The Set Up, The Power, and The People

Communication Strategist Symone Sanders Presents Virtual Endowed Lecture at Bridgewater College

Symone Sanders

Photo by Bridgewater College

Symone Sanders is a senior advisor for the 2020 Biden Campaign and discussed politics, power and strategies to create change through the discussion of crises, the pandemic, and racial injustice.

Alexis Brown, Staff Writer

Bridgewater, Va. – On Oct. 12, Senior Advisor for Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign Symone Sanders presented a virtual speech to Bridgewater College. 

Sanders is a strategist and communications consultant. She has experience as a former CNN political commentator and as the National Press Secretary for the Bernie Sanders 2016 campaign. 

She is now senior advisor for Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign and the principal for 360 Group, LLC —  where she offers strategic communication strategies to organizations, campaigns and candidates. 

Sanders challenges what people think they know, which is defined by what we have in common and instead highlights the differences that contribute to social movements and creating change. 

“We have to fundamentally understand the makeup of the system,” said Sanders. “We can’t talk about changing the system, we can’t talk about influencing the system if we don’t understand that there are factions and an apparatus working to create change.”

Sanders discussed the fundamental makeup of political parties, as well as the idea of power and why she wanted to work in politics.

“I realized that politics at the end of the day was about power,” said Sanders. “And I wanted to work in politics because I wanted to be a powerful person. Why? Because the people with the power are the folks that have the opportunity to truly create change.”

Sanders discussed how people can create social change in politics and the power that parties hold by infiltrating the apparatus. Sanders used Bernie Sanders as a prime example of making this change.

“Senator Sanders and his supporters helped spark a movement of people who across this country did not feel brought in to the political apparatus,” said Sanders. “They did not feel like the apparatus represented them.” 

Sanders then discussed what is currently happening in America and how consequential the 2020 election is due to the crises we are facing from climate, economic, public health and racial injustice. 

Sanders emphasized the power that young people on campus have because of the decisions they make and the importance of engaging in uncomfortable conversation.

“This is an opportunity for us to do some things that haven’t been done before,” said Sanders, speaking about young people engaging in conversation to carry over and create change. 

Sanders explained that she emphasizes the importance of uncomfortable conversation, but she also says it is okay to disagree in these conversations. However, without them, the people cannot come together to understand how we are all collectively living through these crises. 

“We have to understand fundamentally, that our ability to see ourselves in one another, our ability to build a likely coalition, and have uncomfortable, constructive conversations, and to build alliances with people who may not believe what we believe is an important trait for our democracy,” said Sanders. “It is something if we don’t hold on to, we will lose it.”

The endowed lecture was followed by a Q&A between Sanders and students of Bridgewater College, which was moderated by Senior Instructor and Director of Endowed Lectures Jennifer Babcock.