On Thursday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) came to Rutgers to speak to the University community alongside several speakers at the “Get Out the Vote” rally on the College Avenue campus.
The event was held as part of Murphy’s reelection campaign for New Jersey governor and was attended by approximately 1,100 people, according to an article from NJ Advance Media.
The rally featured several speakers prior to Murphy and Sanders, including Miguel Ribau, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and president of RU Progressive, Rebecca Givan, president of the Rutgers chapter of the American Association of University Professors—American Federation of Teachers, and Analilia Mejia, a Rutgers alumna working on Sanders' team.
Each speaker individually discussed their support for Murphy in the upcoming election and their reasons for supporting him, which included Murphy’s actions toward supporting curriculum inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community, raising the minimum wage, environmental justice laws and pay equity, among others.
Murphy followed the speakers with his own speech at the rally, where he mainly discussed the progress that New Jersey has made throughout his term regarding the legalization of marijuana, the increase of affordability in health care and his signing of the millionaire's tax.
He proceeded his speech by strongly urging the audience to vote in this upcoming election.
“Especially for your generation, this is all about you ... and your future, and your families, and everybody in this state — especially as we celebrate our incredible diversity, the most diverse state in the United States of America,” Murphy said.
Sanders spoke after Murphy and also discussed why he believes it is critical to vote in this election, especially for young people.
He said that anyone who is interested in an environment that is clean, getting a decent job when they get out of school, being able to go to school without coming out deeply in debt, having access to health care or protecting women’s rights and gay rights needs to get involved by voting for Murphy this election given his support for these issues.
Sanders discussed various topics and their significance to the upcoming election and to the current state of the country overall. These included raising the minimum wage, achieving equal pay and affordable higher education, fighting income inequality, shifting away from fossil fuel and combating climate change, among others.
He said it is necessary to continue working toward creating a government that will focus on these issues and respond to the needs of the working class people instead of one that is only interested in the needs of the rich and powerful.
“I am here because I worry very much about the future of American democracy and the movement of this country toward an authoritarian society,” Sanders said. “And the truth of the matter is there are tens of millions of Americans who are giving up on democracy, who have lost faith in government — their government— who believe that in their pain, in their struggles, nobody is listening to them.”
Multiple Rutgers students who attended the rally discussed their reactions and opinions in regards to the event and the speakers.
Melissa Buechert, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said that she wanted to attend this event because she has been a big fan of Sanders since the 2016 presidential election. She said one of the reasons she likes him is because he is worried about the things that really affect her future.
In regards to moments throughout the event that particularly stood out, Buerchert said that she didn’t know how close the race was going to be, and it made her realize that she feels the need to push her family to go out and vote.
“I think minimum wage and a lot of social issues are really important for a state like New Jersey because everything's really expensive here,” she said. “It's really hard for a lot of families to live with how much money they make now.”
Buechert said the event made her realize how progressive Murphy is, which is something she really likes, as before she attended the rally she always thought he was more moderate.
Reese Garcia, a School of Engineering sophomore and local political youth organizer, said he believes the way that Murphy advocates for voting rights is especially important.
“He stands out as a governor who wants to make sure that everybody can vote and that it's accessible, which is very contrary to what a lot of other governors believe in,” Garcia said.
Ed Walker, a Rutgers Business School sophomore, said that while he was completely decided on who he planned to vote for before attending the event, he said he was happy to hear Murphy and Sanders discuss certain topics such as pension plans and payments as well as pushing for negotiations in Washington, D.C.
He also said that he found Murphy to be very interactive with the audience throughout the event which he enjoyed.
“I was really happy with the turnout and everything and what was said,” Walker said. “It was exciting.”