This article originally appeared at coachellaunincorporated.org.
Editor’s Note: With the Iowa caucus just weeks away, recent poll numbers suggest Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders is giving his rival Hillary Clinton a run for her money. According to an influential poll, Sanders is running just 3 points behind Clinton in the state. In California’s predominantly Spanish-speaking Eastern Coachella Valley, younger Latinos are responding to Sanders’ message, upending the narrative that his appeal does not extend beyond white voters. Coachella Uninc. youth reporter Olivia Rodriguez spoke to young people in the community about why they support the Vermont senator’s bid.
Most presidential candidates put so much emphasis on boosting the middle class but always seem to ignore those of us who now live or have lived below the poverty level. The current political structure is not benefiting the country’s working class and we are clearly not a priority on Capitol Hill … Unlike the establishment Democratic Party, Bernie Sanders challenges the status quo by keeping his focus on the interests of not only the working class, but of America as a whole.
“I also like the way Bernie Sanders has already increased the civic engagement among young people. I once participated in an action to raise awareness around the need for student aid at Capitol Hill. The only politician who came out to support us was Senator Bernie Sanders. As a student, when I hear presidential candidates speak about university issues, that really matters to me.”
– Neftali Galarza, 21
“I support Sanders because he is the candidate who most closely represents my ideals and values. I knew about Sanders way before he announced his candidacy and I was very glad to know that he had taken that step. One issue that has interested me is that he wants to make college tuition free. This will have a positive impact on me, my siblings and communities around the country.”
– Yolanda Moreno, 22
“As an environmentalist I support Sanders because he has been against the XL pipeline and the Trans-Pacific Partnership since the beginning, which is not something all presidential candidates can say. Lastly, one of the biggest reasons I support Sanders is that he plans on enforcing antitrust laws in the United States in order to support small farmers in the agriculture industry, which is currently dominated by large corporations. This would help create a better standard of living for families in the Eastern Coachella Valley. He also plans to invest in rebuilding infrastructure so that rural communities can gain access to services like broadband and high speed Internet expansion. Bernie seems to have a good understanding of the state that rural communities are in, the services that rural communities lack and he is committed to finding ways of addressing these challenges.”
– Araceli Beltran, 23
“A lot of youth in the Eastern Coachella Valley see college as not affordable, a shattered dream. Because of his emphasis on college affordability, Sanders can be that spark for us to regain confidence and make a bigger difference.”
– Diana Castellanos, 19
The current political structure is not benefiting the country’s working class.
“Being a college student, I know the sacrifices students make when they take out loans to pay for college. Oftentimes, even after graduating students have trouble paying off debt. Bernie Sanders says that if elected he will reduce interest on student loans and work to make public colleges and universities free. I think these dreams are worth having … if other countries can offer free tuition then America shouldn’t be too far behind. Bernie Sanders has also shown that he stands alongside immigrants and that he will tackle the inequality of wealth here in America. There are no more prevalent issues than these in our Valley.”
– Arturo Castellanos Jr., 22
“Sanders support for free college tuition holds tremendous promise for communities in the Eastern Coachella Valley. It can offer our youth the choice to attend college, it can offer our current college students the opportunity to dedicate more time to their studies so that one day we can become leaders and keep working toward a better future. If Bernie Sanders were elected it seems that he would offer future possibilities to all. To young people in the Eastern Coachella Valley he’s already having an impact.”
– Olivia Rodriguez, 22