Students divided over Bernie Sanders candidacy

For The News-Letter

As the 2016 presidential election approaches, many Hopkins students are becoming more involved in politics, especially since it will be the first election in which many are eligible to vote.

Young people across the country have begun to support democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, seeing his liberal policies as aligned with their desires.

Sophomore George Gulino, a Sanders activist, said Sanders has stationed himself as a Hillary Clinton alternative.

“He’s a populist with a consistent record, so people believe they can trust his bold statements. The statements themselves also demonstrate a more proactive, progressive approach to policy,” Gulino said. “He’s set himself up as a trustworthy, true-blue progressive alternative to a Hillary Clinton who is perceived by many Democrats to be almost the opposite.”

Gulino’s opinions on Sanders’ role in the election are shared by many, such as College Republicans President Nitin Nainani.
“I think there’s a reason why Bernie is polling as well as he is, and he’s surged to the extent that he has largely because he is essentially the opposite of Hillary Clinton,” Nainani said. “A lot of people were concerned that we would enter this election and get another Bush versus Clinton election. Who wants that?”

While some people disagree with Sanders’ policies and ideology, they have often been met with positivity on campus, in part because Sanders addresses issues pertinent to the lives of college students and prospective professionals. Sanders’ 12 step plan, Agenda for America, promotes increasing the affordability of college, breaking the glass ceiling of gender inequality and addressing the environmental crisis, ideas which freshman Teresa Lee finds ideologically and personally important.

“Bernie Sanders is the only presidential candidate who promises to provide equal rights to the nation’s disenfranchised groups while looking toward the future of the common good,” Lee said. “His Agenda for America includes many points which are relevant to me as a female college student and citizen of the planet, including the promise of affordable college for future students, pay equity for women and climate change reversal to ensure that the planet is livable for the present time and future generations.”

Yet not all agree with the policies Sanders advocates for. Many see his attempts to increase government involvement and control as further complicating and confounding the system.

Junior Dana Ettinger, a member of the Hopkins chapter of Young Americans for Liberty, explained her view on the candidate.

“I’m a libertarian, which means I’m very opposed to the notion that big government is the solution to anything. Even ignoring the fact that his proposals would add at minimum $11 trillion to the deficit, I fundamentally disagree with the idea that the government and the federal government alone can solve all of our problems,” Ettinger said.

Though Sanders’ ideas on college debt reform are popular among many college students, others see his educational policies in a less positive light.

“The education plan definitely worries me. Especially since I’m thinking about grad school and I’ll definitely need to take out loans to do it,” Ettinger said.

Gulino, who works for the campaign, explained salient aspects of the Sanders platform.

“Bernie’s agenda hits all the right points, although I think he tends to neglect the fact that the government can’t just spend its way into long-term increases in standard of living,” he said. “We also need to invest in job training to equip people for high-paying available jobs. His focus on inequality and the middle class is the most important, although he’s tried hard not to be a single-issue candidate.”

Others agree with Sanders socially, but disagree with his economic policies.

“I think the country is still adjusting to some of the glitches with Obamacare, I think that will take a few more years to really settle in and really take effect,” Nainani, of College Republicans, said. “I think it’s too early to be talking about any further health bills, let alone single-payer. I think the focus should be fixing on some of the problems that we see with Obamacare.”
Nainani said he values Sanders’ role in the race.

“I welcome his candidacy in the primary because he’s been an important contribution to the national discussion and the debate going on in our country right now,” Nainani said. “Adding that different perspective has been important for our process.”

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