taking government handouts and redistributing wealth,” Canada said.
Even though the two groups are fighting for polar opposite candidates, the members of Noles Want Bernie and Noles For Trump are “cordial,” according to Spencer.
“I hate bullies and I feel as though people like Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, and Hillary Clinton are bullies and I hate that. I’ve seen it my entire life, I’ve experienced it myself and I think that’s what [drew me] to Sander’s campaign,” Spencer said.
The Noles Want Bernie group have experienced negativity and maltreatment from bullies as well. One night after they held light up “Bernie 2016” signs in front of the Capitol building, the signs were taken out of group members’ hands, thrown and stomped on by people in front of the downtown bar, Clyde’s.
“[Sanders] speaks the truth and he’s never disparaged someone because of their ideals. He’s a breath of fresh air in that sort of way,” Spencer said.
Sanders supporter or not, Spencer hopes that voters of any ideology get involved and engaged in the election.
“People need to reclaim their voice. You see all the bad shit that’s going on in the world and you want to belly and moan about it and say there is nothing we can do about it,” Spencer said, “I hate the people that just put their head in the sand and say, ‘Well nothing can get done,’ because you don’t think it can get done. It’s a self-defeating prophecy.”
As the campaigns are heating up and the day Americans know who will be running their country gets closer, citizens are beginning to see the candidates clearly and are taking a stance. With candidate endorsements happening left and right, and after the results of the Iowa caucus, anything could happen from here.
By Allison Kridle / Intern Writer