In a recent op-ed for the Observer, Bernie Quigley declared that millennials have chosen their candidate, and that candidate is Bernie Sanders.
“And the evidence is almost irrefutable now that the Millennials, who communicate constantly via Facebook and other social networks, have chosen Vermont Independent/socialist senator Bernie Sanders to be their man.”
It is well documented that millennials and other young voters were key in electing President Obama in 2008 and 2012, and in 2016 they (we) will be just as significant in electing the next president.
One reason for overwhelming support of the millennials may be that Bernie Sanders advocates for forgiving student loan debt which is currently in the trillions and growing, and even introduced a bill that would provide free tuition at all public universities.
“Countries like Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and many more are providing free or inexpensive higher education for their young people. We should be doing the same,” remarked the senator when asked about his bill.
Sanders also advocates legalizing marijuana, combating climate change, fighting income inequality, improving the immigration system, and has supported LGBT rights and reproductive rights for decades. Such issues are important for younger Americans, and each has already inspired movements organized and executed by millennials on university campuses and beyond.
As well, Sanders has one of the largest followings on Facebook and Twitter of any sitting U.S. Senator, with over 1.2 million online followers in total. As younger Americans continue to consume their news online, such social media exposure will provide a platform for connecting with more young voters heading into 2016. And as older generations of Americans continue to join these online platforms as well, such exposure can bring the campaign’s message to an even broader audience.
But whether an insurgent candidate can surprise the American political psyche and once again carry a grassroots movement into the White House is still not clear, though the seemingly impossible appears to be growing more possible as the campaign continues to surprise the nation with each passing month.
On July 1, 2015, Sanders shocked media outlets and political observers when he drew a crowd of 10,000 people for one event in Madison, Wisconsin. Sanders’ speech was well received, with the crowd cheering many times as the Democratic candidate outlined his stance on many issues. Paid family leave, protecting social security and Medicare, raising the minimum wage, unionization of the workforce, higher taxes on the rich, strong opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, federal works programs, and many other economically progressive actions and projects were discussed by the candidate during his speech. And such a proud progressive platform is proving successful in building a massive populist movement for the candidate heading into the 2016 primaries.
“Tonight we have made a bit of history. Tonight we have more people at any meeting for a candidate of President of the United States than any other candidate.”
Sanders didn’t speak solely on the economics of the United States. Sanders also discussed many social and civil rights issues including ending police brutality against people of color, protecting reproductive rights for women, expanding LGBT rights, and combating climate change; issues that are currently inspiring political activism across the nation.
Such momentum remained with Sanders as he again drew a crowd of over 7,500 people, this time to an event in Portland, Maine on July 6 where the senator ignited the crowd with a brief history of democratic action and activism in the United States.
“What is my point? My point is a simple one: is that if we want real change, it’s not just electing someone, hopefully me [crowd cheers], but it’s more than that … the only way that change takes place is when we develop that strong grassroots movement, make that political revolution, stand together, and then we bring about change,” the senator declared to a cheering crowd in Portland, Maine.
But is it enough? Will Bernie Sanders be able to galvanize more of the American people with his populist message of economic fairness and a truly representative government? The outcome is unpredictable at this point in the cycle, but it appears that Bernie Sanders is becoming a formidable opponent for Hillary Clinton as each attempt to capture the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.
More than that, Bernie Sanders appears to be striking a nerve in the American public and creating a revolution of political thought as he brings thousands together to hear his messages of a grander nation and a better society. And the senator is doing so in a truly progressive fashion with a populist strategy of speaking directly to the people with honesty and integrity, fighting back against the moneyed interests who spend billions buying politicians, and uniting Americans of all backgrounds.
Will Bernie Sanders prove that a populist movement, a “political revolution,” far outside the beltway can counter the will of the established political order in the United States? Only time will tell if such a venture is possible, but the trends within the political consciousness of the American electorate, the American people, seem to be shifting toward maybe.