Spartans for Sanders is a student organization that works to support Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders through lobbying and community outreach ahead of the March 10 presidential primary.
Political theory and constitutional democracy senior and President of Spartans for Sanders Brendan Radtke said he supports Sanders because he is “grounded in principle” and works to find the root of societal problems.
Sanders has long advocated for health care for all Americans and free tuition for public universities, two ideas that Radtke and Spartans for Sanders believe will impact the most people.
“His ideas, like single payer health care and — especially for our students — making public universities like Michigan State tuition-free ... and $15 minimum wage would directly benefit everybody I know and just about everybody they know,” Radtke said. “The question now is as Democrats — the party that’s supposed to represent the interests of working people, the poor, minorities and other oppressed groups — as we choose our presidential nominee, why would we not embrace these ideas which would help everybody in our society, the majority of the country and solve many issues that people face.”
Sanders has also shown support for addressing other hot-topic issues, such as climate change.
“I think the thing we all probably agree is the most important is his climate change plan,” journalism senior and communications director Kayla Effner said. “His Green New Deal is really the only plan that any candidate has invented that is extreme enough to sufficiently address climate change in time to prevent it from irreparable damage for our planet. So, I think that’s, arguably, the most important thing because without that there’s really no point in any of the other policies.”
Spartans for Sanders, which started in the fall semester, worked to gain support for the presidential candidate before the Iowa caucuses.
“I think that we do a pretty good job, although I’m really pretty new to it,” social relations and policy senior Acacia Costales said. “We got a lot of people to come out to Iowa the last couple of weeks, which I thought is pretty cool. I think we’ve been able to find a way to harness a lot of the passion people are feeling about the stuff going today in politics.”
Besides gaining support, the organization works to spread information about Sanders and register people to vote.
“Primarily, what we do other than have weekly meetings is ... knock on doors, and we do tabling,” Radtke said. “So, we set up a table in residential halls or near the intersection and pass that information, talk to students, register voters. We registered over 200 voters last semester. We also knock on doors. Last semester, we knocked on over 1,000 doors in the neighborhood north of campus, and we passed out literature on Bernie and what he’s going to do for students, and we talked to other students in our community about what he can do for us.”
Previously, Spartans for Sanders stood in solidarity with the UAW workers during their strike in Lansing. Radtke said the organization participated to show it doesn’t just support Sanders, but supports Sanders’ mission.
Costales said Spartans for Sanders chose to support Sanders because he fights for the working class.
“I think he’s very honest and real about what he feels that America needs, which is what a lot of other people think, as well. It’s not for special interest, it’s not for billionaires. ... It really is led by the people, which I think is fundamental to our democracy,” Costales said.
Correction: This article was updated to correct a typo in "single payer health care"
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