BY DANIEL SAENZ
Prior to the 2016 election, Bernie Sanders was relatively unknown in the political scene. For years, he was an obscure independent who just happened to be the mayor of Burlington, Vermont at one point. However, with his message of income inequality and putting an end to money in politics, Sanders mounted a competitive campaign against Hillary Clinton and has become a very popular figure for disaffected millennials who really do not have a lot of faith in the current system.
Seizing on this momentum, the American Democracy Project decided to host a livestream last Wednesday of Sanders’ live interview with Alexander Burns from the New York Times. The interview started out with Sanders’ basic platform of income inequality against companies such as Amazon who have recently come under fire for their working conditions. So much so that the company decided to raise wages following a month-long campaign from Sanders.
“Jeff Bezos is easily one of the richest people on the planet and yet, many of his workers were not making a living wage. The Walton family is the richest family in the United States, and yet they do not pay their workers a livable wage.” Senator Sanders proceeded to describe his idea of the disappearing middle class and proceeded to describe other pressing issues such as the Supreme Court.
“If Kavanaugh is on the court, the Republicans will have a 5-4 majority vote and will more than likely side with big money interests,” Sanders said.
After giving a long outline about how he feels that big money interests are eroding our democracy, Sanders delved into the area where this all connects: voting.
During the question and answer session, a young student from Central Florida asked Sanders to respond to the commonly held opinion that our vote does not matter since after all, big money interests control everything.
“I would say they’re dead wrong. Voting matters. Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, it is important to go and vote for the people that represent your interests and hold them accountable,” Sanders said.
Those who are familiar with the American Democracy Project know full well that voting is one of their main focus areas, as showcased by the voter registration drive that they have organized along with this event. Kaytee Wisely, one of the members and organizers of this event said, “We organized this event in the hope that the students could understand just how important voting is and how civic engagement benefits them.”
Wisely also stressed that this would only be the beginning of such events.
“Later on, we plan on organizing events with the Young Invincibles which would also focus on helping young people register to vote. More information on that will be available on our website,” said Wisely.
Regardless of party affiliations, such efforts should be praised. This campus has worked hard to have groups such as the American Democracy Project help students be aware of their civic duties. By doing this, Fort Hays is helping its students prepare for adulthood.