« Beers for Bernie » – expatriate Bernie fans unite around beers in Toulouse

6 mars 2020
Bernie Sanders came out of Super Tuesday losing to Joe Biden.
Bernie Sanders came out of Super Tuesday losing to Joe Biden (Credit : Gage Skimore, Flickr, CC-BY)

In Toulouse, Americans are campaigning for Bernie Sanders, a favourite for the Democratic primary in the United States. Convinced that their vote can make a difference, they are not worried about the first results of Super Tuesday, which put Joe Biden, his main rival, in front.

What better way to support a candidate than to gather young people around a beer ?  Sitting at a table, Matthew Sorola is drinking one in the London Town, a pub located at Rue des Prêtres, Toulouse. Beside him is a sign: « Bernie« , the symbol of Bernie Sanders fans. On 3 and 10 March, expatriates are called to vote for the Democratic primaries. Their event is important because their vote will potentially empower 13 of the delegates who will nominate the Democratic candidate for the November presidential elections against Donald Trump.

In the previous campaign in 2016, 3,000 people voted in the Democratic primary, according to official statistics. It was Sanders who came out on top ahead of Hillary Clinton, who was eventually inducted as the Democratic nominee. In 2020, 78-year-old Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is running again. He is the one that Matthew has decided to support : « He represents a change. He’s going to make things simpler for people« . 

« Americans have never known any better »

The 35-year-old Texan has been a volunteer in the France for Bernie movement for a few months, having arrived in France last September. Launched in 2015, France for Bernie is present in several cities such as Lyon, Paris and Bordeaux and organises parties called : Beers for Bernie. Matthew is the organiser in Toulouse. He is in charge of advising American expatriates and supporters of Bernie Sanders, such as Kasha. This young woman, originally from Seattle, joined Sanders when Pete Buttigieg dropped out of the campaign: « I liked Pete because he was young but now I support Bernie because he has ideas that are close to my heart such as wiping out student debt.  »

For his part, Matthew, who left the United States 15 years ago, has been supporting Bernie since he realised that the American system is far from being the best : « I pay my taxes in France, I wanna go see the doctor, I see the doctor, it’s easy and I don’t worry about it. But Americans have never known any better. They don’t know what it’s like to have social safety« .

Super Tuesday : Bernie loses to Joe Biden.

But while Sanders was the favourite, it was Biden who came first in Super Tuesday. Matthew is obviously disappointed, but he’s not giving up hope : « Super Tuesday isn’t definitive. It would be nice and simple if it was. It’s not great but Bernie won in California by a lot. He did well but not well enough to secure the nomination. I’m sad because I wanted him to win. But also I understand how much that can change. I think it will be a very long fight. Super Tuesday wasn’t win or lose and that’s it. It’s the first part of a very long contest« .

And even though Bloomberg, who left the campaign after Super Tuesday, called for a vote for Biden, he doubts that this will have any weight in the results : « Nobody that I know that was voting for Bloomberg. Nobody that I know likes Bloomberg. For me, Bloomberg’s contribution will not count« . 

« Centrist Democrats in the US are Republicans »

According to Matthew, the cause of Sanders’ defeat would be that he was considered too extreme by the Centrist Democrats. « Centrist Democrats in the US are Republicans. Bernie represents something different from the mainstream party. If he was running in France I think he would be a moderate. But Americans think that capitalism is amazing and socialism is bad. So, you are challenging the way that people have evovled their entire life and that’s scary for them. And that’s what makes people afraid of socialism« , Matthew explains.

Nevertheless, he understands why some Americans vote centrist : « People are just tired of Trump’s tweets, his relationship with North Korea, for example. So I can understand why people vote in the middle« . But the Texan says Biden wouldn’t make a good candidate for president : « I think Biden is a really weak candidate. Nobody loves Biden« . According to him, Bernie is the only one who can beat Trump. Answer on November 3rd.

Héloïse Thépaut

Etudiante en troisième année à L'ISJT, pigiste à La Tribune Toulouse, passée par 100% radio, La Dépêche du Midi et Boudu

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