The duo’s outreach reflects a campaign built on small contributions.
Bernie Sanders. Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the creators of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, have never shied away from progressive activist politics, getting behind issues like marriage equality and climate justice, and even supporting Occupy Wall Street back in 2011. The Burlington, Vermont-based ice cream makers have known Bernie Sanders, their state’s iconoclastic senator and progressive presidential candidate, for decades, so it was really only a matter of time before Cohen and Greenfield began stumping for Sanders.
As The Hillreports, Cohen and Greenfield sent an email to supporters on December 29, urging them to volunteer and donate $3 to the Sanders campaign before the December 31 fundraising deadline. Cohen and Greenfield opened their message with a simple introduction and an apparent stab at the contention, proffered by political figures like Mitt Romney and the U.S. Supreme Court, that “corporations are people.”
“Hi, Ben here ... and Jerry—the people not the corporation,” the two write. “We’ve known Bernie Sanders for 30 years. And for over 30 years, Bernie’s been fighting for workers’ rights, veterans, students, and senior citizens … As we travel the country campaigning for Bernie, we hear a lot of people saying, ‘I love Bernie, but I am not sure he can win.’ But poll after poll shows Bernie is the most electable Democrat.”
Greenfield and Cohen. Image by Dismas via Wikimedia Commons
Cohen and Greenfield’s call for $3 individual contributions is in keeping with the modus operandi of Sanders’ presidential campaign:
Sanders currently stands fourth in fundraising totals at $41,463,784, with 96 percent of his funds coming from individual contributions and 0 percent from political action committees (PACs), according to Open Secrets data. Small individual contributors, those who donate $200 or less, have given $30,652,976 (74 percent) to Sanders’ campaign, while large individual contributors—those who spend more than $200—have contributed $9,300,567 (22 percent).
These fundraising statistics resemble Barack Obama’s fundraising efforts during his 2008 presidential campaign, which was powered by small donors. And it’s in direct opposition to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, which has raked in $62,785,473 (81 percent) in large contributions to date.
In their message, Cohen and Greenfield also noted that they have contributed to Sanders’ campaign and have given away ice cream at campaign events. They emphasized how small individual donations are powering Sanders’ presidential run.
“Every time Bernie ran for office in Vermont, people would say he didn’t have a chance,” Greenfield writes. “And together, I know we’re going to shock the political elite when we win in Iowa next month.”