The Rise of Bernie Sanders

By Bing Chen

No one could have predicted the rise of Bernie Sanders a year ago, but now Sanders has posed quite the challenge against leading Democratic nomination candidate, Hillary Clinton, in her long time run for president. Sanders had a close loss to Clinton in Iowa and a large 27 point win over Clinton in New Hampshire.

Bernard “Bernie” Sanders was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. After graduating from the University of Chicago, he moved to Vermont and was later elected as mayor of Burlington, Vermont in 1981. After two terms as mayor, Sanders was elected congressman of Vermont for eight terms and became the Senator of Vermont in 2006.

The focus of Sanders’ campaign involves raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, adding free healthcare, and supporting affordable yet higher education. On his website, he also lists his plans to raise/implement taxes on large corporations and Wall Street, fight for LGBT and women’s rights, and implement fair immigration policies. His ultimate economic objective is to bridge the wealth gap between the rich and poor in this country.

Even at 74 years old, Sanders is very popular among young voters. He is inspiring memes and merchandise in his bid for the 2016 presidency, and he has become mainstream with #feelthebern on social media. At Brooklyn Tech, many students have been using the catch phrase “Feel the Bern,” and believe that Sanders will bring about change that is desperately needed.

Younger voters are particularly drawn to Sanders’ idealistic promises of bringing about revolutionary social changes. His outcry against social inequality has become a key idea that gathers support from many voters.

Sanders’s lofty promise of a free college education resonates with a lot of students. He inspires hope in college students who are worried about getting jobs after college, and the College Students for Berniegroup have chapters popping up in college campuses throughout the country.

A lot of seniors in high school who are 17 now and will be 18 during the general election can vote during the primaries. The New York primary falls on April 19th, and it’s important for both campaigns to get young voters to vote and to keep them interested. The candidates have accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter to stay connected with the younger generation of voters.

Many of the candidates have gained the support of prominent figures to extend their influence. Clinton has the support of Demi Lovato, and Sanders has won the support of Erica Garner, the daughter of the late Eric Garner. She has appeared in an ad for Sanders and has helped Sanders broaden his appeal to African Americans.

Even though Sanders has appealed to many millennials, many of the older Democratic voters are in favor of Clinton. Supporters of Sanders have deemed him a sincere and trustworthy candidate while Supporters of Clinton believe that Sanders cannot win the presidency against a Republican nominee.

The younger generation doesn’t have the same stigma against socialism that the older generation might have. The younger generation looks towards social democracies in northern Europe that are flourishing with the large welfare states, and believe that it would be a good change for America.

Will Sanders defy the odds and win the democratic bid for presidency? Clinton supporters say that they might have the edge over Sanders because of Clinton’s appeal to older voters and minority groups, and her recent victory in South Carolina seems to have brought Sanders down a notch, but who knows, a lot can happen from now until the end of the democratic primaries later this year.

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