Sanders connecting with young voters’ interests

Bernie Sanders rally
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Sanders clear favorite in Hi-Line Survey; Carson, Rubio tie for distant second

Some of us grew up wondering whether or not we would be eating that night or if our parents would be home yet after working the graveyard shifts at their second jobs.

We watched our parents struggle to provide for us in a time of recent economic devastation.

We grew up in households full of stresses over how we would afford to attend college, with many being the first in our families to even be able to go.

Our generation grew up full of uncertainty. We are the “gloom and doom” generation, tucked away and sharing our thoughts only within cryptic messages posted on social media to be decoded by someone scrolling past who takes a minute to read it because he or she might actually care about us.

We grew up wanting change. We were born into a world that was designed to knock us down before we even got a running start, and much more so if we are in a minority group.

As we grow older, we begin to look for things that we have the ever-expanding power to change. What many of us don’t realize is how much power our generation holds, especially now that many of us have one of the world’s strongest powers — the power to vote.

The millennial age group makes up approximately 20 percent of our population. When we look at demographics in the United States for minorities alone, in our generation, minorities make up around a third of our population, while if you look at those in previous generations, they make up a mere fifth of their population.

Why does this matter?

We are all aware that the next election is creeping up faster than we are comfortable with, yet many Americans have found safety in selecting a candidate to show our support. Albeit not being a hugely popular candidate at first, Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders has suddenly taken the political world by storm, and none other than the millennials have shown massive support for him.

It’s time to break down a few key reasons why so much of our generation is “feeling the Bern.”

In my opinion, one of the most imperative strategies that Sanders has used is to actively include us in his campaign. Plastered across all of his advertisements and emails is the statement that they’re all supported by our donations — not by super PACs or other billionaires. As our generation is beginning to get into the workforce, where our money goes is a huge statement of our personal interests, and to have enough people donating bits of their hard-earned money towards Sanders’ campaign to where it can be fully operational truly proves how much he is supported.

Not only does Sanders have his supporters fund his campaign instead of buying the election, but he also lets us speak up for ourselves. A rally that Sanders was speaking at was interrupted by Black Rights Matter activists, and instead of speaking over them (like most do) or kicking them out, he simply sat back and let them speak. By giving the youth a voice, he is allowing us to speak for our future and for the change that we desire.

Sanders also explores the idea that America is not preparing young minorities for school, but instead for prison. He claims that with the way that police target youth of color, mixed in with racist attitudes and poverty creating an environment that fuels potentially harmful choices, young people of color are so easily being set up to fail. America also has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with rates being significantly higher for people of color. In a country that sets up so many of our youth to fail, many of these targeted individuals are looking to Sanders and his compassion and yearn to decrease incarceration rates and help get minorities back on the right track. In the meantime, other candidates (I’m looking at you, Trump) want nothing to do with minorities, lest we forget all of the recent racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic remarks he has made.

Of course, as many supporters have gone crazy about Sanders’ free college tuition plan, there’s been critique as well. The question “how does he expect to pull this off?” constantly plays in our minds. One thing’s for sure, being a student about to go to college and already stressing about the expenses, my ears are perked. Many of our parents were not able to go to college due to financial stress and wanting to instead save for our futures.

Unfortunately, tuition prices continue to skyrocket, and in these years, college is more mandatory than not thanks to rising competition in the workforce. Right on Sanders’ website, he discusses in depth his desire and plan for free college.

“In a highly competitive global economy, we need the best-educated workforce in the world. It is insane and counter-productive to the best interests of our country and our future, that hundreds of thousands of bright young people cannot afford to go to college, and that millions of others leave school with a mountain of debt that burdens them for decades.”

Sanders is aware that our generation is the future, and he knows that the key to our country’s success is education. When you eliminate college debt, you eliminate a huge barrier keeping many of our youth from getting the higher education that they need. Parents can also go back to college if need be and get a degree, leading to better jobs and more financial stability.

Although he got off to a slow start, Sanders is taking the world by storm and is steadily gaining ground in the political world.

When you have a candidate who is so passionate about fixing our youth and the obstacles keeping them from reaching their potential, it only makes sense that so many young people are “feeling the Bern.”

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