By: Keegan Struble
With Bernie Sanders closing in on Hillary Clinton in delegates, Clinton currently leading by a small margin, there is no question that most of Sanders’ support is coming from millennials and young voters, especially in the age range of 18 to mid-twenties. Sanders, age 74, would be the oldest president in office if elected, by then 75. So what exactly makes him resonate with the young? It’s not only his ideas but the presence he receives online.
It may seem like a pretty crazy theory at first, but memes of or relating to Bernie Sanders produced by his supporters and volunteers are doing an incredible job of promoting his candidacy. No, one does not simply support Sanders because of his memes though, but they do get users of social media, online forums, and websites interested. I had heard his name before and the fact that he was running for president, but the first time I discovered his ideas for our country was through a series of memes on Facebook pertaining to his thoughts on affordable college, healthcare, and raising the minimum wage. These eventually got me interested enough to do further research on the presidential candidate. Another advantage for Sanders online is the access to more independent sources of news and media. Mainstream media tends to have little focus on Sanders and if it does, he is normally portrayed in a lesser light or losing the battle against Hillary Clinton by large margins. While many independent sources are more willing to give Sanders the credit he deserves. Considering that the internet tends to be one of the main and most prevalent platforms of media for the millennial generation, we not only are more likely to see memes or posts relating to Sanders, but also more likely to consume these more independent news sources rather than watching mainstream media on television. This online presence is spreading and promoting Bernie Sanders’ ideas which seem to interest millennials the most.
Bernie Sanders’ proposals for our nation simply click with many young voters. As a DSU student, Scarlet Heberlig says “seems to truly understand our age group and how much of a rut we will be in in the future if we don’t change things in the now.” She doesn’t just believe that he’s looking out for our generation, but the next as well. He’s “ensur[ing] that our children won’t be forced into a ruined economy.” Millennials grew up in a time where we were promised in school, by family, and by the media that if we worked hard and went to college, that we’d live a successful life. Yet as we moved into the 2000s this idea was and still is growing harder and harder to achieve. The prices of tuition, housing, and healthcare are growing while wages stay low. This makes it harder for us to pay for college to get that successful life we were promised, and even though we do work hard, whether along with attending college or not, it seems to be getting us nowhere. Having experienced this decline first hand, we realize that something is wrong with our system, and we want it to change. While many older generations have experienced the past success of our government, millennials were born during or right before its decline. So we have never truly experienced its success. We not only worry for ourselves but the future of the entire country. Scarlet Heberlig says, Bernie Sanders is “giving our country a wakeup call” to work together to create “a better future for our descendants.” Bernie seems to be the one who can lead us in the right direction. One more thing Scarlet mentions is her appreciation of the way he communicates these ideas which she describes as both “proactive and positive.”
Of course, for many young voters, their support for Bernie is much simpler. Although Sanders’ ideas can seem fairly extreme to some, compared to his competitors as DSU student, Parker Seaman puts it, “he is the least radical of all the candidates” even though he doesn’t “agree with all of his policies.” When compared to Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Ted Cruz, this is very true. Although Sanders has strong ideas for our country, he is reasonable and willing to compromise, along with being the most honest and sincere candidate in the race. Many young voters and millennials simply want our nation and its politics to be more stable. To them, although Sanders may only be “the one I hate the least,” he is the most sensible choice for the outcome they want.
Even if Bernie Sanders does not win the Democratic candidacy or the presidential election, he and many of his supporters are paving the way towards a revolution in American politics. This is leading to the support of more radical leftist ideas, the want for more grassroots style campaigning instead of the corporate and party controlled organization our political system is becoming, and the acceptance of a more socialistic democracy.