By Kit Geary
Ashley Turner ‘21, born and raised in Monkton, Vt., remembers seeing Bernie Sanders every single fourth of July at a neighboring town’s parade. Sanders attended even into her high school years as he began to gain attention for his presidential campaign for the 2016 election.“As the years went on and Bernie got more popular everyone would try to take pictures with him at this parade,” Turner said. “It was like having a celebrity there, even though he came every year beforehand.” Sander’s would always make a point to shake the hands of his supporters who were spectators of the parade. Smiling and waving, he would lead a crowd of followers holding his campaign signs.
Sanders so far has won the Nevada, New Hampshire and Iowa primaries, falling to Joe Biden in South Carolina’s. Bernie Sanders currently leads the polls according to a CBS News Battleground Tracker/Yougov poll, showing him at 31 percent compared to Biden’s 19 percent and Elizabeth Warren’s 18 percent. Nationally Sanders’ has accumulated a huge amount of supporters, but are Vermonters still behind their senator as he pulls their state into a national spotlight? Did his grassroots campaigning from previous years upkeep Bernie mania in Vermont?
His grass roots campaigning methods did not start with local parades, it started with local college parties. My uncle, Michael Geary 83’, used to share stories about hosting him on a few different occasions. “Bernie in the early 80s was the mayor of Burlington and used to come to the parties at my apartment on North Union Street”, said Geary. Bernie needed to find a way to reach the college age demographic, and this was his tactic.
Bernie Sanders’ roots with Vermonter’s run deep. And his reach also includes Nicholo Mamaril, who has lived in Vermont for two years now and originally immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines. As a Navy Veteran and a member of the middle class he said he finds himself in agreement with many of Sanders’ political values. “We need a politician to protect the environment and protect the people, in terms of social justice issues and in terms of economic matters,” Mamaril said. He thinks Sander’s had a good run as a Senator and that him being president would benefit the entire United States. “Bernie is not only thinking about Vermont, especially when he debates about economics and health care, he has the whole country in mind” Mamaril said
People assume that Bernie has Vermont’s vote locked in considering the state’s fairly liberal status. “Bernie represents one of, if not the most, left state in the country” said Professor Patricia Siplon, professor of political science at St. Michael’s college. Yet, this liberal state has a Republican Governor, as well as many Republican voters. Will these voters side with Bernie?
Siplon said she anticipates that Bernie Sanders will not only have the Democratic vote in Vermont, but possibly the Republican one too. “I think it is likely he will get some Republican votes. Look at Phil Scott’s support as a moderate Republican. This support may extend to Bernie as well,” Siplon said. Phil Scott openly criticizes President Trump and still maintains support from his Republican base. When it comes down to Vermont Republicans voting, Siplon said she thinks they will cast their ballot for Sanders over Trump.
Sanders will be in Essex Junction Super Tuesday for a rally, in hopes of winning over Vermont’s vote. “Bernie mania is definitely a Vermont thing,” Turner said. “ I think we are super proud to have had him as a senator for so long, and he’ll have been a candidate in the last election and this election” Turner said.