By Amy Gunzelman – Spring Grove, PA
I went into a Pennsylvania Bernie Sanders rally expecting protests and fights, but I was greeted with the opposite. Amidst all the stickers, signs and social media, it was great to see people of all ages – especially mine – attend the rally and converse with each other.
Many rally attendees noted that supporting Bernie is important because he directly addresses how women are still treated like sexual objects in today’s society, paid 79 cents for every dollar a man makes and are fighting for the rights to their own bodies.
“There are plenty of reasons [I support Bernie], but fundamentally because he has always been on the correct side of history and he is genuine,” said fellow rally attendee Melody Stine, age 36. “His empathy and passion for helping the less fortunate or disenfranchised has been his track record since he was younger than my age now.”
As a mother with two daughters, Stine said the extremist right views regarding a woman’s body is terrifying, which makes it even more important that women show up to the polls.
“This year, more than ever, women need to be heard,” Stine said. “Whether the issue is income inequality or the right to choose, it is up to us to not let those decisions be determined by men.”
There are a lot of hot button issues within this election that could drastically affect the next generation as well, said 16-year-old Alexis Stough, like LGBT rights, legalization of marijuana, immigration and education.
“No human being should be ‘illegal.’ They are not an object, they are a person,” Stough said.
Laura Sharp, 44, who was volunteering at the rally, had never really considered herself very political. But when she saw Bernie talking about economic inequality she thought, “Yes, this guy gets where we, everyday people, are.”
Sharp said she sees Bernie as someone who understands that many of the issues facing the average American are human issues, not political ones – something that Hillary Clinton does not communicate. Women shouldn’t feel pressured to vote for Clinton simply because she is a woman, Sharp added.
“As a single mom of two, I have been volunteering for the campaign because I believe so strongly in the direction he will steer the country,” Sharp said. “His stances on equal pay, paid time off for family illnesses and issues, affordable child care, early childhood education, nutrition and labeling of GMOs, poverty, and many other issues are especially important to women.”
Bernie is a candidate who acts with his heart, and sees the public as human beings, not dollar signs or stepping stones to benefit bigger business, said 27-year-old Jessica Hoover.
“I’ve always had access to family planning, and I can not imagine my future children not having the same right,” Hoover said. “Bernie wants to make that possible for every women in every walk of life, whether she can afford it or not.”
There is nothing worse for the morale of our country than watching few have so much, while so many have so little, Hoover said.