The University of Michigan’s chapter of Biden for President hosted Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in Ann Arbor’s Kerrytown Monday afternoon. More than 75 people attended the rally in person, while more than 500 supporters logged on to the virtual livestream.   

Sanders started the event by emphasizing the importance of continuing to make progress in a thoughtful, informed way. 

“We can keep our country moving forward if we do so in a way that is disciplined, not dangerous, that is responsible, not reckless,” Sanders said. “And we (need to) listen to science.”

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., spoke to supporters about her excitement for the election. 

“(It’s a) really exciting, important day for me,” Dingell said. “We are four weeks out from the most important election of my lifetime. I’ve been talking to Bernie about things we care about … we both know how important the young people are in this election.”

Sanders appealed to young people, saying they are leading activists in many social justice issues.

“This is a generation that is leading the fight against systemic racism and police brutality,” Sanders said. “It is a generation that is leading the fight against xenophobia, a generation that is leading the fight against sexism. A generation that is leading the fight against religious bigotry, a generation that is leading the fight against never-ending wars and a bloated military budget. And this is a generation, unlike the current president of the United States, that knows that climate change is real.”

Sanders said despite young peoples’ achievements, they have one “major political shortcoming:” low voter turnout. 

“This young generation does not vote in large enough numbers,” Sanders said. “… if you are worried about the outrageous level of student debt that many of you are incurring, if you are upset about the high cost of college and graduate school, if you are concerned about the low-paying jobs that many of you have, if you are concerned and worried about climate change, sexism, racism, homophobia and religious bigotry, it is not enough to complain or to moan and groan. We’ve got to fight back and the first way is to vote.”

Sanders emphasized the power of the young vote and this generation’s ability to make lasting change. 

“We will transform this country,” Sanders said. “The future of America depends upon you.”

Sanders discussed many of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s plans, including cancellation of student loan debt for individuals making less than $125,000 per year and health care that is affordable for all Americans. He concluded his event by encouraging people to come together to elect Biden in November. 

“Let us come together to enact the most progressive agenda in the modern history of this country,” Sanders said. “Let us come together to build an America that works for all and not just the billionaire class. And let us elect Joe Biden as the next president of the United States of America.”

Michelle Deatrick, national chair of the DNC Council on the Environment and Climate Crisis and DNC member from Michigan, said Bernie’s presence in Michigan today will be beneficial for voter turnout. 

“We’re so pleased that Senator Sanders is in Michigan today,” Deatrick said. “This is a critical swing state, and the presence of Senator Sanders in the state will be tremendously helpful in our efforts to organize, get out the vote and win on November 3rd — especially with early voting already underway. Sanders is a champion of the environment and workers’ rights, and firing up his supporters, and all Democrats and Independents in the state, will be key to victory.” 

Arden Shapiro, co-founder of the University’s chapter of Students for Bernie and LSA senior, told The Michigan Daily in an email that while she’s excited that Bernie is so involved in Biden’s campaign, it’s tough for her to watch him put his health at risk amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The fact that Sen. Sanders is Biden’s most active campaigner in the midst of a global pandemic is a testament to the Senator’s character and his long record of being a champion of working and marginalized people who will be most harmed by another four years of Trump,” Shapiro wrote. “At the same time, it is incredibly frustrating to watch Bernie work so hard and put his own health at risk for a campaign that continues to make disparaging and tone-deaf remarks about the Senator and his movement.” 

Shapiro emphasized Bernie’s message about getting young people to vote, and while she plans to vote for the Biden/Harris ticket in November, she wishes Biden’s campaign would work to implement more progressive policies like the ones proposed by Sanders.

“While I am happy that Sen. Sanders and Rep. Dingell are working hard to encourage youth and independent voters to vote Trump out of office, I wish that Biden and the political establishment he represents wouldn’t be so bold about the fact that they care more about maintaining the status quo that enabled Trump’s ascendance in the first place than implementing policies and practices that will make this country a more equitable place,” Shapiro wrote. 

Daily Staff Reporter Sarah Payne can be reached at paynesm@umich.edu. 

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