With 12 Democratic primaries and caucuses coming up on March 1—also known as Super Tuesday—the race to be the Democratic nominee for president of the United States is entering a crucial phase.
And with 865 delegates up for grabs, some local American citizens are definitely beginning to "Feel the Bern", to use the parlance of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign.
“This is an historic election,” says Julie Boton, a Chicago native and cofounder of B.C. for Bernie. “The big story here is that there’s an insurgency; we’re trying to restore the Democratic Party to be representative of the majority interest.”
Indeed, as Sanders battles former secretary of state Hillary Clinton for the presidential nomination, Boton makes clear that there’s a struggle at hand for the very heart and soul of the party itself.
“The mainstream Democratic party has basically become moderate Republicans,” she explains. “There is an ideological split between the corporate Blue-Dog [conservative] Democrats and the more progressive wing of the party, and Senator Sanders represents a chance to turn the party back toward its base. We don’t want to stand up for the rights of Wall Street or big pharmacy companies, that’s not why we joined the party.”
Boton also stresses that Sanders, who bills himself as a democratic socialist and was elected to the Senate as an independent, has values that resonate not only with Democrats but with those of most Canadians.
“This is an issues-oriented campaign, and it’s about policies that affect Canada. Senator Sanders is the only candidate who has come out publicly with a very strong statement on climate change,” Boton says. “If Canada seeks a friend to help preserve our groundwater and not turn B.C. into a fossil-fuel theme park, then Senator Sanders’s policies would be much more in line with those kind of values of environmental protection.”
Although Sanders’s campaign has surged in the past month (he leads in the popular vote despite the fact that Clinton holds more delegates), Boton makes it clear that an effective get-out-the-vote effort will be necessary to make a Super Tuesday a success.
“Voter turnout is what this is all about,” Boton says. “You need a huge popular turnout when you’re up against big-money interests.”
For Americans living here in Vancouver, Boton points out that there are two ways to vote: either by absentee mail ballot through their home state or locally as part of the Democrats Abroad global presidential primary (see below for information).
Although only Americans may actually vote or donate to the Sanders campaign, Boton says anyone is welcome to lend a hand.
“Canadians who wish to help this effort can participate in our phone banking,” she says, “which is canvassing via phone. We are phone banking to help increase poll turnout and to give the Sanders campaign the data that it needs to ensure the best result. We encourage anyone who wants to know more about B.C. for Bernie, or to volunteer, to go on our Facebook page and message us—we get back to everyone promptly.
“There are very important issues at stake here for Canada, and anyone who can be involved in this very important election should be. It’s a gargantuan effort to create a more equitable and just political system throughout North America.”
For local American Democrats looking to vote in person in the Global Presidential Primary, Democrats Abroad Vancouver will have voting centres at the following locations:
Tuesday (March 1), 6-8pm: Cedar Cottage Pub, 3728 Clark Drive, Vancouver
Tuesday (March 1), 6-8pm: Sammy J. Pepper’s, 15770 Croydon Drive, Surrey
Saturday (March 5), 1-5pm: The Wolf and Hound, 3617 West Broadway, Vancouver
(American voters must be 18+ and hold a valid American passport)