Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Mandela Barnes visits campus, urges students to maintain energy ahead of Nov. 8 midterm

‘We’ve got to let people know that we’re not leaving folks behind. That was the old way of doing things…’ Barnes says
Eddie Kustner

Candidate for Wisconsin senator Mandela Barnes hosted a meet and greet Friday at Valentia Coffee on East Campus Mall, where he rallied supporters ahead of the Nov. 8 midterm election.

Barnes is running against incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson (R). Polls show Johnson slightly ahead of Barnes, though both races are toss-ups according to Marquette Law.

The event began with an introduction from University of Wisconsin student and campaign organizer Sarah Nehls. She said that Barnes running for office energized her interest in politics.


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“I knew that Mandela was the candidate who shares my struggles and my values, and that would be a fighting voice for me and my family…in the Senate,” Nehls said.

Though students are busy, it’s crucial to find time in your schedule to remind your friends and family to register and make it to the polls on election day, Nehls said.

Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Ben Wilker said that Wisconsin’s race for senator is far closer than many might realize. The difference in polls roughly equals the three votes per precinct, Wilker said.

Wilker said the Republican Party is counting on student voters to “give up” and not take the initiative to vote Nov. 8.

“They think that they can tell you that you cannot make a difference, and if they can convince you of that it becomes true,” Wilker said. “Their models for how to win this election are premised on plummeting student voter turnout.”

The race for senator in Wisconsin determines which party holds the majority in the Senate and carries implications for the future of the United States Supreme Court, Wilker said, so the outcome of the midterm will affect students for the rest of their lives.

Barnes said the U.S. Senate as it stands doesn’t accurately represent the American people or the American dream.

Ron Johnson celebrated when Roe v. Wade was overturned and said that if women in Wisconsin didn’t like the ruling, they could move to Illinois, according to Barnes.

Barnes also said that Ron Johnson’s biggest accomplishment as Senator is the 2017 tax bill, where he secured $215 million in tax breaks for his two largest donors.

“When billionaires get tax breaks, that means less funding for your schools,” Barnes said. “That means less programs to help support you through tough times. That means that the world changes, but you don’t get to say-so in what that change looks like.”

Wisconsinites are hard-working people, and aren’t looking for handouts — they simply want equal opportunities, Barnes said.

Ron Johnson wants to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, which allows young people to remain under their parent’s health insurance, while the U.S. should be moving towards universal health care, Barnes said.

“This person [Ron Johnson] was completely just not understanding how things work,” Barnes said. “He’s either playing politics, or he’s lying to our faces. All three of those things are disqualifying. He has shown a complete disregard and contempt for our future.”

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Barnes also called for increased minimum wage, climate justice, reproductive rights and affordable higher education at the event. Democrats want to help turn the American dream into the American reality, Barnes said.

Regardless of the results of the November midterm, young people should think ahead to future elections and continue their organization and activism, Barnes said.

“We have done incredibly bold things before — Ron Johnson does not truly represent who we are. You represent who we are, you are truly the best of us,” Barnes said. “And for those folks who still may not get it, once you leave this room, just let them know that this is a fight for freedom.”

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