A citizen movement committed to restoring Vermont to an independent republic, free to pursue life, liberty and happiness unimpeded by the demands of an imperial, corrupt and disintegrating United States.
Voting season in Vermont will be here before we know it, and according to our Saint Michael’s website, 82% of students come from out of state. Registering to vote or even remembering to vote in November does not happen to be the first thing that comes to mind among young college students. Young people frequently make up excuses not to vote, including “I don’t see the significance, “ “my vote won’t make a difference especially when it’s not a presidential election.” The “I don’t care about voting” or simply the “oh my gosh, I’m so busy I totally forgot to vote” people. Whatever vote category one may identify with, voting among college students could be better. When I think about young voters, the Rock the Vote Campaign immediately comes to mind. Rock the Vote is a non-profit organization that helps get youth to the polls. Frequently released videos draw people in by showing off the “do good” celebrities who care about voting in their ad campaigns. Rock the Vote makes voting registration easier to raise numbers in youth registration and participation. According to the organization’s website,12,000 Americans turn 18 every day. We have 2,000 students on Saint Michael’s College campus and about 200+ faculty and staff. Imagine if every single person on the Saint Michael’s College campus voted?
As we look towards the 2016 presidential election, It seems like all over the state, Vermont is “Feeling the Bern.” But the question is: ARE YOU? More and more people are learning about Bernie Sanders, and Jonathan Tasini’s The Essential Bernie Sanders and his Vision for America is hot off the press and ready for all to read. With one year left until Election Day, it seems that this year people are getting more and more excited about a particular candidate close to home. Vermont’s own Senator Bernie Sanders announced his candidacy for the Presidential race on May 26th, 2015. His May 26th announcement happened here in Vermont, Burlington to be exact, right down the road from Saint Michael’s College. Having a home candidate has seemed to spark more political interest on campus. When returning to campus this fall, cars, water bottles and laptops were decked out with Bernie Sanders stickers, SMC Facebook groups, and even phone cases showing the Bernie Sanders love.
The Essential Bernie Sanders and his Vision for America, by Jonathan Tasini, written in a speedy 22 days, provides an accessible guide giving readers a clear and quick view on Senator Sanders’ platform. One of the most noticeable qualities many find attractive about Senator Sander is his “authenticity.” It’s nice to hear about a candidate who doesn’t want to waste airtime talking about his hair, but would rather focus on the issues at hand. Tasini touches on 20 different issues – the U.S. economy, education, Wall Street, foreign policy, immigration and the environment – showing all of Sanders’ views in a short and concise 162 page book reads like a laundry list of platforms rather than a novel.
Bernie Sanders constantly references his personal stories within his speeches: “I have seen first-hand the impact of our broken immigration system. In 2008, my U.S. Senate office learned about a crisis occurring with migrant laborers in the tomato fields of Immokalee, Florida,” states Sanders. The Immokalee workers were fighting to increase the paltry wages they were receiving for back-breaking work” (Tasini, 97). In Senator Sanders’ speech to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials in June of this year, he mentioned how much of an influence undocumented workers have in this nation. “Undocumented workers build many of our homes, cook our meals, and maintain our landscapes. We even entrust undocumented workers with that which we hold most dear-our children” (Tasini 96).
For me, I have a soft spot for Immokalee after leading my service trip with Saint Michael’s MOVE Program this past January. The people of Immokalee, specifically, The Coalition of Immokalee Workers, have fought for better wages and attracted national attention to cases of modern day slavery in this small town less than an hour away from Naples, Florida. Not only did Sanders learn about Immokalee, he went there to visit for himself. “In January of 2008, I decided to go there myself and investigate;” he explains. “What I found was human tragedy.” Workers were being paid starvation wages, living in severely substandard housing, and subjected to abusive labor practices (Tasini 97). Immokalee may seem far away from Vermont, but Sanders’ support for the 2010 DREAM Act, which provides a chance for agricultural workers like tomato pickers in Immokalee and the over 2,000 dairy farmers in Vermont a chance for legal status. Bernie Sanders stands for the common citizen. His ideas are straightforward, personal, and stay away from the political nonsense many can’t stand from politicians. Ever since Bernie Sanders has announced his candidacy for President in the 2016 election, he has over 50 celebrity endorsements, his poll numbers are growing and even his Twitter followers are increasing with more than 605,000 followers.
With backing from the likes of Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, supporting Bernie Sanders, it sure seems like he’ll be winning the vote of environmentalists, hippies and tree huggers. According to Tasini, Sanders has opposed the Keystone XL Pipeline and proposed a carbon tax in hopes of decreasing dependence on fossil fuels and invest in renewables. When speaking about the environment, he mentions “grandchildren” multiple times: “Unless we take bold action to address climate change,” Sanders states, “our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are going to look back on this period in history.” Bernie Sanders himself has seven grandchildren and argues that he doesn’t want to leave behind a grave future for his grandchildren.
Again on January 7th, 2015, Sanders told the Senate, “I think our kids and grandchildren will be saying to us: Why did you do that to us?” (Tasini,35). A man who appears to like to lead by example to create a better world for his grandchildren, Bernie Sanders introduced the Climate Protection Act in 2013 to invest in alternative energies, measure efficiency and tax carbon and methane emissions. In that same year, Sanders supported the Residential Energy Savings Act by providing funding assistance in order for home owners to improve energy efficiency. Bernie Sanders introduced yet again another act, the Sustainable Energy Act, to eliminate billions of dollars in tax subsidies to oil, gas and coal industries (Tasini, 37). Unfortunately, these acts died in Congress but this clearly shows that Bernie Sanders will continue to tirelessly fight for a better environment. Bernie Sanders has “fought determinedly for working families, focusing on the shrinking middle class and growing gap between the rich and everyone else” and will continue standing behind those principles while gaining support along the way.
The biggest appeal to the main audience I can’t forget about is education. College students all over the country know that the price to an education would cost you literally an arm and a leg. Bernie loves students and students love Senator Sanders and his propositions to make the College for All Act a reality. The act provides free tuition at every public college and university in this country. “This act of legislation would cover the cost by funding up to $300 billion dollars a year through the imposition of a Wall Street speculation fee.” (Tasini 31). Bernie’s vision said in his introduction for the act on May 19th of this year: “We must revolutionize our nation’s higher education system. We must invest in the young people today, because they are our nation’s future doctor, teachers, engineers, scientist and senators-so they can ensure our economy and our nation as a while have an edge in the 21st century.” Senator Sanders has powerful ideas that attract people of all ages.
Whichever candidate’s platform you find most important, The Essential Bernie Sanders and his Vision for America has you covered. The formatting of the book resembles a quick reference guide with specific laid out chapters, a quotation, quick intro, two to three Bernie Sanders speeches thrown in, and Bernie facts at the end. No matter where you are on the Bernie spectrum, this book is worth a read. I would recommend the book to someone who wants to get a good grasp on the Senator’s vision, and how he has and will continue to carry his ideas (maybe even) all the way to the White House.
Celina Horbat is a Saint Michael’s College student and is #FeelingTheBern.