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Bernie Sanders brings message of change to Kent State

by Matthew Merchant | Record-Courier staff writer Published: September 19, 2016 11:16 AM

Bernie Sanders challenged students at Kent State University to speak up for change and vote in the upcoming election during a rally on campus Sept. 17.

"This election will impact your lives, and the lives of your children, and the lives of your grandchildren. That's what is at stake here," the senator from Vermont said, now supporting Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton.

Since the end of his unsuccessful campaign for president, Sanders has been pushing a more progressive Clinton platform.

Sanders spoke on a variety of issues facing young voters and the country as whole.

"This campaign is not about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders or anybody else. Know what campaigns are really about? They're about you. And what serious politics in a democracy talks about is respecting other people's points of view," Sanders said. "It's about going into your own hearts and 'What are the issues that affect my life, my family's lives, my friends lives, and my communities lives? And who is going to best to address those issues?' That's about it."

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The mostly student audience of about 1,000 filled part of the KSU Recreation and Wellness Center. They cheered at Sanders' charge for free undergraduate college tuition and Clinton's shared support to combat student debt.

Speaking before the rally, State Rep. Kathleen Clyde spoke about Ohio's swing-state role in the upcoming election, and Hana Barkowitz, president of the Kent State College Democrats, talked about using education and privilege to do good for society.

"I grew up with a value of gratitude to not take for granted the things that you have but instead use your privilege for the greater good. And you shine light on the problems in our society and show pathways to solutions," Barkowitz said.

Sanders also addressed aspects of the Trump campaign. The Republican presidential nominee's platform is based on dividing Americans and spreading hatred around the world, Sanders said.

"If there is anything we should be proud of living here in 2016 is that over those years there's always been people standing up -- sometimes dying, sometimes going to jail, sometimes getting beaten -- that said in America we will not be a racist, discriminatory country," he said. "As a nation, we have come a long, long way in combating those forms of discrimination the cornerstone of Donald Trump's campaign is bigotry."

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Every generation has a group of young people who fight against the bigotry to make progressive change, and college students are part of that current generation, Sanders said.

"What I want to see is this country to have the highest level of voter turnout of any country on earth. I want working people and young people to stand up and fight back," he said.

After the rally, Sanders told a group of student volunteers that KSU students should talk with their friends and family members about the issues that matter most to them.

Not only should people vote for Clinton in the election, but also other Democratic candidates on the ballot.

"We've got a lot of work to do in the next six weeks," he said.

Sanders made an appearance at the University of Akron earlier in the day Sept. 17.

Contact this reporter at 330-289-1127 or mmerchant@recordpub.com

Twitter: @MattMerchant_RC


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