Written by: Cody Neuenschwander, Franci Mara, Samantha Whiting
Volunteers, some of them IPFW students, gathered in the Bernie Sanders campaign headquarters on Wells Street in Fort Wayne April 26, as they prepared to go out into the community to knock on doors to garner more support for Sanders.
A poll by Harvard University found that 54 percent of those between 18-29 had a favorable opinion of 74-year-old Sanders, a democratic Presidential candidate.
According to Dr. Michael Wolf, professor of political science at IPFW, Sanders’ appeal to young people comes from his “anti-establishment” views.
“Younger voters have grown up in a time of political polarization, that has led them to potentially view politics as being especially negative,” Wolf said. “He’s [Sanders] talking about reform, and moving things that they associate with causing that.”
Those things include money in politics and social inequality, which Wolf said young people view as part of what has led to political polarization.
Another of Sanders’ policies that has been viewed favorably by young people is his claim of free tuition for public universities. However, according to Wolf, Sanders would still have the young vote without that policy.
Janelle Hall, president of the IPFW organization Students for Bernie, held a social event for Sanders supporters at the Fort Wayne coffee shop Firefly on April 19.
The event brought more than just IPFW students. In fact, according to Hall, only a few of the estimated 15 people that showed up were students. Many of them fell into the under 30 demographic.
Hall asked everyone who showed up to stand and say why they support Sanders. Some spoke of Sanders’ political policies; others spoke of his opposition to inequality. An overarching theme, however, was the consistency in his message throughout his political career.
Dria Kirkpatrick, a Sanders supporter, has never volunteered for a presidential candidate before. But, for Sanders, she has gone door-to-door and made telephone calls in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana.
“I truly believe he’s just a voice that covers everyone, no matter if you’re old, no matter if you’re young,” Kirkpatrick said.
Rebecca Burton, another local Sanders supporter, has also never volunteered for a candidate until now.
“I was uninvolved completely. I felt like I didn’t have a voice,” Burton said. “I was just going to vote Democrat because I liked the policies better, but I didn’t actually volunteer for any candidate until now.”
Burton said she is impressed with Sanders’s activism in the past, specifically pointing out his support of the civil rights movement.
“He’s been fighting so hard for us, I can’t just sit back and not fight for him,” Burton said.
She also said that young people want their own place in the government.
“We’re the ones starting this new way of thinking,” Burton said. “We want our government to be for us, and not for money.”
After losing key states in the primary elections to Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, Sanders announced he is considering cutting back on his campaign staff to reserve his resources and elongate his campaign.
According to Wolf, Sanders is behind Clinton in the Indiana polls. Sanders is visiting the IPFW campus Monday and Indiana primaries are on May 3.