Why Millennials are ‘Bern-ing’ for Bernie

By Steven Mahoney

Bernie Sanders’s life long history of advocacy for the oppressed and authenticity terrifies the establishment and excites young people while giving them hope and interest in the political process. Sanders promises revolutionary change that excites young people who are fed up with crony capitalism and big money in politics. Some of Sanders’s promises include breaking up “too big to fail” banks, placing more regulation on Wall Street, creating a single payer healthcare system, and providing free college tuition at all public universities.

Primary season kicked off at the beginning of the month with the Iowa Caucus. According to NBC News, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders came away with about 50% of the vote with Hillary taking the slight edge. February 9 was the New Hampshire Primary, where according to NBC News, Bernie Sanders came away with 60% of the vote, while Hillary Clinton lagged behind with just 38%. In both of these cases exit polls showed that young voters had a strong preference for Sanders over Clinton. In Iowa, according to an NBC News exit poll, 84% of 17-29 year-olds supported Sanders. While in New Hampshire, 83% of 18-29 year-olds supported Sanders.

Jamelle Bouie of Slate was onto something when he said that Hillary Clinton is a transactional politician, while Bernie Sanders is more ideological. Typically, transactional leadership is compared with transformational leadership. This may be one of the main reasons why Bernie is so successful amongst young voters even though he and Clinton have many similar views politically.

Transactional leaders are managerial leaders who focus on supervision, organization, and group performance. They motivate their followers by reward and punishment, and are typically associated with maintaining the status quo. Bouie says that it is hard to get people excited about a transactional politician, and says this is why Sanders’s campaign has generated so much more enthusiasm than Clinton’s.

Bernie Sanders is a transformational politician whose campaign revolves around the idea of leading a political revolution. Transformational leaders work to implement new ideas and create change by inspiring subordinates with high minded idealism and authenticity. They also encourage followers to think about group interest rather than self-interest.

Hillary Clinton is not fighting for the best interest of working class Americans, nor does she have the foresight needed to create the change our corrupt political system needs. Clinton represents the establishment and everything wrong with the current system. For Clinton the presidency is likely about legacy, power, and ultimately feeding her ego.

Clinton represents the reckless financial sector that many attribute with cause of the Great Recession of 2008. The New York Times reported that Bill and Hillary Clinton have made over $125 million in speaking fees since 2001. The Clintons gave some of those paid speeches to Wall Street firms. The New York Times reported that Goldman Sachs paid Clinton $675,000 for three speeches. The Washington Post reported that Bernie Sanders has criticized Hillary Clinton for taking over $15 million dollars in Super Pac money, many of which came from Wall Street. Just last week it was widely reported that the CEO of Goldman Sachs expressed his fear at the idea of a Bernie Sanders presidency.

Young people want real change and not deception and empty promises. Hillary Clinton represents the status quo, and everything wrong with the United States, while seeming manufactured. Bernie Sanders is a lifelong advocate for the oppressed, an authentic change maker, and a revolutionary leader. If Bernie Sanders does not get the nomination I will not be voting because that would be reinforcing the oppressive American ideological system of profits over people.


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