On Thursday, March 17, The Washington Post cited an analysis conducted by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), which detailed that, compared to both parties’ frontrunners, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, “Bernie Sanders has more votes than both of them-combined.”
According to the data CIRCLE provides, Sanders has accumulated 1.5 million votes, whereas Trump and Clinton each reside in the 600,000 range.
Furthermore, Sanders has broken records for the sheer number of individual contributions he’s received. According to The Huffington Post, Sanders beat President Barack Obama’s record of 2.2 million contributors with 2.3 million as of December 21, 2015.These individual donations to Sanders’ campaign are, on average, less than $25.
This means that, while Clinton may have more money with her donations from average citizens and her Super PAC combined, Sanders simply has more enthusiasm on his trail that is primarily fueled by the Democratic youth.
Some of you may ask why our generation likes Sanders so much. This article hopes to answer that question. To begin with, Clinton has consistently come across as disingenuous and lacking in instinct, and her track record does not exactly leave this belief unfounded.
In the midst of post-9/11 paranoia, Clinton voted for the war against Iraq in 2002. This same year, not only was Sanders against the war in Iraq, but he also backed up his decision on television with several points that would prove to be extremely relevant.
A couple of these points were both the notation that war is an extremely expensive decision to pile onto the already existing large national debt (it was 6 trillion dollars at the time) and his fear about “who will govern Iraq once Saddam Hussein is removed (and if) Islamic fundamentalists will be overthrown and replaced by extremists.”
The former rings true due to the fact that, not including payments to veterans, the cost of the Iraq war was about $800 billion, and as The Huffington Post states, when combined with “the costs of the Afghanistan war and the Bush-era tax cuts… you’ll account for almost half of the debt that the nation is set to owe by 2019.” The latter is relevant for obvious reasons.
Granted, Clinton has since admitted to the Iraq War being a mistake, but that argument falls flat to the thousands of soldiers who lost their lives in the search of weapons of mass destruction programs that did not exist.
When concerning gay rights and issues, something heavily focused upon by millennials, the candidates have very different stances historically.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was an act that sought to have marriage under federal law be defined as a union between a man and a women and permitted states to refuse to give recognition to any same-sex marriages. Sanders was one of the few at the time that publically opposed this bill.
Additionally, Sanders has both supported the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which prohibits any form of discrimination against the LGBTQIA community and can be seen in a widely viewed video of him arguing in favor of gay men and women in the military against Representative Duke Cunningham in 1995.
Conversely, DOMA was signed by President Bill Clinton and was defended by his wife up until 2013 when she decided that she was an advocate for gay marriage and gay rights.
In regard to the Black Lives Matter movement and African American rights, this past year alone shows incredible differences between the two candidates.
While it is important to consider Sanders’ history of marching with Martin Luther King, Jr. and his getting arrested in protesting for civil rights along with Clinton’s past labeling of Black men as “super predators” and her open support for anti-Civil Rights Act congressmen Barry Goldwater, it is this past year of both Democrats’ handlings of the racial climate that I implore you to keep in mind.
I have previously written for this paper that during the first Democratic debate when asked if “black lives matter “or if “all lives matter,” Clinton did not even use these phrases in her answer. This in it of itself shows a lack of integrity on Clinton’s part as it both demonstrates a refusal to commit to a social justice issue in fear of backlash and a lack of education about the systematic racism existing today. After this, she was met with complaints and altered her campaign to one that was suddenly putting African American rights at the forefront of her conversation.
Additionally, when Sanders was met with Black Lives Matter protestors, he gave up his time to give the microphone over to them to speak, not silencing their narrative. Clinton took the opposite approach and had Black Lives Matter activists escorted out by police, which is ironic considering one of the most prominent issues discussed within the movement is racism exhibited by police. For there to be such a disconnect is astonishing from a candidate who was supposed to be doing all she could to spread awareness about stories from minorities being overlooked.
Why does this information statistically impact younger people at a much higher rate?
In my opinion, much of it has to do with older people watching more television. It is no secret that as people grow older, their television-viewing habits increase.
However, one of Clinton’s highest contributing financial providers is Time Warner, which is a media company that owns several news networks, including CNN. This has led to a very pro-Clinton climate on TV, which in turn makes stations either demean Sanders or not even acknowledge him at all. Because younger people are watching television less, they get their news via social media, which promotes discussions from a wider variety of perspectives.
While some may argue that political discussion is too nuanced to be done virtually, I would have to disagree.
There will always be some avenues on the Internet that are flooded with bias and inaccuracy, but it is the ability for us to be journalists through recording political rallies and making statuses that allows us to have a broadened understanding of politics that more readily presents hypocrisy to its receivers.
Another large aspect of Clinton’s campaign is the excitement about the possibility of our first woman president. While I agree that there needs to be more diversity amongst sexes, races, and other social groups, I don’t want to go into Election Day voting for the woman. I want to go into Election Day voting for the best potential candidate. This election season, I think that the best candidate is a man. In the meantime, the majority of congressmen are up for re-election this year, so now is the time to elect those who will better the nation and reflect the diversity of this country.
It is with all of this in consideration that I declare my vote to Sanders. To my fellow Democrats that are supporters of Sanders, Clinton, or still undecided, I urge you all to listen to multiple perspectives, have conversations, and be sure of who you want as president so you can get out and vote!
After all, if enough of us don’t come out to vote, we may very well have a wall-builder or a Zodiac Killer being sworn in 2017.
Halle Nelson is a second-year student majoring in communication studies with minors in English literature and deaf studies. They can be reached at HN824858@wcupa.edu