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Bernie Sanders Gains Large Support from Millennials & Teens

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Bernie Sanders is possibly the most liberal Democrat to appear on voters’ ballots, much to the pleasure of younger voters in America.

Sanders’ extremely liberal views on health care, women’s rights, and marijuana legalization are appealing to youth, even those who may not regularly follow politics, making him a standout among his presidential candidates.

A McClatchy-Marist poll of Democratic voters found 58 percent of voters between the ages of 18 and 29 preferred Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton. In contrast, Clinton held a stronger advantage over Sanders among voters between the ages of 45 and 59 with 64 percent showing support compared with 26 percent favoring Sanders. The preferences of 30 to 44 year olds is relatively equal between both.

Since it’s only February and the actual presidential election isn’t until November, some teens may not be knowledgeable about the election season. Some probably feel they don’t have a say since they can’t vote yet.

However, among youth that are following the election season, it’s clear Sanders is coming out on top.

If you log onto Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you may see support for Sanders from teenagers and millennials, especially among young women and people of color. #Feelthebern has captured the spirit of many Americans that either feel slighted by politics, or are falling in love with his idealist messages about racial equality, erasing student debt, and LGBT equality.

“They want legalization of marijuana. They want marriage equality, if not for themselves, then for their friends or family members,” Bailey Fairbanks, political science instructor and research assistant at Georgia State University, told VOX Teen Communications in an e-mail. “They want free college tuition and/or relief of their student debt. Politicians hedging their bets or presenting weak policy positions on these issues have done nothing to draw these millennials in.”

Sanders attends a rally against Trans-Pacific Partnership. Photo courtesy of U.S. Senate.
Sanders attends a rally against Trans-Pacific Partnership. Photo courtesy of sanders.senate.gov.

Jocelyn Roberts, a junior at Duluth High School, said she shares many of Sander’s beliefs.

“He’s really the only other person I’ve heard of besides Donald Trump, and he seems like he genuinely cares a lot about people,” Roberts said. “Donald Trump’s ideas seem more hateful toward people, but Bernie’s ideas are good. I know a lot of politicians say things just to get votes, but Bernie seems truly passionate about what he believes in.”

Michelle Greene, also a junior at Duluth High School, hasn’t followed the election season as closely, but knows who she won’t be voting for.

“I haven’t really been paying attention to the elections right now, but I definitely wouldn’t vote for Trump,” Greene said. “I wouldn’t vote for Hillary either. Right now I would say Bernie Sanders, because his ideas seem more liberal, and better than Trump’s.”

So why are the youth so attracted to Bernie Sanders? The answer may lie in “populism” and “liberalism.” Populism is the belief in the power of the people and their right to control their government; liberalism is a philosophy founded on the ideas of freedom and equality.

In my opinion, the Bernie Sanders appeal to millennials is his idealism,” said Fairbanks. “He presents policy approaches to problems that they feel have an effect on their lives and the things they care about. Until now most politicians have ignored the needs or policies that millennials and teenagers feel affect them.”

Sanders at a minimum wage rally. Photo courtesy of sanders.senate.gov.
Sanders at a minimum wage rally. Photo courtesy of sanders.senate.gov.

For some, Sanders’ vision speaks to the hearts of many young people and the struggles of millennials in America. They believe in his dreams of finally putting the world back into the hands of ordinary, hard-working people and stopping income inequality.

Though President Obama believed in many of the same things as Sanders, and already tried to do many of these things to the best of his ability, he failed to make the impact some wanted to see and was criticized for it.

But is Sanders’ vision too impractical to the rest of voters? Is it possible for him to actually implant the changes that he and young voters want? Can he not only appeal to younger voters, but also appeal to the older, more conservative generation who may think some of his ideas are too liberal? Does he have a chance of winning the election?

Only the next eight months holds the answer to these questions.

“As a voter in this block (I’m 25 years old) I tend to question [Sanders’] practicality and ability to execute,” Fairbanks said. “If elected, he is going to face opposition from both sides of the aisle, not to mention having to overcome a huge gap in his handling of foreign policy. In my opinion, his weakness in these areas is his kryptonite against such a powerhouse as Hillary Clinton.”

The Georgia primaries will be held on Tuesday, March 1st, also known as “Super Tuesday,” Georgia and 14 other states hold primary elections for presidential candidates. Primaries provide candidates the opportunity to become the sole presidential nominee for their party as determined by their respective party.

For more information on how to vote, how to register and other important dates, visit The Georgia Secretary of State’s website.

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