The Bernie Booth is the first political campaigning table to pop up on campus.
By Cesia Lopez, Staff Writer
With nearly 20 Democratic contenders vying to stop President Donald Trump from winning a second term, Bernie Sanders’ volunteer army is hard at work in every congressional district, hosting events and setting up booths to engage in conversation with the people.
At Valley, Michael Wakcher has been setting up his table and tent with a Bernie banner and handmade posters for the past month in the college’s free speech area. Wakcher is part of a larger group of volunteers across America, who are listening to the issues students care about and discusses where Sanders stands on them. The 36-year old prepares students for the March 3rd primary election date by checking for voter registration, ensuring that as many young people as possible get out to vote.
“I can say that from the hundreds of people we’ve engaged with there are many students who are very passionate about Bernie and are grateful that the booth is there to help them get involved,” said Wakcher, who has been leading the Bernie booth. “That’s how we know the mission is working.”
Volunteer support for Sanders has been record breaking. According to Politico, he held the largest presidential candidate campaign event when an estimated 26,000 people showed up to his rally in Queens in October. Within six days of Sanders’ campaign announcement, he hit 1 million volunteer sign ups, ready to spread the message of his movement at the grassroots level.
The Vermont senator garnered a huge support base in 2016 as the insurgent candidate leading a political revolution. His ideas of free college and reducing student debt, considered radical at the time, mark the new progressive baseline for the Democratic candidates running now. Notably, he encouraged Democrats to support “Medicare for All” and began the trend of rejecting corporate donations that many candidates this year have emulated.
A 2016 article from The Washington Post shows a chart revealing that more than 2 million young people between the ages of 18 and 30 cast their vote for Sanders, more than the combined 1.6 million Hillary Clinton and Trump received in the 2016 primaries.
“Bernie is not just a presidential candidate,” stated Wakcher. “He is leading a movement to take power away from a small group of wealthy individuals who have rigged the economy for the benefit of the 1 percent at the expense of working people. A lot of candidates say similar things, but Bernie has the voting record and decades of political activism to back it up.”
As a 2020 Democratic nominee frontrunner, Sanders is leading with the most individual donors across the nation, totalling $61.5 million in contributions, as stated by The New York Times.
“He has stood on picket lines with striking workers,” Wakcher listed. “His Green New Deal is the most aggressive to fight climate change. He believes healthcare is a human right and literally ‘wrote the damn bill’ when it comes to Medicare for All. He takes no corporate money. He’s the only candidate I trust to not only continue to fight for these things once he is President, but also to mobilize the people as ‘organizer in chief,’ to use his own words.”
The Bernie Booth at Valley has been the first and only to show up and begin a dialogue with students, reflective of the candidate’s overwhelming volunteer support.
“Perhaps other candidates will set up a booth at LAVC. But for the last couple months, Bernie is the only one out there,” Wakcher affirmed. “The Bernie campaign and the volunteers are fighting hard. That’s why we’re going to win.”
Those who have any questions or are interested in volunteering at the Bernie Booth at Valley, which runs every Wednesday morning from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., Wakcher can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the official campaign page berniesanders.com for more information on how to get involved locally.