Southern Miss students share mixed views on Sen. Sanders


Photo by Brian Winters

Bernie Sanders, a Democratic senator from Vermont, is turning heads in light of his landslide victory in Nevada. The New York Times and other publications have awarded Sanders the title of nominal frontrunner. Even in Mississippi, support for Sanders can be found.

Sanders supporter and Mississippi resident Chelsea Howard said she sees Sanders’ recent victories as a promising start to a long and competitive campaign.

“People often dismiss him because they don’t believe a better world is possible,” Howard said. “I don’t think what he is fighting for is radical at all. Healthcare, criminal justice reform, debt-free college, high-speed internet expansions. I think these are all practical and realistic ways to make a better world.”

Howard said she thinks Sanders’ policies could improve the lives of many Mississippians.

“The harder challenge to overcome is the centrist mindset that I personally feel tells us, ‘A better world is possible, just not now,’ to which I would say, ‘Why not now,’” Howard said.

Howard, who has been organizing on a grassroots level and attending events in Jackson and Memphis, said Sanders’ victories are the start of a grassroots political revolution.

“I don’t have time to second-guess that he may not win,” Howard said. “I have to do everything in my power to ensure he does.”

While Howard remains optimistic about Sanders’ chances, not everyone is supportive of the senator. Junior hospitality and tourism major, Elise Motes, said she thinks Bernie Sanders is too radical to win the 2020 presidency.

“I do not think he has the following of such magnitudes as President Trump and Pete Buttigieg,” Motes said.

Buttigieg is no longer running as of March 1. 

Motes said while she likes the idea of a system that helps struggling people get back on their feet, it can be taken advantage of.

“For me at least, I am not comfortable with the policies and programs that Bernie has planned for our country,” Motes said. 

Motes added that she is open to changing her opinions given relevant information.

Mississippi resident Tracy Tolman has been a Sanders supporter since 2015, when he first ran for president. 

“I am very optimistic that Bernie will be the Democratic nominee and win in November,” Tolman said.

Regarding the challenges of garnering support for Sanders in Mississippi, Tolman said she sees it not as a challenge, but as an opportunity.

“We are unique in that we identify with the movement and the issues rather than with a party or even our chosen candidates,” Tolman said. “That perspective allows us to build bridges rather than walls. People are attracted to our campaign because we see them and acknowledge their struggle.”

Sanders is currently in the lead with 58 delegates, but only time will tell if Sanders will become the Democratic nominee for president.