A new USA Today poll confirms that millennials do favor Bernie Sanders’ political revolution rhetoric over Hillary Clinton’s experience. Sanders holds an 11-point edge over Clinton, winning youth support 46 percent to 35 percent.
Northwestern students who support Senator Sanders say that they feel comfortable with Sanders’ revolutionary approach and his desire to deconstruct and rebuild the current economic system.
“Capitalism is just unsustainable. By definition, it requires unfettered, constant growth by some at the expense of others,” said Weinberg senior Maddie Higgins. “You can’t make things better for people who are marginalized in American society by making changes within the system because the system was built to disadvantage those people.”
Weinberg junior Philip Meyers, another student on Northwestern’s campus who openly supports Senator Sanders, agrees that America’s current economic system is inherently flawed, and says that Sanders’ reconstructive approach is the rational direction for our country.
“He is the only politician who is currently looking at the system from a very pragmatic and objective point of view,” Meyers said.
Higgins and Meyers’ comfort with Senator Sanders’ revolutionary rhetoric reflects a national trend among millennials. A recent survey done by the Harvard Institute of Politics found that only 9 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds said that Sanders’ use of the word “socialist” made them less likely to vote for him. In fact, a poll done in May by YouGov found that this constituency finds “capitalist” to be a more offensive word than “socialist”.
Both Meyers and Higgins said their increasingly liberal attitudes are largely a result of their Northwestern liberal arts education. Meyers said his views have changed drastically since arriving on Northwestern’s campus after serving as president of the Young Conservative’s club in high school.
The two also cited Sanders’ consistency, and say that they dislike what they see as an effort by Clinton to adjust her policy and image to what will make her most popular among voters.
“It sometimes feels like she’s trying to be cool. The whole 'abuela' thing she did – it kind of feels like she’s always trying to be in with the minorities, and it’s just like stop trying so hard. Just support policies that benefit those people, and then they will support you,” Higgins said.
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“Sanders is unique in that he has been fighting for these causes that the millennial generation has championed long before they were the norm. He’s not adopting these ideas for the purpose of popularity,” Meyers said.
McCormick senior and co-president of NU for Hillary Kevin Cheng believes that the policies Hillary advocates are much more feasible than not only Senator Sanders’ platform, but also than the platforms of every other candidate running.
“I think Hillary’s proposals are much more realistic to get through a very gridlocked system, and while rhetoric and ideas are great and inspiring, the job of the president is to deliver for people,” Cheng said. “Hillary has been around and knows how to do that a lot more than not just Bernie, but than any other candidate as well.”
Cheng believes that Clinton will secure the nomination, but that the widespread support for Senator Sanders among college students can only be a good thing both for Clinton and for the Democratic Party.
“I think it’s very fair to say that the differences between Hillary and Bernie are so much smaller than the differences between the two of them and the Republicans. At the end of the day, this kind of enthusiasm will be good for the Democratic nominee will hopefully lead to victory,” Cheng said.