Local group provides opportunities for Sanders supporters


Toby Davis

Joplin for Bernie

Toby Davis

The race for the White House is underway and heating up all the time. As of this week, both Tom Steyer, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, and Michael Bloomburg have dropped out as Democratic candidates. There are currently four candidates on the Democratic ticket for the upcoming primaries. 

For students at Missouri Southern, this is an opportunity to get involved in the community and have their voices be heard. 

There are several active groups in the city of Joplin and the surrounding areas who hope to educate voters on the candidates running and how their proposed policies may affect their lives. 

According to a Chegg Election Tracker poll, which surveyed over 1,500 college students, Bernie Sanders is the leading candidate among individuals attending colleges and universities. He sits 15 points ahead of Elizabeth Warren, who came in second. A Collegereaction.com poll shared similar results. 

The supporters of Sanders have been highly regarded for their grassroots efforts over the past several years, gaining the attention of the country for their donations, enthusiasm and community involvement. For Southern students who consider Sanders their candidate of choice and wish to spread awareness, an organization exists right in Joplin for that opportunity. 

Joplin for Bernie has been active since the 2016 presidential race and is looking for new faces to become a part of the movement. The group initially started out as a Facebook page, a simple channel for supporters to communicate. It quickly became an active organization within the community. Josh Lockwood is a moderator and event organizer within the group. 

“I first got involved in politics in 2008, when Barack Obama was running for president,” Lockwood said. “I canvassed and phone banked during that election and attended several events here in town.” 

In 2015, Lockwood again became involved in politics, this time as an organizer for the Sanders campaign and as administrator for the Joplin for Bernie Facebook page. In February 2016, he traveled to Tulsa to work with organizers at a Sanders rally which drew nearly 15,000 attendees. 

So, why Sanders?  

“Single-payer health care, first and foremost,” Lockwood said. “I grew up with my uncle who had to fight tooth and nail for his health care due to diabetes. Health care was the big one.” 

Joplin for Bernie hosts meetings each weekend at the Joplin Public Library to discuss the week’s political news and plan their next event. A meeting held on Sunday, March 1, was attended by over 20 individuals. 

One topic of discussion included a door-to-door canvassing outing that would take place later that day. Members also discussed their favorite alternative news sources and where to find unbiased opinions on local, regional and national politics. 

“We attempt to canvas and phone bank pretty often,” Lockwood said. “Not only do we do presidential elections, but we are active for congressional, senatorial and gubernatorial races, too. We have even canvassed for Joplin city council.” 

Joplin for Bernie has organized many events for the Joplin community, including potlucks and a “Barbecue for Bernie.” The group even hosts debate watch parties at local establishments. 

“We work with small-business owners to hold our events,” said Lockwood. “Certain businesses, such as Blackthorn Pizza and Pub, will have certain specials during events, so that encourages people to get out and support local business as well.” 

Students who wish to get involved can visit the Joplin for Bernie Facebook page. 

“They can find my direct phone number on there and give me a call,” said Lockwood. 

The weekly meetings are held in the Joplin Public Library on either the Saturday or Sunday of that week. Be sure to check the Facebook page for confirmation. At the meetings, students can learn more about canvassing, phone banking and upcoming events.