Author: Carson Malbrough
We are at a time in our country in which public opinion is transitioning away from “establishment” politicians to outsiders with new, fresh voices. What this means is that during this election season, the candidates attracting the most voters are either non-politicians or those who do not possess the standard tone or behavior of a reserved politician. This shift is manifesting itself in the race for the White House in 2016, with candidates from various backgrounds seeking their respective party nominations for the presidency. Among these outsiders, the most popular are real-estate mogul and businessman Donald Trump, retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
Sanders may not be as much of an outsider as the other aforementioned candidates since his political career began back in 1981, but he is set apart by his aggressive, impassioned tone, his consistent voting history during his time in Congress and his complete disconnection from corporations and Wall Street. Perhaps the most compelling strength of Sanders’ campaign is his massive popularity among younger voters, a valuable part of the electorate that has the potential to shake things up at the polls next November.
Sanders’ connection to this block of voters comes from the conviction with which he speaks, an honesty that is lacking in American politics. He makes voters feel as though they are getting the real deal, someone who does not change their views for political expediency or who waited until the past couple years to take a stance on fundamentally progressive issues. While it is early in the primary season, Sanders’ campaign has gradually been increasing in popularity with potential to reach the White House.
A self-described Democratic Socialist, Sanders’ ideological views are what set him apart from other candidates seeking the presidency. He defined the term via his Twitter account, stating that, “Democratic Socialism means democracy. It means creating a government that represents all of us, not just the wealthiest people in America.” Though implementing socialism within the framework of the Democratic ideology is unprecedented in the history of American presidents, everyday Americans could benefit from this nontraditional political approach.
The issue is that many Americans fear that socialism is ideologically the same as communism, or that it is a foil to traditional capitalism. Neither of these statements are true. Sanders has rightfully cited Social Security, Medicare, and police and fire departments as socialist programs that have benefitted millions of Americans. His identification as a democratic socialist is unique, but considering the inequities plaguing the U.S., approaching economic issues with a socialist approach could indeed improve things for the middle class and the poor. During the first democratic national debate, Sanders was asked if being a socialist means he is not a capitalist, to which he responded by stating that he supports true capitalism — not an unfair system where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
Another major challenge for Sanders will be defeating the current frontrunner, Hillary Clinton. A former first lady, senator and secretary of state, Clinton indeed has the political experience necessary to be a contender for the Democratic nomination. However, this is where Sanders can capitalize: his name is not associated with negative controversies, scandals or blemishes to the same degree as his opponent. Americans’ approval of Clinton is already waning. A recent Gallup poll indicates that Clinton’s favorability ratings are nearing an all-time low with only 41 percent of Americans viewing her as “favorable.”
During the primary season, Sanders is doing what he can to rally registered voters of the Democratic party to support him and overtake Clinton for the nomination. Once he can achieve that, Sanders will then transform his campaign to attract a wider spread of voters, including young Democrats who do not normally vote, independents who are more centrist in their views and even Republicans who are unsatisfied with their own party. He already tested the waters of this method when he spoke at Liberty University, a predominantly conservative university, in September.
Sanders is exactly what Americans need in a president. Young voters have mobilized for the senator because he is a progressive that campaigns for everyday Americans, not just the wealthy. He is the definition of a public servant with the actions to prove it. It is time for us to truly observe the presidential candidates’ platforms and their respective histories as we decide who will best advocate on behalf of our concerns. In other words, it is time for Americans to “Feel the Bern.”
Carson Malbrough is an undeclared sophomore. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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