by Andrea Burns
My mom, Anne Burns, and I have been canvassing most Saturdays since November for Senator Sanders. My brother owns a home in Hartand, Vermont, a 20-minute drive from the campaign office in West Lebanon, NH. We usually go door to door or drive campaign volunteers without cars to canvass, but this past Saturday, two weeks before the New Hampshire primary February 11th, we did something a little different.
There is a very large housing development of older residents between West Leb and Hanover. Since the senator has the least support among voters 50+, we made copies of a flyer outlining how his policies would help older people, from enhanced Medicare for All (which would eliminate deductibles and copays and would include dental, hearing and vision coverage), to Social Security, which he has strongly advocated expanding since he first came to Congress in 1991. We handed them out to everyone we saw, and slipped them between the cracks of the doors.
We had a long conversation with a woman named Mary who had organized forums with representatives from all the campaigns. I could tell she was not a Sanders supporter (more likely for Buttigieg, who seems to have a lot of support among older people), but she didn’t come right out and say it. My mom, at one point, asked, “What is your hesitation about Senator Sanders?” She told us her husband had been a businessman and when he wanted to move his business into the City of Burlington, at the time Senator Sanders was mayor, he thought Sanders made the businesses pay too much to operate there. I asked, “Did your husband not bring his business into Burlington?” She said, “Oh no, he did.”
We were running out of daylight and after saying goodbye to Mary, headed to the Wal Mart in West Lebanon, hoping we could reach a lot of people at a time. We switched over to handing out little palm cards with a timeline of his long social justice record and asking, “Are you planning on voting in the primary on February 11th?” A few people hurried past us, and quite a few said they weren’t voting. A woman dressed in hot pink pants from Missouri actually ran away from us when we said we were volunteers for Sanders (I think she was a Trump supporter)!
The overwhelming majority, however, said they like Bernie and a few had personal stories about him, since we are close to Vermont. A dairy farmer and his sister from Randolph told me that once during a really bad snow storm, Sanders had shoveled the snow from her friend’s driveway. Another man said he had moved from New Hampshire to Vermont because he couldn’t get health care in NH and definitely supported the Senator. Lots of women took the palm card and said they were voting for Sanders. A Wal Mart employee who was sitting on a bench outside on break also took one, saying “My whole family is for Bernie.”
We had been outside the Wal Mart for over an hour before we were asked to leave by a rather angry manager. We realized someone going in must have tipped her off. When we got in the car, my mom was quiet. She said, “Next time we will only get the people coming out.”
The Burns for Bernie duo will be back on the trail for GOTV (Get Out The Vote) this weekend, through primary day. We have a sense of urgency. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to elect a man of Senator Sanders’ character. His policies, from Medicare for All and a Green New Deal to a foreign policy based on human rights and diplomacy, will transform this country into a more caring and compassionate nation.
—Andrea Burns is a member of Mass. Peace Action’s Board of Directors and co-chair of its Legislative and Political Committee.