Ben and Jerry Endorse Fellow Vermonter Bernie Sanders for President
Two of Vermont’s most famous native sons are pledging their support for Bernie Sanders’ presidential run.
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the men behind Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, have endorsed the independent, socialist U.S. senator as he challenges former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination in 2016.
Cohen and Greenfield—whose company was sold to British-Dutch multinational corporation Unilever for $326 million in 2000—each made symbolic, $500 contributions to Sanders’ campaign, protesting the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 “Citizens United” decision, which allowed for nearly unrestricted corporate giving to political campaigns. Sure, they can give more; they just won’t.
“Here in the US what they always teach us in public school is that the definition of free speech is that anybody can stand up on a soap box and say whatever they want,” Cohen told the Telegraph. “Essentially what Citizens United has said is that a person who has a lot of money can stand up on a soap box, buy the biggest sound system in the world and drown out the voice of everybody else. For a business it is the best investment you can make. The return on investment is thousands of per cent. Politicians sell out pretty cheap.”
The ice cream magnates have supported Sanders since he successfully ran for mayor of Burlington in 1981—and won by 10 votes.
“I think he is reinvigorating all those young people that have been totally turned off by the political system, because the candidates have all been groomed and blow-dried and schooled in the language of political speak which is essentially obfuscation and happy talk,” Cohen said. “Here is finally a candidate who is authentic and talking in plain English.”
Cohen and Greenfield also supported President Barack Obama during his 2008 campaign. Unilever, meanwhile, has not endorsed any candidate.
In May, Cohen told Business Insider what would be in a hypothetical, Sanders-themed ice cream flavor.
“What would be in it? All good things,” Cohen said of “Bernie’s Rebellion.” “I mean, there might be some chocolate chips molded in the shape of a cap that you wear for graduation to symbolize his stance in favor of free college education and reduced student loan rates. I think that there might be equal numbers of peanuts and pecans to symbolize his initiatives to reduce economic inequality.”
When asked, Cohen said he would not be inspired enough to craft a flavor for Clinton.