Feeling the Bern: US Election 2016

I am the first person to admit that I’m a massive politics nerd. I probably look at the news at least twice a day and I’ve been following this year’s US presidential election very closely. Although I would be ashamed to say that I wasn’t considering I am a politics student doing my year abroad in the US! Election fever has taken over the country and the run up to election day (8th November) has been a rollercoaster for  both Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton. I’ve even got involved with the election myself, despite being unable to vote! One of my classes here requires that I volunteer with a political organisation and myself and some friends decided to volunteer at the Democratic Party’s office downtown. I was slightly sceptical, as volunteering for class was something I’d never done before but I’ve had some amazing experiences.

It’s not all about the president

14495238_681619975322616_7896744312969524289_n With Nikki Bagley, our candidate for Arizona State Senate

The 8th November is not just election day for president, there are also plenty more local races on the ballot. US citizens will also be voting for members of the national Congress, state Congress, city councils and mayors. As part of my volunteering we’ve also campaigned for these offices. I have taken part in a variety of roles, from getting people registered to vote on campus, to some phone banking. Phone banking involves calling up local voters and talking to them about the candidates running for office. I get to talk to such a variety of people and there have been some colourful characters, most people are willing to chat but let’s just say I’ve gotten used to being hung up on and shouted at!

Young Dems on campus

dscn2285 Me and some of my fellow Young Dems

I have also joined the Young Dems club on campus. It’s pretty similar to the Politics Society at Essex. We get together once a week to discuss current issues in US politics and around the world. Me and the other British members have become the resident experts on all things Brexit! We’ve also gotten together and held presidential debate parties, obviously involving lots of food to help get us through Donald and Hilary’s squabbling.

Bernie Sanders comes to visit!

dscn2273 Senator Bernie Sanders speaking at NAU

Another great perk of being involved with the Democratic Party is getting to be VIPs at the events they organise. On the 18th October, Senator Bernie Sanders came to visit my university to give a speak on behalf of the Clinton campaign. I headed down to the auditorium after my class and there were hundreds of people waiting to get in, but luckily I had reserved seats with the Democrats and we had a great view. Now, as a self professed politics nerd, I think this will probably be one of the best moments of my year abroad! Bernie spoke about many topics including Trump, education, health, immigration and the environment. He was a great speaker and his talk was often interrupted with cheers from the crowd. After his speech he came down to the audience and I was lucky enough to meet him and take a selfie!

Living in America whilst the election is taking place is an amazing experience. I’ve immersed myself into US politics in a way that would have been impossible in the UK. Whilst it’s unknown what the future holds for both Arizona and the country I’m sure the rollercoaster ride will continue for some time!

14805642_10154592499121407_385890681_n Our (very blurry) selfie with Bernie!

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