With the gears of the 2016 presidential election having begun to grind forward, opinions run high on campus at UMass Lowell. Perhaps the most talked about candidate of the moment, and the center of a considerable surge of popularity among the Millennial generation, is Sen. Bernie Sanders.
“I think he’s a great representative for the average American,” said political science major Brittanie Dudley. “I like that he has been a long-standing supporter of abortion and contraceptives, as well as supporting organizations that support family planning.
Dudley said she also appreciated Sanders declining to accept donations from large corporations and ultra-wealthy donors. Most recently, Sanders declined a donation from pharmaceutical mogul Martin Shkreli. Shkreli purchased the rights to an AIDS medication while raising its price from around $13.50 to $750 per pill, according to a report from Buisness Insider. Sanders donated his contribution to AIDS research instead.
“I think it takes a lot of guts to do that when our political system really only rewards the candidates who receive and spend the most money,” she said.
Tim Garafano said he doesn’t consider himself an “outright Democrat,” yet supports Sanders nonetheless. “I pretty much just like whoever appeals to me as an actual human being, and Bernie does.”
Garafano said he appreciated Sanders’ focus on what he considers major issues affecting the country, including scholastic debt, the price of health care, and America’s prison system. “Bernie Sanders actually addressed the anger that I have about the problems this country has instead of pretending that they’re going to fix themselves,” he said.
Support for Sanders among
students is not universal, however. “I’m currently on the Hilary Clinton wave,” said Samantha Limberti. “I feel like she’s more focused on the middle group and trying to get some more women’s health issues put on the map, which is obviously important to me.”
Limberti said she also believed Clinton stood a better chance of actually securing an election. “[Clinton’s] technically already been close to the office,” she said, referring to Clinton’s former position as secretary of state to President Obama for the first four years of his presidency. “She kind of already knows what’s coming for her.”
While no Republicans made themselves available for interview, “Trump 2016” remains the popular flippant response to enquiries as to students’ favored candidates. Despite his overwhelming popularity, the Trump candidacy appears to remain a joke to many on campus, and throughout the nation at large.
However, Limberti said she thought Trump did not have a chance of winning, but said she was still dismayed at his progress. “At first I felt like it was just gonna be a joke, and then the joke got serious,” she said.
Even among Sanders supporters there are doubts as to his electability in the face of the dual threat of Clinton and the eventual Republican nominee. As much as she might wish to see him, win, Dudley said she recognizes the disadvantage Sanders must deal with in his decision to forego accepting large corporate donations, and the obligations that come with them.
“I suppose in this case I really am rooting for the underdog,” she said.