Six months at Bernie’s

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Everyone’s Jewish uncle convinces one Canadian to come and support him. Wikimedia Commons

U of R student volunteers south of the border

Matt Fedler, a political science student at the University of Regina, has always been interested in the process of deciding on a nation’s leader. The former provincial and federal NDP hopeful has taken on a new adventure for the next few months, travelling to northern New Hampshire to volunteer for the Bernie Sanders campaign.

How does one end up on the doorstep of rural Americans fresh off of an effort to become the NDP candidate in Regina Elphinstone-Centre? Through a friend.

“Bernie Sanders has been a pretty inspirational figure to me. He’s one of the big reasons I’ve been so politically active in the last two years and I had an opportunity, a connection with a friend [ . . . ] They connected me here and I decided to throw my classes online and come on down and join the political revolution.”

The former U of R wrestler said he was already pretty familiar with the Vermont Senator’s platform. The democratic front runner sparked Fedler’s interest because of his approach on Indigenous issues.

“He was the first American politician I can recall pretty consistently speaking about Native American rights and treaty rights down here. He’s also the first north American politician I have heard speaking about universal tuition-free college and university, which speaks to me as a young person and a young Indigenous person.”

Recent polling numbers have been described by the folks at Fivethirtyeight.com as “pretty weird.” Their model has Sanders with a one-in-four chance of convincing more than half the delegates in the Democratic primary. That puts him behind everyone’s problematic woke uncle, Joe Biden, and slightly ahead of the chance that no one meets that benchmark. For context, Warren is at one-in-eight and Buttigieg (or as our news editor’s dad calls him, Mayo Pete) is sitting at one-in-twelve.

Fedler believes that the concerns of Americans primarily have to do with getting rid of Donald Trump.

“I would say, absolutely, the number one concern seems to be getting the current occupant of the White House an eviction notice. Everyone wants the candidate that’s best suited to defeat Trump and obviously I personally believe that’s Bernie. The other, I think, pretty consistent major issue is climate change.”

“It’s one thing I’m gaining from being here is just it’s beautiful here in northern New Hampshire. A skiing destination, beautiful mountains, and trees everywhere. So I can understand why they’re concerned about the environment.”

Fedler says he has typical duties like putting up signs and knocking on doors but hopes to bring more of a Canadian family feel to the process.

“The sort of community feel of the campaign office where you have volunteers bringing in food, pretty much every single day during a campaign, and that’s not just in Canada, but in Saskatchewan itself.  So, fostering that kind of community feel isn’t lacking at all in the Bernie campaign, it’s just a matter of maybe putting [it] into action.”

The Democratic Convention will be held in mid-July, with the American election being on Nov. 3. Matt, like many Saskatchewan voters, also has his mind on our own provincial election, the date of which is Nov. 2. The latest widely-reported on polls from Mainstreet Research (from March 2019) had the NDP pulling 31.2 per cent of the vote against the Sask. Party’s 55 per cent. The margin was much closer in Regina, with the numbers narrowing to 37.9 per cent pulling for orange and 42.4 per cent swayed towards the incumbent (mostly guys) in green. Rurally, those numbers ballooned, with the Sask. Party more than doubling their competitor’s number in all of the places not named Saskatoon or Regina.

Fedler plans to stay until after the primary and perhaps as late as the conventions or the later federal campaign, if he can find a job south of the border as the calendar turns to November. If not, he says he has his eyes on the land of living skies’ next turn at the polls.

“Obviously we have our own provincial election coming up in October and I’d be more than happy to come back and get right back into the swing of things in Saskatchewan.”

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