On Saturday, April 27, local community organizers, led by the “28ers”, a progressive political activist coalition, hosted a kickoff event supporting Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential primary campaign for the Democratic Party. The organization seeks to legislate a 28th amendment that would overturn Citizens United and formally take money out of politics by moving directly to publicly funded elections. UCR lecturer Matthew Snyder, who teaches in the University Writing Program, spoke to attendees about the various ways in which they could help support Sanders’ campaign.
The event began with the presentation of a pre-recorded video of Faiz Shakir, Sanders’ campaign manager, Nina Turner, Sanders’ campaign co-chair and Sanders himself all giving speeches to a New Hampshire audience on the need to “fight the billionaire class and deliver real economic justice to working families across America.” During the video, Sanders highlighted various examples of wealthy political donors attempting to subvert democracy by pouring massive amounts of cash into “establishment corporatist campaigns” and continued to demand a single-payer healthcare system as well as the total cancellation of all student debt across the country.
Approximately thirty people attended the event. While most attendees were students, there were also former alumni and other community members from the surrounding area as well. Michael Paster, a third-year transfer student, joined 28ers because he was “passionate about defunding Super PACs and getting money out of politics.” According to Paster, “the current administration has perpetrated countless injustices and engaged in endless discrimination against marginalized groups. I’m supporting Bernie because I don’t want to feel helpless in the current political environment and he is the only candidate who actually cares about empowering people.”
Jeff Green, another attendee and graduate of UCR, is also a member of 28ers. “I have always cared about economic injustice and I was part of the Occupy Wall St. movement a decade ago,” said Green. “I campaigned for Bernie in 2016 because he is the only politician who understands the important need to get money out of politics.” Green regularly volunteers for Bernie events by designing and producing a variety of political buttons that he showcases at local rallies.
According to Matthew Snyder, the event organizer, he is very optimistic that Sanders will eventually win the nomination. “What we’re seeing right now in the primary process is something very similar to the Star Wars movie ‘Attack of the Clones,’” said Snyder. “There are a bunch of candidates being aggressively marketed by the powerful billionaire class who seem to all have the same exact ideas that are no different from the failed centrist policies of the past few decades.”
On the feasibility of his preferred candidate, Snyder was optimistic. “The biggest thing that distinguishes Bernie from the rest of the field is the fact that he will be gaining support from voters who are not traditionally Democrats. Many of these voters are disenfranchised and fed up with the system, but they will be brought back into our democracy because of Bernie’s unique and authentic appeal. We are going to continue to push the Overton Window left by championing broadly popular progressive policies such as Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, tuition-free college and putting an end to the interventionist wars.”
Snyder also serves as the faculty adviser for UCR 28ers. The club meets every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.