The founders of Ben & Jerry’s visited Smith College Wednesday to advocate for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield founded their iconic ice cream company in 1978. They have since used their success to advocate for progressive policy reforms including the more recent push to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. They have also come out in support for Sanders, who they’ve known for nearly three decades.
“He’s motivated by deeply held values,” Cohen told student, according to The Massachusetts Daily Collegian. “For 30 years, he’s been fighting for the same things: people who aren’t represented by the U.S. government.”
Smith College is a private women’s institution located in Massachusetts. Cohen and Greenfield have traveled across the country throughout the election to advocate for Sanders. They even launched their own Sanders-inspired ice cream flavor. The company is known for selling ice cream flavors inspired by people such as Cherry Garcia named for the late lead singer of the Grateful Dead.
“Usually, [voting means] picking the lesser of the two evils,” Greenfield said. “This is historic because [Sanders is] a candidate who is worth voting for.”
Sanders has made income inequality a central focus on his campaign. He has advocated for increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour, among other ideas, as a way to help address the problem. His platform has also included making more services public, like college, so they can be offered to people for free.
“He is the only person who’s willing to talk about how the political system and the economic system are rigged,” Cohen said. “From the pharmaceutical industry (or) from the oil and gas industry.”
Clinton, in contrast, has argued the federal minimum wage should not exceed $12 an hour. She does support states deciding for themselves whether to go higher and even praised New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his statewide $15 minimum wage push. At the moment, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, meaning $15 would nearly double it.
Economic experts on both sides of the aisle criticize Sanders for his policy proposals. Several former economic advisers to President Barack Obama wrote an open letter last week to Sanders out of concern his plan will cause economic harm. Higher minimum wages could hurt businesses and free services require higher taxes.
Quinnipiac University found in a recent poll Clinton leads Sanders by only two percentage points.
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