Sanders wins millennials’ vote

Young adults are not turned off by the term “socialism” as their parents are

Presidential candidate and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders is surging past Hillary Clinton in popularity with millennials. One of few candidates to connect with the younger generation, this could prove to be very valuable to Sanders during the rest of his campaign for the presidency.

Bloomberg reports that last year, millennials surpassed the baby boomers as “the largest share of the U.S.’s voting-age population.”

Among the millennials, 75 percent of Democrats support Sanders versus only 17 percent that support former Secretary of State Clinton, according to Reuters. A CNN entrance poll of the Iowa caucuses reports that “more than 80% of voters aged between 17-29 years old supported Sanders.”

Millennials — Sen. Bernie Sanders continues to receive overwhelming support from millennials. Google Images

Millennials — Sen. Bernie Sanders continues to receive overwhelming support from millennials. Google Images

Breitbart News Network reports that in early December of last year “Hillary Clinton led Bernie Sanders by seven points among Democrat voters under 30,” but this number has visibly shifted since last year, especially in the last few months.

This surge can be largely attributed to the lack of fear of socialism among millennials and an appreciation of Sanders’ persona, according to Investor’s Business Daily.

This change can dramatically affect the outcome of the caucuses in the race to 2016. Breitbart reports that almost a quarter of the people voting in the caucuses in the 2008 election were under 30.

So how does a 74-year-old self-described socialist who did not enter public office until he was almost 40 years old find a place in the hearts and minds of young Americans?

The answer is simple. Millennials do not fully understand what socialism is to begin with. TIME reports that only 16 percent of millennials can correctly define what socialism actually is, according to a national poll. When asked about the economy, 64 percent of millennials reported they favored an economy managed by the free market, with only 32 percent wishing for an economy managed by the government.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines socialism as “a way of organizing a society in which major industries are owned and controlled by the government rather than by individual people and companies.”

So even though millennials essentially support free markets, they are willing to elect a socialist who holds an opposing viewpoint. A greater understanding of what socialism represents is needed in society before Sanders is given control of the country.

“Do they think I’m afraid of the word?” Sanders said in an interview with The Nation. “I’m not afraid of the word. Everybody in the state knows that I am (a socialist).”

While Sanders has been identifying as a Democratic socialist throughout the election, he has also referred to himself simply as a socialist.

So with no more fear of the word “socialism” and a misunderstanding of the word’s actual definition, young Americans can freely appreciate Sanders’ ideas and proposed solutions to problems in the government.

America is no longer a blue-collar society, and with many young people in debt from paying for college and not being able to find work, Sanders can promise free tuition for college and easily strike a chord with a struggling population.

In addition to calling for free higher education, Sanders also wants to start a universal healthcare policy, according to The Washington Times. Sanders is calling for a “political revolution” and says the way to make this possible is increased voter turnout, which he may achieve with his popularity among millennials.

With 62 percent of millennials calling themselves liberal, according to TIME, young voters are willing to forgive, and even appreciate, Sanders’ unkempt hair and ill-fitting suits for a promise of a brighter future.

I am not sure this bright future would ever come to pass if Sanders became president, but this promise is proving to be a force to be reckoned with.

Not even Clinton’s squad of celebrities including Kim Kardashian-West, Demi Lovato and Britney Spears has changed the tide of millennials supporting Sanders. His messy hair and socialist ideals are here to stay for the moment, and our generation is the reason why.

Stefanick is an opinion writer.

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