A couple of months ago, I went to a Bernie Sanders campaign rally in New Orleans. While I was there, I took a lot of pictures of the event, and sent a few of them to my very conservative Republican mother. Her observation of the event was that it was primarily young, and very white. Well, there were quite a few African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and even older people in the audience, but she was right about the overwhelming amount of young people in attendance.
Make no mistake about it, that’s a good thing for Democrats.
As you may already know, I was raised as a conservative. In those early years, I met and campaigned for Republicans like George Allen or Pat Buchanan. As I got older, things changed and I became more and more liberal, especially after 9/11 when this country bought into the Bush Administration’s “War on Terror.” Utterly disgusted by the Iraq War and after watching friends of mine come back home from the conflict with PTSD (at least one killed himself), I voted for Kerry in 2004.
In 2008, President Obama excited me as a voter and I voted in the Florida primaries even though we were told votes wouldn’t count due to the state moving up the primary date. Needless to say, I was ecstatic when he won in a landslide over John McCain who I had initially considered voting for, right up until he chose a shrieking governor from Alaska as his running mate.
After the Tea Party takeover in 2010, politics became much more important to me. Now living in the deep-red state of Louisiana, the realization that conservative ideas from right-wing politicians like Bobby Jindal were a failure finally struck home.
In 2008, Barack Obama brought out the youth vote, and he won in a landslide. For a short period of time, both the House and Senate were in the control of Democrats before gridlock set in after the death of Robert Byrd, and then the 2010 Tea Party takeover happened. Thanks to low voter turnout (especially from younger people), far-right conservatives have blocked President Obama and the left from implementing important changes like raising the minimum wage or addressing climate change.
Don’t get me wrong, Barack Obama and the Supreme Court have made some changes despite GOP opposition, but the question remains as to where do we go from here? Confronted with the clown car that is the Republican primary field and the machine that is the Hillary Clinton campaign, many of us want something different. This is where Bernie Sanders comes in.
Unlike any of the other candidates, Bernie Sanders excites younger voters. Democrats desperately need them to turn out in order to win in 2016 and keep the White House out of Republican hands. On Reddit, which is very popular with younger males, Bernie Sanders has a subreddit which has over 115,000 subscribers and news about him regularly makes the front page.
Sanders’ appeal isn’t relegated solely to young, socially liberal voters either. Quite a few older and even moderately conservative people, including rural voters, like him due to his pro-union stance and pragmatic approach to gun control. As a moderate-left independent who owns a number of weapons, I also appreciate his support for sensible gun regulations which take into consideration those of us who aren’t criminals or paranoid, anti-government fanatics.
Despite the angry squawking of corporate media and right-wing bloggers about socialism, there isn’t really anything about Bernie Sanders that is extreme when you compare his platform to that of mainstream political parties in other developed nations like Norway or Germany, which are both very much democratic socialist countries.
Now if only I can convince my conservative family members who are in love with Bobby Jindal or Dr. Ben Carson and obsess over non-issues like Planned Parenthood to see the light as well. That would be nothing short of a miracle.
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