Millennials’ vote could go to Bernie Sanders

BernieSanders

2016 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, protests for higher minimum wage at Liberty University in Virginia, Photo courtesy of CNN

Cassie Rhame

Staff Writer

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, is being talked about in college classrooms around the country, and the discussion does not seem to be subsiding.

Sanders looks like the epitome of what young hipsters seem to hate the most – old white men. So why does he seem to be grabbing the millennial generation’s attention? The answer is simple – he is the true progressive young people want.

From what surveys have found, Millennials are sick of the U.S.’s two-party system. While many other candidates are trying to hop on the bandwagon of advertising more independent reform policies to impress millennials, Sanders has long been separated from the pack.

A survey from the Pew Research Center found that 51 percent of millennial voters claim to be Independent, and with the generation’s more open approach to socialism, Sanders makes for the ideal candidate.

UWF junior environmental science major Ridley Lancaster said, “With his ideas on college education, he just wants to invest in the future of students, which creates more qualified people for different careers.”

Lancaster said he believes Sanders is humble and caters to millennials because he is for the common man and is relatable for young people.

Even though Sanders appears to have high value among the younger generation, not everyone agrees that he will survive come election time.

“He is too shy for debaters,” said Jaden Heron, UWF sophomore and marine biology major. “If he was bolder with more of a ‘Here I am’ attitude, he would be great.”

Sanders is noted for his advocacy for civil rights issues, social inequality, universal healthcare, student debt reform, and freedom from Washington. These policies are among the highest in concern for millennials, and with student debt being at its highest rate in history for 2015 college graduates, it is clear what attracts young people to Sanders.

Back in 1963, Sanders marched with Martin Luther King Jr. before his “I have a dream…” speech, and was also arrested during a sit-in. It is plausible that this longtime support for civil rights is attracting young voters. Students say they believe it is apparent that Sanders is authentic in his current efforts because of the consistency he has shown on the matter.

“He remained so calm during his speech that was interrupted by Black Lives Matter advocates, and that is wholesome,” said UWF junior and hospitality major Katharis Gadson.

“Bernie talks about stuff that matters, like racial issues, which many try to pretend don’t exist, and college tuition,” said Gadson. “We shouldn’t have to pay so much money for college, and Bernie fights for that.” Gadson said he feels students and millennials respect Sanders for his outlook on more affordable education.

There will always be exceptions to the majority, and UWF senior and global marketing major Jeremiah Luger is not fully convinced that Bernie Sanders is reaching out to all millennials. “I am just not a supporter of full on socialism, and I feel that is what Bernie stands for,” said Luger. “Socialism is not going to fix our economy.”

What is fascinating is that Sanders is not only popular among millennials that classify as Democrat or Independent, but even some Republicans show support.

“As a Republican, I love Bernie Sanders,” said former UWF student and film major Hayley Bennett. “He seems sincere in everything that he says, and I think young people respect that. His push for cheaper college education is a big deal for me.”

Esther Richard, who works in the reference department in the library, said, “I don’t know much about the guy, but I am definitely all about making college more affordable.” Richard is not a part of the millennial generation, but it is interesting to see that the support for his policies is not limited by age.

An article in Huffington Post indicates that Sanders has gone up in the polls by 10 points since July, and has gone from 4.9 percent in ratings to 23.4 percent in a matter of months. An Economist/YouGov poll in July found that 44 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds plan to vote for Sanders, as opposed to 45 percent who would choose Hillary Clinton.

“Bernie might be an old white man, but he fights for what we care about as college students,” said Bennett. “I think he has a real chance next year.”

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