why tennessee thomas is voting for bernie sanders in 2016

As we gear up for the 2016 election, the influential and activist friends of i-D speak up for their beliefs. First up: DJ/musician/shopkeeper/activist Tennessee Thomas, who is campaigning for Bernie!

by Tennessee Thomas
05 October 2015, 3:55pm

Tennessee (at far right) with Bernie Sanders and friends

I am supporting Bernie Sanders, the progressive Democratic candidate running for President in 2016, because he is talking about all of the issues I care about: climate change, equality for all, a fair economy and getting big money out of politics.

These are issues I first heard raised in Zuccotti Park during Occupy Wall Street. When I moved to New York from California four years ago, I became massively inspired by the Occupy movement. It was exciting to find other people talking about the problems affecting many Americans, which bizarrely are not part of the mainstream dialogue. Along with 11 other Occupiers, we set up a group called the Awareness Experiment and hosted some very successful town hall meetings in downtown Manhattan, with "think tanks" on different issues.

Excited about the conversation we were having, I thought we needed a clubhouse, a place to continue this dialogue. I rented a space at 156 1st Avenue in the East Village two years ago, which I named The Deep End Club. It is a place to gather and talk about issues, and build a community around change. A forum for local artists to share their creations. We host teach-ins on issues ranging from women's reproductive rights to recycling & sustainability. And now we are using it to register people to vote and raise awareness about a candidate talking about all these things: Bernie Sanders.

Bernie Sanders wants America to be a country where college education is free, healthcareis accessible, people working 40 hours a week aren't living in poverty, and the energy systemis transformed away from fossil fuels towards energy efficiency and sustainability. These are all things that the majority of young people I know want. Things that are already happening in other places in the world (hello, Scandinavia!). It's hard to believe we have to fight for such essential societal building blocks. And it doesn't feel like we live in the richest nation on earth if unemployment and child poverty rates are as high as they are.

Bernie has found where all of the money is going: into the pockets of the wealthiest people in this country. 99% of all new income goes to the top one percent, and one-tenth of that one percent owns as much wealth as the poorest 90%. As he says, "A Nation will not survive morally or economically when so few have so much, while so many have so little."

Bernie has been consistent on where he stands on campaign issues, and he's got an answer for everything. He has been Vermont's sole congressman in the House of Representatives for 16 years, and he is now serving his second term in the U.S. Senate. Bernie won re-election in 2012 after earning 71 percent of the vote. He has held the same positions on these issues consistently since the 70s!

Straight talk is what we need and Bernie's approach is refreshing. He is building a truly modern movement using social media, and grassroots community organizing. He needs us if we want him to win! At The Deep End Club we have been hosting Activist Training Sessions, and sending campaigners out onto the streets with clipboards, registering people to vote and having conversations about Bernie and where he stands on the issues.

Unlike most other major candidates, Bernie Sanders doesn't have a super PAC, relying instead on small independent donations. His campaign is doing groundbreaking digital fundraising, announcing this week that he had raised $26 million dollars from online donations since July. To put this in context, Hillary Clinton has raised only $2 million more with the aid of a super PAC. (And Bernie is frugal with his donations, even flying coach on the campaign trail.) This is unprecedented, but what is required. Candidates who accept donations from corporations are indebted to them in some way. Bernie doesn't want their money. He wants things to change!

Enough is enough. Corporate greed is not only destroying many people's lives, but also the planet. Our voices aren't being listened to by the government. A radical change is what is required, and Bernie Sanders is calling for a true political revolution. We need a president who has the people's interests in mind, not the interests of billionaires and corporations.

People are ready for change. Big change! And Bernie Sanders is giving people hope! He is a radical guy but he's making sense. Bernie is with the people, and many of the people I know are with Bernie. Are you with us? Check out the facts for yourself, and decide what you'd like for the future of your country.


Text Tennessee Thomas
Images courtesy Tennessee Thomas

Bernie Sanders
elections 2016
Tennessee Thomas
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