Former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’s withdrawal from the 2016 election leaves behind a legion of disappointed young voters.
According to the Center of Information and Research on Civic Learning Engagement, the Vermont senator crushed both Clinton and Trump in youth votes, getting 56 percent to Clinton’s 21 percent and Trump’s 23 percent.
Despite being the oldest candidate at 74 and a self-professed Democratic-Socialist, Sanders was able to connect with young adults. His genuine belief toward what he said has attracted more young Democrats compared to the other candidates. Meanwhile, Clinton’s history of stance changes has long debunked her credibility among the Democratic youth.
“Hillary Clinton is a liar,” junior Kaylanie Saldua said. “She didn’t go for supporting what she is for now, for example, gay marriage. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders was always there for the people. He was a civil rights activist, he understands the middle class, and unlike Clinton and Trump, he’s not a millionaire.”
“Bernie Sanders stood out from other political candidates because he has stuck with his views since the seventies and it is very rare to see a politician to be so passionate about their views for as long as a time he’s been,” senior Liz Malone said.
Sanders’ early political activism stretches back decades. In January 1962, he led a rally at the University of Chicago to protest racial segregation in campus housing. The same year, he staged the first civil rights sit-in in Chicago.
At a time when political activism has reached such high popularity among young adults, Sanders proved to be a role model to these young activists.
Furthermore, college debt is a daunting thought for most college-bound students. According to a recent study from The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS), college graduates who graduated in 2014 incurred an average of $29,000 in debt.
“His goal to make college tuition-free is also something I really appreciate because I’m a person who believes that everyone should have the choice to be educated, no matter if they can afford it or not,” Malone said.
Sanders is known for being a proud Democratic Socialist. To older Americans, the term “socialist” still carries with it a horrifying past.
Unlike the older generations, millennials didn’t grow up during the Cold War in which the national enemy was a socialist totalitarian regime like the Soviet Union.
Millennials tend to reject the actual definition of socialism which is the government ownership of production. In a poll by New Reason Rupe, only 32 percent of millennials favor government managed economy while 64 percent prefer a free market economy.
Nonetheless, this begs the question of why the majority of millennials favor socialism when the majority reject its fundamental tenet of government ownership. In another poll by New Reason Rupe, a majority of millennials favor government guarantee of college education, health insurance, and a home. Maybe it’s just an aftereffect of the Great Recession and doubt in the capitalist market, but in the end many millennials are comfortable with having their needs provided for.
Sanders may not have won the primary presidential election, but he did win the hearts of the younger generation.