Feeling the Bern?


photo courtesy of Acalia Randall

Bernie’s recent Tacoma Dome rally on February 17 drew more than 17,000 attendees.

Lauren Cook and Kaitlin Tan

Throughout his campaign, US Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has gained a notable following from the younger demographic, often attributed to policies centered around economic equity such as eliminating debt, free college for all and job security.

To better understand why young people “Feel the Bern,” Inkwell surveyed Upper School students. An interesting trend was that girls expressed an overwhelming amount of support for Sanders, while boys voiced the most opposition. 

The students who indicated their support for Sanders most often noted that he connects with all Americans. “He really cares about the wellbeing of the people,” freshman Laney Sneva wrote. The most common reason provided for supporting Sanders was agreeing with notable policies such as healthcare and college for all. These policies also proved to be the biggest divide in support, as there were also the most common reasons for why some students believe he would not make a good President. 

“Though I disagree with Bernie over several of his proposed solutions to the current problems facing America, I think his diagnosis of what needs fixing is largely correct,” said junior Nelson Athow. “His historical support for the same issues also makes it much easier to trust that he truly supports his message of positive change.” Opinions like Athow’s were expressed in great numbers throughout the survey: many indicated that while everyone may not agree with Sanders’s methods, the fact that he has stood behind the same issues for many years gives him appeal.

Several of those who were unsupportive of Sanders’s campaign explained they felt his self-described “democratic socialist” philosophy is dangerous to society and the US government system as a whole.

“I find him to be a disgusting human being with nothing remarkable to say,” said sophomore Samantha Salamone. “His campaign strategy is to trash Trump and make promises he can’t keep, such as free health care and free college. Nothing is free, nothing can ever be free… There is not the money in the entire nation to support [his proposals].”

Other students shared similar, if less visceral, concerns, questioning how the candidate expects to pay for all his big plans and expressing concern for the country if the President took a socialist approach.

The majority of student responses fell somewhere in the middle, with many expressing concerns that while Sanders’s proposals could bring positive change, the candidate is “too far left” to beat Trump in the upcoming election.

On February 17, Vermont senator and Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders held a rally in the Tacoma Dome for his first visit to Washington state in 2020. Sanders’ rally drew 17,000 people to the dome, including Annie Wright Upper School students. 

Inkwell spoke to senior Acalia Randall, who attended the rally, about her experience: 

Inkwell: Why did you decide to attend the Bernie Sanders rally?

Randall: I’ve been a big Bernie supporter since 2016 when he first ran. I really believe in his movement and what he is going to do for the US. I really wanted to be there and show my support and see him in person.

Inkwell: How was the experience at the rally?

Randall: It was really cool to be surrounded by people that also support him and believe in his movement. I also got to meet [US House of Representatives candidate] Joshua Collins, who is also one of my idols. It was really great to meet him and be around people who believe in medicare for all and racial justice. The energy that people brought makes a genuine change.

Inkwell: What were some things you observed at the rally?

Randall: I noticed that there were a lot of young people and [the demographic] was predominantly white. But I also observed that a lot of people are concerned about the climate and the state of America right now. I was able to share my experiences with other supporters and hear about other supporters’ experiences and create a bond.

Inkwell: What was your impression of how the rally was organized?

Randall: It was really cool. The Puyallup tribe came out, which was important because it took place in the Tacoma Dome, which is on the tribe’s land, and they asked him to be there and gave permission for him to be there. They also had the only socialist in government to represent the movement and had a ton of Seattle City Council members; they had [US Representative] Pramila Jayapal. It was well organized, and they got many strong women of color to speak for him, which is important because it’s not for gaining votes or clout; he believes they have a lot to offer to the world.