Sarandon promotes Sanders campaign on Mayflower Hill

On February 24, dozens of students, faculty members, and locals gathered in Page Auditorium to welcome Academy Award-winning actress, activist, and Bernie Sanders surrogate, Susan Sarandon. The visit came at the tail end of Sarandon’s statewide tour, where she spoke at several Maine colleges, including Bowdoin and University of Maine Orono. The tour came just two weeks before Maine’s caucus on Sunday, March 6, a fact that was referred to throughout the speech as Sarandon encouraged Colby students to exercise their right to vote.
Before Sarandon took the stage, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Government L. Sandy Maisel, Zoe Gibson ’17, Associate Professor of English Adrian Blevins, and President of the Colby Democrats Jane Wiesenberg made several quick introductions. Gibson and Blevins, both Sanders supporters, spoke passionately on why they are voting for the Vermont Senator. When it comes to Sanders, Gibson said, it’s “not about who he is, but who we are.” Sander’s commitment to social justice was a theme throughout the event, with Blevins saying, “a vote for Bernie isn’t a vote for class warfare. It’s not revenge we’re after, but a reckoning…for candidates pursuing politically-convenient solutions.” Wiesenberg and Maisel, by contrast, were non-partisan in their remarks and focused primarily on getting out the vote.
Brendan Leonard ’16 introduced the Thelma & Louise star as a woman with “tenacious conviction” and “unyielding compassion.” While Sarandon is most well known as an actress, she has a long history of activism, including as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and staunch opponent of the 2003 Iraq Invasion—a stance that she and Sen. Sanders share in common.
“This is an important moment,” Sarandon began. “This is not just an election. This is an ‘I tried or I didn’t try’ moment.” Sarandon spent much of her speech on discussing how urgent the problems the American people face are, focusing on her candidate’s trademark issues of inequality and the environment. She rhetorically asked, “Is he a one issue candidate? Yes, he is—the issue is us.”
At one point, she lambasted Secretary Clinton, Sanders’ primary opponent, for labeling herself a progressive. “How can you say you have a progressive agenda and still be pushing for fracking and accepting money from Monsanto?” Sarandon discussed Sander’s support for the solar industry, a $15 minimum wage, and other issues where he is “in the right place, even when it’s politically dangerous.”
Sarandon took several questions after the speech from Sanders supporters and skeptics alike. When one student expressed worries about Sander’s electability in the general election, Sarandon joked, “I think I could beat any of the candidates on the other side.” She noted that Sanders is “doing pretty well so far” and has a record of bipartisanship, “working across the aisle to pass over 300 bills.” Another student asked if Sanders’ campaign promises could realistically be fulfilled if he’s elected. Sarandon mused, “I think you’re too young to be cynical.” Sarandon stated, in order to fulfill his promises, “everyone has to stay engaged.” She noted that “Hillary would have many of the same problems,” but Bernie has grassroots on his side. While she conceded it takes a lot of energy to stay focused on politics, she said it was the only way to revive the American dream. “This is not just an election,” she concluded, “it’s a movement.”

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