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Bernie Sanders supporters set up shop at local Amherst festival

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Phil Roeder/Flickr

(Phil Roeder/Flickr)

The Amherst Town Common hosted the town’s apple harvest and crafts festival Saturday, and amid the crafts was a small table in support of a Democratic presidential Bernie Sanders.

A group of volunteers from the Progressive Democrats of America, a liberal political organization, set up a table every Saturday morning at the commons and hands out pamphlets, flyers and buttons in order to promote their candidate.

The pamphlets and flyers provide information about Sanders and his campaign, which informs readers about the Senator’s plans, which include investment in infrastructure, transformation of energy systems to rely less on fossil fuels, raising the federal minimum wage and making college affordable.

John J. Templeton Sr., a volunteer and Bernie Sanders supporter, believes that American voters are fed up with politicians that have been bought up by the wealthy and work against the interest of the American people.

“People are really fed up with that and they really sense that Bernie Sanders is quite different from your average politician,” Templeton states. “Bernie doesn’t accept [Political Action Committees] contributions and will not accept money from corporations.”

An issue that affects younger voters is student debt. Sanders’ plan to address this issue would make all public universities and colleges tuition-free and cut student loan interest rates nearly in half.

“There was one fellow volunteering from the University of Massachusetts who is a junior and he has 75,000 dollars in debt,” Templeton added. What Bernie is going to do is eliminate or try to minimize that kind of exploitation and return the loan system to a governmental program that offers low rates.”

Sanders will host a rally on the steps of Springfield City Hall at 2 p.m. Oct. 3, followed by a 6 p.m. rally at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Campaign officials state that Sanders will discuss issues including income inequality, campaign finance reform and legislation targeting the high cost of prescription drugs.

While Sanders’ campaign has earned much support from the far left of American politics, it has faced significant opposition from both conservative and liberal perspectives. George F. Will, a conservative columnist, said Sanders “thinks America should be more like Greece,” the Eurozone state plagued with huge amounts of debt, in an opinion piece for The Washington Post.

Correct the Record, a pro-Hillary Clinton SuperPAC, sent an email to the Huffington Post unfavorably comparing Sanders Jeremy Corbyn, the far-left leader of the United Kingdom’s Labour Party and Hugo Chavez, the late Venezuelan socialist leader who is often seen as undemocratic and anti-American in the United States.

Sanders has embraced progressive positions and beliefs. “I’ve stayed away from calling myself a socialist,” stated Sanders in an interview for the Boston Globe after winning the Burlington mayoral election in 1981. “I did not want to spend half of my life explaining that I did not believe in the Soviet Union or in concentration camps.”

“[Sanders] believes that the average person’s vote should count in Washington, not the way it is now where our votes don’t count at all,” Templeton said.

Currently, the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll has Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton with 42 percent of national support, compared to Sanders’ 35 percent.

“Voters have to spread the word. Sanders’ campaign will make it possible for voters to do that. There’s a really good chance of him winning,” Templeton said.

Danny Cordova can be reached at [email protected]

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