La Verne faculty weigh in on presidential primary

Alondra Campos
Staff Writer

With Super Tuesday just around the corner, voters are preparing to vote, pollsters and ULV professors are making predictions – and all putting Bernie Sanders in the lead for the democratic nomination.

There are currently eight democrats running for the chance to challenge Donald Trump in November.

Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, is in first place in poles and delegates followed by former Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg – according to most polls and profs.

Though it’s still too early to predict who will win the democratic nomination.

Raul Perez, professor of sociology, said he supports Sanders’ proposals, which he believes will improve the lives of people from different communities. And he appreciates Sanders’ attempts to emphasize diversity.

“Ever since the 2016 election, Sanders caught my eye,” Perez said. “He speaks to a broad coalition of people across the board and is aware that different people in different areas of the country need different things.”

Medicare for all, one of Sanders’ platforms, would be a single-payer, national health insurance to include dental, hearing, vision and home and community-based long-term care.

It would ensure that no one in America pays over $200 a year for the medications they need.

Perez said that his expertise in sociology makes him more aware of societal changes as well as how candidates use strategies to reel in votes.

“Candidates may say what a particular group wants to hear so they could get the votes, but won’t stand by their word,” Perez said. “This has been going on for a long time and people are getting tired of that.”

Jason Niedleman, professor of political science, also supports Sanders, and thinks he may be the best Democrat to beat Donald Trump.

“My research is currently on political storytelling and analyzing stories the candidates are presenting,” Niedleman said. “Voters like to hear stories they can relate to.”

In order to have a compelling story, a candidate must address three questions: Who are we? Where are we going? And what stands in our way, Niedleman said.

“Sanders addresses ‘we’ as the working class and middle class,” Niedleman said. “He wants to get to a just society focused on equal treatment and millionaires and billionaires are what stands in the way of that according to his story.”

Niedleman said the media also have an impact on the portrayal of voters and mechanisms they use to elect their preferred candidate.

“Media coverage tends to focus on where candidates lie on the political spectrum,” Niedleman said. “But the reality is that voters don’t necessarily base their choices on whether the candidate is left or right. They vote for the candidate who best represents them and is the most relatable.”

Niedleman added that Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former Republican New York mayor – also running in the Democratic primary – has complicated things.

“If you have Bloomberg winning, you have both parties taken over by multi-billionaires, neither of who reflect the ideology of either party,” Niedleman said.

Along with Sanders, Niedleman said Elizabeth Warren, senator from Massachusetts, also makes a good candidate.

“I would like to see Sanders as president and Warren as Secretary of Treasury,” Niedleman said.
Sanders and Warren are also at the top of the list for Joseph Cabrera, professor of sociology and criminology.

“I agree that the economic system is broken and it’s going to take more than a band-aid to fix it,” Cabrera said. “I believe Sanders takes a more radical solution to fix this whereas Warren takes a more feasible and practical solution.”

Cabrera said he would like to see someone tackle the student loan crisis in the United States.

“I think both Sanders and Warren address the heavy issue of student debt repeatedly and strive to provide reasonable solutions,” Cabrera said. “Warren speaks a lot about bankruptcy and Sanders has been working to fix this since his last election.”

Although Sanders has support, there are still those who do not see enough evidence that prove his tactics will be executed correctly.

“There is not enough substance in regards to how things are getting paid for in Bernie’s plans for Medicare and student debt,” Ryan Lee, professor of economics, said.

Lee said Sanders’ proposal of a payroll tax is also flawed since he does not provide a way to ensure that companies will actually pay the tax to raise enough money to pay for his Medicare for All plan.

“Out of the candidates left, I would say Warren is the best one from an economist point of view,” Lee said. “She likes capitalism and acknowledges what is not working in our current system and works with what we do have to make it better.”

Allyson Brantley, assistant professor of history, said there are patterns in this election that she has seen evident in the past 50 years of elections in the U.S.

“Every candidate tries to appeal to the working class but never specifically defines who the working class is,” Brantley said. “The working class today is not the same working class it once was years ago.”

Voters in this election will likely be more skeptical of the candidates and their promises, especially after the 2016 presidential election, said Brantley.

Voters registered as Democrats will be able to vote in the primaries on Tuesday.

Alondra Campos can be reached at

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