Bernie Sanders and his appeal to young people

Not long ago, I attempted to explain the appeal of Hillary Clinton to her core group(s) of supporters despite her past record and policies. Hillary Clinton has mastered the art of espousing divisive identity politics and making it appear inclusive, cohesive and unifying. While the personal story of her rise to the top, shattering many glass ceilings in the process makes for compelling reading and inspiration, it’s hardly a good reason to elect her to the highest office in the land if her policies do not serve the best interest of the people.

Many seem surprised or even baffled by the appeal of Bernie Sanders, especially to young people. People thirty or younger of both genders are flocking to Sanders in droves. A grandfatherly looking man, the opposite of what they’d consider as ‘cool’ today, with scraggly white hair, at times grumpy but kind demeanor is what the kids are after today. Compared with the youth who flocked to a suave and smooth Obama, this is an about turn.

The reason is simple. Sanders is that reliable grandfather, dad, uncle or elder who is there for you when our parents couldn’t be. When our families are imploding from the inside out due to divorce or some other family dysfunction, that grandfather or uncle is there to guide you until the storm has blown over. He doesn’t sugar coat his positions and will not make promises he can’t keep just to score political points. Sanders lost significant supporters especially minority supporters when he didn’t support reparations as he feels there is zero chance it can be passed through Congress. That effort is best served at passing legislation which help the 99%. He readily admits that he’s not as experienced in foreign policy matters as Secretary Clinton, but he still has his good judgement and the judgement will make up for lack of experience.

Voters, especially young people, who are more intolerant of bullshit from politicians feel they can trust Sanders. Sanders seeks to unite, not divide. Though a white male, full of privilege as everyone loves to tell him, he advocates for those in less privileged, even a woman’s right to choose. I have watched many Sanders v. Clinton debates and not once do I perceive him to be man-splaining or white-splaining even in the middle of heated disagreements. And as a woman past a certain age, I am very sensitive to those who attempt to man-splain or white-splain. This is a man, after all, who has raised three daughters and I am sure has at one time or another gotten into hot water for attempting to do either of the above. He is an older man with white scraggly hair which is in good need of care some days, he isn’t glamorous or smooth nor does he pretend to be but he is sincere. You feel that he loves his supporters beyond the superficial; seeing them more than for their potential for donations or turning up at the polls.

(And just in case the Clinton-shills aren’t aware; Sanders is fully aware he is a white cis-male, he is Jewish not Christian, but still white, and he’s very privileged as a result. He KNOWS. No need to keep reminding him.)

Though he cleaned up last six of the seven primaries or caucuses, his chances are the nomination are still uncertain. It’s looking better but still uncertain. And he still may not get the nomination in the end. No matter what, Sanders will be remembered as a candidate who challenged the Democratic establishment, especially the Clinton juggernaut from the left. The insurgency of Sanders, driven by the youth proves that young people today are far from callow and apathetic. Young people know exactly what’s going on with their country and what to do about it. They will begin to destroy neoliberalism with their votes and bring the Democratic party back to its true progressive roots. If Clinton wins the nomination and ultimately the presidency in the general election. Let’s hope it’s the last we hear of them. The Clintons had their chance, they’ve overstayed their welcome and it’s time for them to spend their ill gotten millions in luxurious retirement, far away from the public. They can continue publishing books that no one will ever read, make speeches that no one will listen to or care about, but whatever they do, just stay out of our faces. This includes Chelsea too.


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