How Bernie Sanders managed to gain so much support


It has been frustrating to many Americans, especially older ones, how a self proclaimed socialist from Vermont has managed to gain as much support as Bernie Sanders.  He narrowly lost to Hillary Clinton in Iowa, many calling it a virtual tie. This was a place she led him by 30% just 6 months ago. While in New Hampshire he beat Clinton by over 20 percentage points.  His support stems from an angry electorate of young people, such as myself, who feel that the political system has been rigged to help big corporations and special interests and no one else.

Sanders is the first candidate in a long time that has young people excited and engaged in the political process.  The main reason we like Sanders so much is that he is not beholden to special interests and seems genuine.  Sanders has refused to accept any from Super PACs and has instead been funding his campaign entirely on small donations from individual people.  

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand has received in excess of $50 million from large corporations many of them large banks such as Goldman Sachs. We are somehow supposed to believe, however, that she is going to protect the American people from these big corporations.  Evidently, people don’t see her rhetoric about restoring the financial industry as sincere because this exact industry is financing her campaign.  Even many of Clinton’s proposals to regulate the financial industry during this election season have seemed disingenuous and forced.

Sanders’ support does not just come from young people. However, many middle aged white middle and lower class voters have been drawn to Sanders message of populism.  Although they may not be as passionate of supporters of Sanders as young people, these voters feel just as left out of the political process. Sanders does this by vocalizing many of the middle class’ concerns including creating a safety net in the unfortunate case of unemployment as well as proposing free college for all.  It has been argued, especially by the older part of the electorate, that they shouldn’t have to pay for other people’s children to go to college. However, this would greatly help the poor and middle class move up the economic ladder without being burdened by hundreds of thousands of dollars in college debt.  

A telling exit poll from the New Hampshire primary was when voters prioritized the trustworthiness of the candidates. A staggering 91% voted for Sanders while only 5% gave their support to Clinton. This demonstrates that a vote for Sanders is the equivalent of a vote against Hillary Clinton and establishment politics. Sanders has accomplished the feat of being a career politician, yet still looking like an outsider. In a political season that has been dubbed the year of the outsider, Sanders has managed to align himself as an outsider candidate who tells it like it is.  Many Americans are drawn to this message and not to the bigotry and racism that has exuded from the other candidate who “tells it like it is”, Donald Trump.

Even people who don’t agree with many of Sanders’ policies and economic proposals can at least marvel at how a politician has managed to mobilize and excite a faction of millennial voters, who otherwise would be disinterested in politics.  If you can’t get behind his proposals, at least see the magic in being able to reach so many people who otherwise may have not cared what happened to the future of this country.  Although ideologically many of the people voting for him may not even completely agree with him, it has to be understood that his supporters want someone who isn’t afraid to speak their mind and stay true to their beliefs.

Bernie has been able to organize a growing and crucial portion of the electorate in young people like myself, as well as attract white working class voters.  To have a chance of winning the primary, he will need to attract more minority voters.However, it has been a miracle in and of itself that he has managed to get as much support as he has. The Nevada Caucuses provided a glimpse into the future as exit polls showed Sanders won among Hispanics, but Clinton held her large lead over him in the African American vote.