Consider this fact: Since the primaries began in early February, the oldest presidential candidate in the field has received more votes from people under 30 than the two party frontrunners combined.
Senator Bernie Sanders, the 74 year-old democratic socialist, has galvanized millions of millennials with his anti-establishment message, and in Michigan earlier this month, he pulled off “one of the greatest upsets in modern political history” with the help of 81 percent of the under-30 vote — a huge margin that has been relatively consistent throughout. Young people have packed his rallies across the country and he has been dominant on social media, with almost two million followers on Twitter and three-and-a-half million on Facebook.
This broad support from America’s youngest adults has naturally led some commentators to pronounce Bernie Sanders the future of the Democratic party. And, in one light, even at his advanced age, it’s hard to disagree. While his nomination is looking less and less likely, Sanders has accomplished a great deal by mobilizing both young and older progressives and shaping the national debate.
Even more remarkable, he has convinced a growing number of American voters that “socialism” is not a dirty word, but a positive alternative to corporate capitalism. By openly declaring himself a democratic socialist, Sanders has given a friendly face to a word that has long been used by right-wingers to scare voters. And whether one agrees with the Senator’s policies or not, it is hard to deny that he is sincere. Only the most paranoid conspiracy theorists could claim he has some ulterior motives. What you see is what you get, no blatant flip-flopping or transparent pandering.
This sincerity has been a driving factor for many young voters. On social media, where many millennials learn about the election, numerous videos have been produced comparing the senator’s lifelong political consistency — whether it’s him railing against Alan Greenspan in the early 2000s or deriding a homophobic congressman in the ’90s — to Hillary Clinton’s long history of flip-flopping on important issues like gay marriage, free trade, crime, and so on.A
Bernie’s revolution could still disappear: Why a more progressive America is by no means guaranteed