Millenials more liberal than ever before, supporting Sanders
Opinions Column: Sonam Says
Let’s get this out in the open. Politicians and interest groups have destroyed America’s democratic principles. With noisy, crass and predictable campaigns that focus more on ripping into one’s opponents rather than improving the lives of everyday Americans, today’s candidates have no grasp on what it means to run for public office. The vast majority of representatives care more about the wealthy people funding their campaigns and their personal agendas than they do about the people whose votes they so ardently court in the weeks before elections.
And yet, into the arena walks Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Initially seen as the David to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Goliath, Sanders has taken America by storm with his urgent call for a “political revolution.” With a platform that hinges on eliminating income inequality, federalizing healthcare, reforming the criminal justice system and ending discrimination, Bernie Sanders has tapped into a large, restless and neglected portion of the American public.
While many are continuously struck by Sanders’s surge among voters, it should come as no surprise. We live in a nation that’s more politically and ideologically divided today than ever before. More Americans are dissatisfied with the government than are satisfied with it. People are angry and yearning for change. The candidates sense this, and each one of them is therefore vying to show the voters that their change will be for the best.
While the republicans are engaging in their usual tactics — blaming any and all problems on the president, liberals and the media — Clinton and Sanders are also battling it out to prove they are the best choice for America. While these candidates disagree on a whole slew of issues, there is one thing they can all agree on: locking down the millennial vote is crucial. The group makes up a larger portion of the voting bloc than ever before. Each candidate is therefore doing his or her best to appeal to millennial principles and ideologies. Yet no matter what any of them do, none have gotten as far as Sanders, and here’s why: He is the only candidate who listens to the people and treats us with the respect we deserve.
It’s no secret that the younger generation is more liberal than those preceding it. And among millennials who do support the conservative Republican party, more than 60 percent favor same-sex marriage — a position that every conservative presidential candidate is staunchly against. A large percentage of young republicans are also pro-choice and support the legalization of marijuana. While they believe in small government and less fiscal regulation of the free market, their social values are certainly more liberal than those of older republicans. Yet despite knowing this, Republican presidential candidates entirely disregard the views of a large portion of the electorate in favor of platforms that are significantly more conservative than the constituents they claim to represent. It’s clear millennials are not a priority for them. Indeed, Alexander Staudt, a 21-year-old Republican student from the University of Iowa put it best when he said, “National party leaders have been relatively non-existent in response to our generation.”
Conversely, the Democratic Party’s socially liberal platform appeals to significantly more millennials than the Republican Party’s. And when it comes down to Clinton and Sanders, Sanders outstrips Clinton with the millennial vote by a margin of 2 to 1. Despite Clinton being seen as a shoe-in for the Democratic nomination, Sanders is putting up quite a fight, and his momentum is propelled largely by the youth that his message has galvanized. Hillary Clinton has done any and everything to appeal to different groups, whether it involved making Beyonce and Star Wars references, comparing herself to “your Abuela,” or doing the Nae-Nae on stage. Despite all this, she’s unable to shake Sanders’s millennial support. By pandering to us through shallow gimmicks, she assumes, like so many others older than us, that our generation is interested primarily in pop culture and social media. Instead of engaging us on the issues we care about, she writes us off as a group of kids that only seeks entertainment.
On the other hand, Sanders has kept his focus razor sharp on the issues at play this election season. By addressing things like college debt, the wage gap, income inequality, money in politics, discrimination and criminal justice reform, he’s touched base on all major issues of consequence to millennials. He consistently speaks to young focus groups and progressive organizations headed by young people because he cares to hear what his supporters think. In an arena where candidates are constantly battling to speak the most, it seems Sanders is doing the one thing voters want most desperately: he’s listening.
Sonam Sheth is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in economics and statistics. Her column, "Sonam Says," runs on alternate Wednesdays.
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