Ahead of Super Tuesday, the Vanguard spoke with five political organizations on campus to get their take on the 2016 campaign and the upcoming Alabama primary.
Bernie Sanders’ beliefs and methods have struck a chord with people across America, as he campaigns for the Democratic nomination for president.
Many college students have taken special interest in Sanders, and his plan for free college tuition may have something to do with that. However, this is just one facet of Sanders’ political platform.
Sanders is well-represented on campus by South Alabama’s “Students for Bernie Sanders” Club.
“We have offered a safe and opinion friendly environment for all students, Bernie Sanders supporter or not,” Katlin Woodson, Secretary of the South Alabama Students for Bernie Sanders Club, said.
Woodson said she appreciates Sanders’ consistency.
“Bernie has stood firmly behind his beliefs since first becoming a politician,” Woodson said. “He has never sided with the popular vote just because it was popular, but always what he felt was the right vote.”
Mari Ponder, President of the Students for Bernie Sanders Club, said she has complete trust in Sanders. Sanders voted against the Iraq war, he supports the Black Lives Matter movement and he does not take money from the billionaire class.
“He has more than experience doing a job – he has experience making good decisions as an elected official,” Ponder said.
Ponder and Woodson are two different individuals who support the same candidate.
Ponder, 39-years-old, is in her second semester of the MPA Program at South, and Woodson, 19-years-old, is a sophomore majoring in psychology. Their personal opinions of Sanders are based on their knowledge of his campaign and policies.
Sanders’ policies range from free college tuition to the legalization of marijuana.
“I like Bernie’s position on Medicare for all,” Ponder said. “I agree with him that healthcare should be a right, and not a privilege. I believe working harder should get you a nicer car or a fancier house, not the ability to see a doctor when you are sick. It is a matter of principle.”
His stance on Wall Street has particularly raised some eyebrows, mostly among Republicans.
“I agree with him about Wall Street speculators paying a tax to make public college education tuition free,” Ponder said. “I think the word ‘speculators’ is particularly important, and often overlooked. He is talking about taxing people when they buy or sell stock… Speculators are people that are basically gambling on the stock market, or ‘playing it’ they make high risk investments in the name of quick profits.”
Ponder said Sanders has proposed a five cent tax on every one hundred dollars traded on Wall Street.
“Does that seem unreasonable?” she said. “We bailed out Wall Street.”
Sanders has millions of supporters, but his challenger, Hillary Clinton, is polling better and has won the Iowa and Nevada caucus.
“Those ‘wins’ for Clinton were by narrow margins – close enough to even call a virtual tie in Iowa,” Ponder said. “Sanders did so much better in New Hampshire because they have open polls from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. like we do in Alabama. When more people have a greater opportunity to vote, I think Bernie Sanders will do better.”
Why is Sanders a better candidate for the presidency?
“While Bernie is at his rallies giving speeches on how he plans to better this country, Hillary is giving out free concerts and bringing out popular allies,” Woodson said. “She has tried to turn this election into a popularity contest.”
Ponder referenced Sanders’ consistency. She mentioned that Sanders voted against the Iraq war, while Clinton voted for it but later said she made a mistake.
“They say hindsight is 20/20,” Ponder said. “I want a president that has foresight.”
Woodson said she has advice for the unregistered voters.
“Get out there and inform yourself,” she said. “Do not go off opinions or let anyone influence you. Know what you stand for, and support the candidate whose views best align with yours.”
The primary election in Alabama is March 1. What is the next step for USA Students for Bernie Sanders if their candidate wins the primary election?
“We are going to tell people about Bernie, we are going to help people get registered to vote, and we are going to encourage people to participate in the political process,” Ponder said.