Without the youth vote, Bernie Sanders won’t get his political revolution

Without the youth vote, Bernie Sanders won’t get his political revolution February 26, 2016
Image: Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons
Image: Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons

America is on the brink of a political revolution. To have a politician who is championing medicare-for-all, fighting to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, vowing to end Citizens United ­–returning democracy to the American people—and who has vowed to take on Wall Street, all while not accepting a dime from them, and polling by as much as 6 points ahead nationally, according to some polls; this is simply unheard of.

Yet, today Bernie Sanders, an Independent senator from Vermont is leading the charge of his self-proclaimed political revolution. However, it may be the revolution that never came, that is if the voters fail to turn up as they have been around the country.

Hillary Clinton is being touted by the media and by many in the Democratic Party as the clear winner, even before Super Tuesday and well before the national convention. She is the establishment candidate, she is their sure thing to continue on with the party plan, no questions asked. This is not something the party will get with Sanders. So it is up to the voters who say they want a revolution to actually show up and vote.

In Nevada, only around 80,000 Democratic voters turned out, compared to 2008’s primary in which 118,000 showed up. Sanders was well aware of this when he said on Meet the Press following the caucus, “I wish we had had a larger turnout.” Sanders only lost the state by five points, but the outcome could have been a lot smaller if voters had shown up.

Even in New Hampshire where Sanders won by a sizable margin, the turnout was about 251,000 as again compared to the 2008 primary when 288,000 showed up. Again, in Iowa, the state saw a 25 percent drop in voter turnout, handing another victory to Clinton by only the smallest of margins.

Sanders supporters should take note and be alarmed by these numbers. “His entire candidacy is built on the premise that he, and he alone, can boost turnout in ways pundits and the political establishment fail to appreciate,” writes Steve Benen, a blogger for MSNBC’s Maddow blog.

Sanders biggest problem is young voters. They overwhelmingly support him, by over 80 percent, but they generally fail to turn out on election day. The older voters, clearly support Clinton, and they showed up in staggering larger numbers than the under 30 crowd.

With Sanders campaign relying so much on the younger demographic, his battle to the White House is an uphill one. Phillip Bump of the Washington Post offers a somber reminder to those young voters who just think they can watch Sanders walk into the Oval Office simply because he is polling so well, “This is why campaigns that need younger voters in order to win often don’t.”

Young voters have almost become the laughing stock of our democracy. Political pundits have laughed at the chances of a Sanders presidency simply because he was willing to put so much reliance on the young, energized voter. Much like a young Barack Obama did in 2008, but with a much more radical message of change.

Young voters need to wake up and realize their voice could soon be lost if they fail to act and to act now. If they stay at home on Super Tuesday, if they continue to stay home and discouraged, the things they claim to fight for will be lost and they will be left with another four years of the same establishment politics they have simply grown accustomed.

Sanders chances are far from over, but younger voters need to turn up, they need to make their voice heard. They have become so apathetic towards American politics they are not sure how to act when they finally believe in a candidate.

The answer, however, is simple. Turn up, be heard, and watch your revolution walk right into the White House.


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