By Rebekah Devorak | Opinions Editor
Right now, nothing about the upcoming presidential election – or global politics in general – seems particularly sweet. But Ben & Jerry’s is trying to change that, one ice cream cone at a time.
The community-minded ice cream company that’s famous for its inventive flavors debuted a new one at the beginning of the summer: Empower Mint, made with peppermint ice cream and heaps of brownies and fudge swirls.
The sugary treat itself makes for the perfect summer sundae. The peppermint ice cream base is refreshing, but isn’t so minty that it’s reminiscent of toothpaste. It’s cooling and would definitely hit the spot in the heatwave that’s been hanging over the East Coast. The fudge swirls are decadent and luxurious without being heavy, and the brownies offer a nice chewy change of texture. Let’s be honest, the classic combination of mint and chocolate rarely strikes out, yet somehow Ben & Jerry’s was able to make it even more delightful.
But the goal of this treat is more than just tickling the taste buds.
The message behind Empower Mint is that American democracy and the election process needs to become “more ‘by the people’ and less ‘buy the people,’” as stated on Ben & Jerry’s website. The inspiration for this flavor was sparked by the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision to strike down certain parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This decision allowed nine states, the majority of them located in the south, and numerous other counties, including Manhattan, to change voting laws without advanced approval from the federal government.
It is now more difficult for students, young people and people of color to take part in the election process by voting. With Empower Mint, Ben & Jerry’s is hoping to bring attention to this issue and ultimately correct it by restoring the Voting Rights Act through a petition.
November’s Election Day is creeping closer and closer, and it’s more important now than ever for this nation to have all of its voices be heard.
According to a July 7 study by the Pew Research Center, only 43 percent of Democrats and 40 percent of Republicans are satisfied with their choices for presidential candidates. This is the lowest it’s been since 1992, when only 40 percent of Republicans and 33 percent of Democrats were pleased with George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton as candidates.
Furthermore, 41 percent of voters say it will be difficult to choose between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump because they believe neither will make a good president. Only 11 percent say voting will be tough because either would make a decent leader, with that number being the lowest recording in two decades.
If there’s anything to be said about this, it’s that the American people are unhappy with the political happenings in this nation. But the only way to make a substantial change to that dissatisfaction is through voting, and like Ben & Jerry’s, most of the public seems to agree. The same Pew Research Center study shows that while more people are dissatisfied with the election’s current standings, 74 percent believe that “it really matters” who wins this presidential contest. That number is up from just 63 percent in the 2012 and 2008 elections.
Ben & Jerry’s new ice cream flavor is made even more delicious by the fact that a portion of each Empower Mint sale will be donated to the NAACP to ensure “the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights of all persons.”
With so much uncertainty heading into the future elections, Ben & Jerry’s is right: “We all deserve an equal serving of democracy.” And what better (or more American) way to accomplish that than through ice cream?