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Mar 04

Why Millennials love Bernie Sanders: Column

Basically laughed off the stage when he declared his campaign for the presidency in April 2015, Bernie Sanders is making people take him seriously. After a remarkable near tie with Hillary Clinton in theIowa caucus and a double-digit win over her in New Hampshire, Sanders is now causing Clinton’s campaign to reassess.

While Clinton is somewhat concerned about his support among women, a bigger problem for her is his solid support among the Millennial generation: in Iowa, he beat Clinton by 70 points among voters ages 17 to 29. His numbers with Millennials trounce those of President Obama in 2008, and we all know how that campaign against Clinton turned out.

How did a self-proclaimed socialist win the hearts of these lazy, entitled narcissists? How could our youth be so uneducated when it comes to American politics and history?

Actually, I would argue it is not at all a lack of education that is driving Millennial support for change. In teaching American government at Meredith College in Raleigh, N.C., and previously at several colleges in Texas, I interact with Millennials every day. When we discuss the U.S. Constitution, after describing the context in which it was written and explaining its framework of government and provisions, I always ask my students what they think about it.

“Why does it still have the three-fifths compromise?” and “the Electoral College makes no sense” are regular comments. Some would like phrasing to be cleared up, like who counts as a “natural born citizen” (Ted Cruz would probably like this cleared up as well), and some would like an explicit right to privacy to be added.

My students are far from the first to question our continued devotion to the original Constitution. Sanford Levinson, a law professor at the University of Texas, wrote an entire book dedicated to why we need a new constitutional convention.

In fact, no less than George Washington and Thomas Jefferson believed the Constitution they presided over as our first and third presidents should and would be re-written. Jefferson wrote, “We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.” While I doubt anyone considers our founding fathers barbarous, my students consistently remark that there a lot of issues with governing that we confront in modern America that our current Constitution simply does not address.

We are well acquainted with many policy areas in which Millennials differ from nearly every other generation: gay marriage, legalization of marijuana, the criminal justice system. They are also probably a major reason why support for the death penaltyhas slowly been eroding.

Additionally, Millennials are leading very different lives from the lives other generations in the United States have led because of crushing student loan debtaffecting everything from home buying to starting a business to even having a family. This group thinks differently and wants something different from our government than the same old partisan gridlock and crony capitalism.

They probably aren’t actually socialists — Millennials are independent and many favor smaller government — but, then again, neither, strictly speaking, is Bernie Sanders.

So maybe it isn’t shocking at all that Sanders is so popular with Millennials. He’s talking about a revolution while all of the other candidates seem to be trying to force them into a dusty old coat.

Source: Why Millennials love Bernie Sanders: Column

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