On an icy February day, Clay Mitchell stood on the sidewalk of Manchester, New Hampshire bar playing a beat-up acoustic guitar decorated with a Bernie Sander’s sticker. Bundled up in a scarf, overcoat, and shades he came from Oklahoma to sing in support Sanders in the primary.
We lost our shoes, we lost our shirts,
the rich get richer and the poor eat dirt.
We’ve been fooled, we’ve been fooled.
Political campaigns attract a range of supporters from guitar strumming troubadours to traditional door-knowing campaigners in the months leading up to each presidential election. Sanders to Trump, Democrat to Republican – some of the most enthusiastic campaigners show their support in unusual ways – both online and in person. From painting the side of an elephant to riding cross-country in a sky-blue Sanders school bus, In February news teams, reporters, campaign staff, and the candidates themselves descend on New Hampshire.
Clay Mitchell said he traveled 1,700 miles to support Sanders. Back home, he didn’t really feel like people understand Bernie, “where I live “communist”, “socialist” scares everybody, even really liberal people are afraid of the word even though we know what he means by it.” But here in New Hampshire he’s free to sing about the rich getting richer. And Sander’s campaign has taken notice. Digital Team Senior Advisor Zack Exley said, “Clay’s songs are amazing… We now have the sound track for the revolution.”
Michael Buckley, a 60-year-old artist and political activist from Florida, also came from out of town to support Sanders. He stood in front of a large light blue school bus in a black beanie, sweatshirt, and classic blue jeans braving the cold with a chicken in hand. The artist exhibited a 70’s hippie lifestyle from his long untamed hair to living full time in a school bus powered on vegetable oil and solar panels while driving across the country for rallies. Buckley and his chicken “Mr. Clucky” traveled from Florida in a blue-painted school bus covered in Bernie posters, stickers, and American flags. The inside of the bus is complete with hand-make bunk beds, a fold out stage for rallies, and a water heater to keep the bus warm year round.
Buckley and the Bernie bus have been participating in Bernie rallies since June 2015 and are planning to head down to the South Carolina primary after New Hampshire. Buckley said his main goal of the bus is to “pass on Bernie’s positive statement and get this conversation going.”
Bernie Sanders took 60.4% of the vote in the 2016 New Hampshire Primary, shutting Clinton out with her 38% and forcing Martin O’Malley out of the race. After trailing behind Clinton in the polls since the start of his campaign, New Hampshire proved as a huge win for Bernie and his constituency.
On Bernie’s opponent Buckley said, “I do not trust Hillary Clinton, she voted for the Iraqi war which is solely profit from the military industrial complex, hundreds of thousands of people killed and millions displaced.” Buckley looks to Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump will “pull it together” and make our country back to the way our founding father’s wanted it.
Fortunately for those who aren’t able to experience these passionate supporters in person, the most exciting moments from primaries and rallies are available to anyone and everyone through social media. Social media outlets like Twitter and Instagram have taken the first hand in capturing campaigners along the 2016 election campaign trail and sharing them with the world. Online magazines and newspapers have also shown interest in the supporters by posting galleries through their social media accounts of the most creative.
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Trump and Sanders supporters rack up the most social media presence from rallies and marches. Though the candidates are on opposite sides of the political spectrum, their fans both take supporting to the next level whether it’s through dressing up as the candidate, covering themselves in pins and badges, or crafting intricate posters and figures.
Sanders supporters at a march in New York City in January were by far the most creative and artistic with their campaigning for Sanders. Over 3,000 people attended the event and marched from Union Square to Zuccotti Park in support of Sanders. Fans paid homage to the candidate through handcrafted papier-mâché figurines, puppets, and signs. Jackson Krule of VICE followed the campaigners along the march and posted Instagram photos of the most colorful in the crowd.
As the Presidential Election grows closer and both parties select their nominees, the passion of supporters is guaranteed to increase in strength and in numbers. The Republican Party will nominate their presidential candidate at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio on July 18, 2016. The Democrats will hold their convention shortly after in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 25, 2016 to choose their candidate for the November election. Bright campaigners from all over the country are sure to continue showing their support in ways that stand out in a crowd of thousands. Whether it’s an eyewitness account or through social media, the most animated supporters will undoubtedly be noticed.
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VICE | THE GUARDIAN | TIME