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What's Next For The Maltese Student Who Helped Bernie Sanders' Campaign?

Shaking things up in the U.S. from his room in Marsaxlokk

Brendan Zerafa worked tirelessly on the international outreach of Bernie Sanders' primaries campaign. But since Bernie's loss, Brendan has kept up his activism, jumping from campaign adviser to the U.S.A.'s first transgender major-party Senate nominee, to a volunteer with Maltese-ish mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg.

His story starts with Bernie Sanders's campaign, the political phenomenon that took the U.S. by storm with their revolution against the billionaire class killing the American dream. 

When Sanders' social media team launched a call for volunteers, Brendan (who was already active on the local, political scene) applied with only a tiny footnote informing them he was based in Malta.

"Bernie's views aligned with mine on pretty much everything, so I applied for the post." In the end, distance didn't matter as Brendan was called up to fill in the post.


"Bernie's views aligned with mine on pretty much everything, so I applied for the post."

During his interview for the role, Brendan spoke about his plans and ideas for the Sanders campaign, and one particular point stuck. He suggested the innovative idea of starting a huge international campaign to back Bernie from the outside, in. 

"My interviewer loved the concept, so together we started the grassroots group called 'ImagineBernie'. Through this initiative we geo-targeted as many young voters as we possibly could, using platforms like Facebook and even Tinder."

Imagine Team

As the U.S. primaries got more heated, the page's posts got thousands upon thousands of shares; their memes helping Bernie's message reach all corners of the globe. "It's an overwhelmingly incredible feeling to see a movement you helped set up headlining American TV on CBS and NBC affiliates across California and Vermont." He recalls, when asked about his proudest moments on the campaign.

"Also, it's pretty rewarding to see your work featured on the Business Insider."

"He found himself becoming a campaign adviser to Misty K. Snow, the U.S. Senate's first transgender major-party nominee."


But once Bernie's campaign was over, Brendan kept going. He found himself becoming a campaign adviser to Misty K. Snow, the U.S. Senate's first transgender major-party nominee.

Snow won the Democratic Party primary for the U.S. Senate (Utah) in June, around the same time that the presidential primary was coming to a close. As it became ever-clearer that Hillary Clinton would be the nominee, lots of Bernie's man-power transferred to other campaigns or politicians with similar goals to Sanders. These people were often referred to as Berniecrats.

"I approached the Snow campaign, and I informed them that I'd like to help them out. Originally I started out doing some basic design work, but eventually I became a campaign adviser. I designed most of Misty's promotional material on social media - and it turns out that this kind of 'guerilla marketing' really helps out, particularly with helping to get donations."

"It's an overwhelmingly incredible feeling to see a movement you helped set up headlining American TV"


Despite Misty's eventual loss against incumbent U.S. Senator Mike Lee (a conservative Law professor in an even more conservative state) Brendan is proud to have been a part of Misty's campaign. They fought to see her message to of hope for the working class and minority communities reach as many people as it could, and the whole team never backed down from a daunting challenge. 

But now, it's a new year, and 2017 sees Brendan working on another U.S. campaign. This time he's working with Pete Buttigieg, the quasi-Maltese mayor, running for DNC chair.

He's working with Pete's team because he believes that if the Democrats had won the Midwest, there would currently be a Democrat in the White House. "Pete has proved himself to be a Midwest success story, as well as a grassroots favourite, so I think he's the man for the job."


"2017 sees [Brendan] working for Pete Buttigieg, the quasi-Maltese mayor, and openly gay man, running for DNC chair"

Brendan is currently in his fourth year of law, and not, as some might expect, international relations. In the short space of one year he's carved out quite the reputation for himself. And, once Pete's campaign is over, we can expect to see a lot more of Brendan's work in the near future. 

As of last December he's been approached to work with two more campaigns (one for a potential mayor in 2017 and another for a person running for Congress in 2018). But what exactly is it about U.S. politics that pushed him to work so much?

"I'm a bit of a political geek. Naturally, American politics stands out because one could argue that whatever happens in America influences the rest of the world. Truth be told though, I didn't dream of involving myself in American politics until Bernie Sanders decided to run."


"American politics is interesting to me because their 'left' is fighting for a lot of issues the Maltese take for granted."

If you're wondering whether Brendan plans to hone his skills on Maltese politicians, you may have a little longer to wait. "I think the only way in which I might suddenly jump in is if I see that my ideas (which are mostly progressive left) aren't being represented enough." 

So that's a maybe, right?

"That being said, being an activist on issues that matter also makes you a politician to some extent." And having worked with JEF Malta, JEF Europe and FŻL, Brendan is no stranger to local activism.

The current tumultuous nature of the globe's political scene means the future is bright for our young political wizard, who's all set to continue making waves across the world.

Do you know about another Maltese person making working on a big international campaign? Tell us about them on Facebook, or send us an email on hello@lovinmalta.com

READ NEXT: Could The Next US Democrat Leader Be A Gay Maltese Man?

Written By

Chucky Bartolo

If there's no Mariah Carey GIF or reference to Eurovision in this article, just assume they've been edited out against my will.