Tearful Iowa Supporter Tells Bernie Sanders What It’s Like to Live Off Social Security

Bernie Sanders, Carrie Aldrich
Hugs just like your grandpa. Photo: Jae C. Hong/AP/Corbis

Bernie Sanders is getting personal. At a town-hall meeting in Iowa Falls, Iowa, Monday morning, Sanders emphasized that he wants to expand Social Security by asking for volunteers from the audience. “What is it like to live on $10,000 or $12,000 a year of Social Security?” he asked the crowd as his aides offered a second mic to the crowd. “Other thoughts?”

Carrie Aldrich, the woman who took the mic, was crying so hard she could barely eke out her story. “It’s so hard to do anything to pay your bills,” she said. “You’re ashamed all the time … When you can’t buy presents for your children, it’s really really, really hard. And I worked three, four, five jobs sometimes, always minimum wage. I have a degree, divorced, and it’s just — I’m waiting for disability to come through, so my parents have to support me — it’s just hard.”

Bernie remained silent until she finished. Then he said, “It is not easy for people to stand up and say that, but the truth is that until millions of people who are experiencing what you’re experiencing do say that we don’t make change.” He called out Republicans who want to cut Social Security, and pointed out that the program made no adjustments for cost of living last year. Sanders’s raw emotional appeal (or, rather, the raw emotional appeal he elicits from someone else) is designed to springboard the steamroller-style reform he champions. And although his ideas aren’t necessarily viable, his appeal might be working.

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