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MSU College Dems fired up after 'feeling the Bern' at U-M

October 22, 2018
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, speaks at U-M's Rackham Auditorium on Oct. 19.
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, speaks at U-M's Rackham Auditorium on Oct. 19. —
Photo by Andrew Roth | The State News

MSU College Democrats, who took a trip to the University of Michigan for a rally Friday featuring U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, say they are fired up and ready to go for the final days of the 2018 campaign season.

“I think everyone that’s speaking tonight is super excited about the ballot coming forward, and we’re all just really pumped for election day,” social relations and policy senior Dalaney Bradley said.

Getting student voters to the polls on Nov. 6 was a key message at the event. Low voter turnout would lead to Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Schuette defeating Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, Sanders said.

“On election night, if you turn on the TV and the commentator tells you that it looks like all across this country voter turnout is low, ... you can turn off your television. Because I will tell you with absolute certainty that if the turnout is low, Gretchen ... is going to lose, and your great lieutenant governor candidate is going to lose as well,” Sanders said. “But if that commentator says 'something is going on in Michigan and Vermont and around the country and voter turnout is high,' say hello to your next governor.”

“People in this country become intimidated by politics,” Sanders said. “You have friends who don’t vote, they’re going to give you stories as to why they don’t: ‘My vote doesn’t matter, everybody is corrupt, nothing is going to change,’ on, and on, and on it goes. … Now is the time to stand up, fight back and vote.”

Recent RealClearPolitics polling shows that Whitmer holds a sizeable lead over Schuette, which U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Michigan, said could lead to a false sense of security and disincentivise voters from showing up to the polls.

“Some of these polls look pretty good, but we’ve seen that movie before, haven’t we? I saw that movie; it was not a good movie,” Peters said. “We were up in the polls. People thought 'everything’s okay, I don’t need to go vote' … Well, ladies and gentlemen, that’s not the way it works. Politics is a participation activity. You have to be engaged.”

Speakers at the rally noted the significance of this election in the United States’ history.

“It is a hackneyed phrase, and a too-often used phrase, to say that the coming election is the most important election, but honest to God, I believe that this coming midterm election is the most important midterm election in the modern history of our country,” Sanders said. 

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Michigan, said the importance of voting is reflected in the way Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court played out.

“When the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee says there aren’t women on it because we don’t work as hard, that’s it for me,” Dingell said. “I challenge Senator Grassley to spend half a day with me in Washtenaw County and keep up. He can’t.”

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, said that the midterms are about “who we are as a people.”

“When I watched … people who used to hide under cover of night under sheets who took the sheets off and now stand in front of the cameras, in the light of day, spewing the worst bigotry and racism imaginable; when I see people (with) burning torches marching down the streets as neo-Nazis, and then hear what the president said; no, there were not some good people there doing that,” Stabenow said. 

The Michigan Republican Party was quick to criticize Whitmer as being an "extreme" candidate for inviting Sanders to the rally.

“How extreme can Gretchen Whitmer get? It seems she has decided to go as far left as Bernie Sanders,” the party said in a Facebook post.

Some Republicans, such as former U.S. Rep. Joe Schwarz and Jim Haveman, a former health director under Govs. John Engler and Rick Snyder, decided in September to back Whitmer over Schuette and now lead a group known as “Republicans and Independents for Whitmer.

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