High school students draw inspiration from Bernie Sanders rally

Vermont senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders made an appearance in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Feb. 23 to speak against the tax reform.

Senator+Bernie+Sanders+meets+with+Iowans+in+Cedar+Rapids+on+Friday%2C+Feb.+23+to+advocate+for+repealing+President+Donald+Trump%27s+tax+plan.
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High school students draw inspiration from Bernie Sanders rally

Senator Bernie Sanders meets with Iowans in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Feb. 23 to advocate for repealing President Donald Trump's tax plan.

Senator Bernie Sanders meets with Iowans in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Feb. 23 to advocate for repealing President Donald Trump's tax plan.

Anjali Huynh

Senator Bernie Sanders meets with Iowans in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Feb. 23 to advocate for repealing President Donald Trump's tax plan.

Anjali Huynh

Anjali Huynh

Senator Bernie Sanders meets with Iowans in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Feb. 23 to advocate for repealing President Donald Trump's tax plan.

Anjali Huynh, Reporter

Iowans got a chance to “Feel the Bern” once again when Vermont Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders returned to Iowa on Friday, Feb. 23. Though Sanders was initially only expected to visit Des Moines, he made a last minute decision to stop in Cedar Rapids as well. His visit was sponsored by Not One Penny, an organization dedicated to dismantling President Trump’s recent tax plan.

Although the rally was billed as a means for Sanders to support Not One Penny’s mission, he discussed a variety of other issues, including raising the minimum wage, getting free health care for all and, in wake of the recent Parkland shooting, imposing restrictions on gun ownership.

I say to the NRA, you cannot continue to defend a process that endangers the children and the people of this country.”

— Bernie Sanders

“I say to the NRA,” Sanders said, “you cannot continue to defend a process that endangers the children and the people of this country.”

This subject particularly resonated with West student Elisa Nisly ’19, who believes this is an important issue on the minds of young people across the nation today.

“I think that with what happened in the shooting recently, I was really personally [affected],” Nisly said. “Just from looking at those people my age who had to go through that and thinking … that could’ve been us … I think going to these rallies really inspires people to get more interested in politics and make the best choices, and also to make changes within their own lives.”

Anjali Huynh
Senator Bernie Sanders urges the audience to speak out against Trump-era policies at his Cedar Rapids rally on Friday, Feb. 23.

While hundreds of people of all backgrounds attended this rally, one demographic in particular was there to support: young people. During the 2016 presidential election, then-candidate Sanders amassed a large following of young supporters, garnering more support from young people than any other candidate. Now in 2018, it appears that his likeability amongst younger generations has not swayed.

In particular, high school students from across Eastern Iowa made appearances at the Cedar Rapids rally to show their support and get involved in the political process. Veronica Abreu, a junior at City High School, said she did not plan to come to the rally, but chose to attend to show her support and stay a part of the political process.

“It kind of happened on a whim,” Abreu said. “We knew it was happening and thought it was going to be a little too crowded, but we showed up [anyways] … Especially now in this wave of student activism, I think it’s really important for students to get involved politically. Being in the know with political speakers is really important.”

Now in this wave of student activism, I think it’s really important for students to get involved politically.”

— Veronica Abreu, City HIgh junior

Kevin Drahos, a junior at Linn-Mar High School, also emphasized the need for students to be more politically active. He himself volunteered with the Sanders campaign as a freshman, and hopes other students participate in political events to have their voices heard.

“We need the youth voice to make sure that generations to come will have ensured safety and protections in our society and make sure their voices are represented,” Drahos said. “It’s also great for them to show up because it makes sure that they’re informed and that they’re involved in the political process. To see other young people and youth here is great … it’s awesome.”

All in all, the high school students that attended the Sanders rally left the event feeling charged and inspired to take political action of their own.

“[It] was insane,” said Clara Froeschner, a junior at City High School. “I have never been to a political rally before, and I wasn’t really expecting to come, but it was awesome. That was really empowering, and I am ready to go vote.”

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