Saturday, November 21, 2015

Why are so Many Young People Feelin' the Bern?

So, I thought I would just write about a few of the reasons why young voters are so enamored with Bernie Sanders. After all, according to a PEW study, almost 50% of folks aged 18-49 view "socialism" favorably. In comparison, by the same study, only 13% of 65+ year olds view "socialism" favorably. Now, understand that viewing the word "socialism" favorably is not the same as supporting Bernie Sanders, but it is no secret that Sanders is becoming rather popular in the younger tier of voters. By the way, this is by no means a definite, concrete news story, nor is it a comprehensive analysis of the ideology and platform of Bernie Sanders. This is simply a summary of ideas that I have gathered from other sources.

In a nutshell, after reading several articles, I came to the following conclusion:
   The reason why more young voters support Bernie Sanders is because they are young, and the reason why his support drops as voter age increases is because, well, they are older.

Now, understandably, that may not make a whole lot of sense, so let's take a closer look:
1-Economics- Many of the "older" generation have been able to get an education, get a job, and have a relatively successful economic life with no major setbacks. That is not the same for many in the younger generation. Why? 2008. In 2008, one of the worst economic disasters in the history of the country. Imagine graduating college during this time. What would you do? It was much more difficult for young people in the job market. You have just racked up a significant sum of college debt, and now your job prospects are slim. And for young workers who only had a few years of experience under their belts, you still need to pay off your college loans. Taking in to account the lingering effects of the recession, NPR claims that younger people are not as well of as their parents were when they were young. The parents, like I mentioned earlier, didn't suffer anything like 2008 when they were young. Their job security was better when they were young. The older generation has more faith in the economic system, whereas the younger voters have less faith in the economic system. Enter Bernie Sanders, who promises to make college more affordable and take on corporate america. Older voters have little reason to want such drastic change, but the young voters may be attracted by concepts such as less student debt and perhaps even the proposed rise in minimum wage. Essentially, Sanders offers hopes of a better economic future that young voters seem to be drawn to.
2-"Socialism"- The second reason actually does have something to do with the fact that Bernie Sanders classifies himself openly as a democratic socialist. Older generation may think of the former Soviet Union when they think of socialist. On the other hand, younger people may not default to that association of socialism with Soviet communism and the poor welfare of its citizens. They may associate socialism with some European countries like Sweden or Norway which have substantial amounts of healthcare and college tuition subsidized by the government. To younger voters, this sounds appealing. To older generations who may not be able to get over their "experience" with socialism (combined with less need for things like cheaper college tuition), Bernie Sanders has less to offer.

For all of you out there who are feeling the Bern, why? What makes Bernie Sanders so special? I know for a fact that I did not come close to summarizing all of the reasons why Sanders is appealing, so let's hear it!



Daniel Jun said...

I actually remember watching the Democratic Primary Debate. And Sanders has a lot of things going for him. First, he's charismatic and a good public speaker. Second, he speaks of radical change, which causes young people to fall in line behind him. Third, he's literally saying what young people want to hear. I, personally, think his strategy is ineffective at the best because young people don't vote (for which I blame the jury-selection process) and the fact that the popular vote doesn't even matter. But that's just a part of his charm! Young people who know anything about Sanders' strategy and the American government system realize Sanders strategy is inefficient, but that helps to lend Sanders a sense of legitimacy and sincerity. And for the rest of us who didn't dissect Sanders' entire candidate strategy, he's saying all the right things.

Although, it's very important to note how incredibly smart he is about properly attracting young folk. He doesn't try and exude a "look at me! I'm young and hip like you guys! I-pods and Twitter and Instagram!" aura. Instead, he acts like an older man who really does want what's best for college students. And since other old people don't care about college in comparison to their 401K, it's pretty obvious why older people aren't elated with Sanders' campaign theme.

Oh, and socialism itself isn't bad. It's humans who think socialism is a good idea that turn socialism into a corrupted, autocratic system of injustice.

Jeffrey Song said...

I agree completely with Daniel. Bernie Sander's ability to amass the support of the younger voters relies on his platform of radical change and reform; in general, younger people are more inclined and open to change than the older generation. Combine all of the benefits he's claiming his change will bring with a strong public speaking ability and you have a grass-roots candidate supported by the younger generation that admittedly doesn't have a strong chance at winning the presidency but is able to make a significant splash within the Democratic party and force the other candidates to lean more extreme on their platform than they otherwise would've wanted to. Also, like Daniel said, Sanders' ability to speak out his opinions and attitudes without restraint brings a sense of genuineness to his personality and makes him seem much more candid and down to earth. These qualities obviously attract voters of all demographics but especially so for younger votes who are more inclined to be distrustful of the older generation of politicians that they view as being the primary cause of the issues plaguing the U.S today.

Anonymous said...

I believe a big reason Sanders is so popular is because of his views on socialism. Considering that the American Government is corrupt(and I say this as a supported opinion) and that a majority of the population wishes for fairness, Bernie's approach to solving this problem seems most appealing. Being that his solution to the corrupt aspects of our society is through seeing everyone as a whole in order to implement fairness, which would draw the public's attention. Sanders's audience is more accepting of change and unhappy with the current political establishment giving him a political upper-hand. In addition, the fact that Sander's desires to add improvements to social priorities like education and health care furthermore appeals to public opinion.