Students must continue and expand Sanders’ dialogue

Carl Karouta

While Austin has long hosted open political dialogue, the Bernie Sanders campaign has inspired students to engage in policy in a productive and beneficial manner. UT has the potential to become the center of political exchanges and activism, but it’s up to students to sustain and amplify this phenomenon. 

Addressing a GDC classroom full of Bernie Sanders supporters Tuesday night, UT government professor James Galbraith said, “Bernie represents a chance to do something with this country.” He and former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich comprise just two of 170 economists and financial experts who commend Bernie’s plan for comprehensive reform.

The support arrived because the plan works. Bernie advocates for raising the minimum wage and for a Medicare-for-all system. The minimum wage hike he suggests would help businesses by giving Americans more to spend. His healthcare plan would actually cost Americans less on average.

This runs contrarily to the beliefs of conservatives who claim to side with the economy. Conservative, corporate-friendly policies are detrimental to the national economy as they further damaging inequality. Part of the money corporations save from tax breaks goes into financing the campaigns of politicians who push more tax breaks.

Equality is good, but that is not the issue. The issue is that inequality serves as a direct threat to democracy. A democracy is not effective when it is an indispensable campaign strategy of an entire political party to limit voter turnout.

Economics freshman Akshat Gautam believes reform is vital to correct this broken political system.

“Hopefully, policymakers will realize a shift towards an economy driven by the masses rather than the elite,” Gautam said. “Right now, it is necessary for students to push for that shift.”

People have listened. Across the country, thousands of grassroots organizers are reaching out to voters and volunteers to spread the word about Bernie. Organizations like UT Austin Students for Bernie Sanders, who hosted this event, have helped him rise in polls to lead in New Hampshire and Iowa today from less than four percent nationally one year ago. Just within a ten-mile radius of UT, there are 56 organizing events in the next week.

Katie Aplis, a facilitator for UT Austin Students for Bernie Sanders, works to encourage action among students. 

“I’m glad that we’ve mobilized so many students,” Aplis said. “We need to show people that every vote matters.”

Concerns exist that these organizations are short lived in that organizers will become cynical and discouraged in the case of a Clinton nomination or complacent and inactive in the case of a Sanders presidency. Students must make sure that doesn’t happen. In Austin, this policy discussion must be here to stay.

Karouta is a Chemical Engineering freshman from Plano.