Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Why students love Bernie Sanders

By Bridget Higgins

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Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian

(Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

Bernie Sanders looked like an unlikely candidate when he first announced his campaign. He was older, a self-declared socialist and had “crazy” ideas that most people considered near impossible to accomplish. Many classical party democrats criticized Bernie supporters as idealistic and young, just as GOP party elites pointed to Trump supporters as uneducated. How exactly is Bernie even competing with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination? The answer is quite simple: revolution.

The 2016 election is ruled by revolution, whether it is one of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz or Bernie Sanders. Typical choices by political parties are being eschewed in favor of the candidates that appeal to the rank-and-file members of the party.

Students are no exception. According to a poll by the Reason Foundation, 43 percent of millennials called themselves democrats or leaned that way, as compared to just 22 percent for republicans—the remaining 34 percent identified as independent, which is three times more the number of older Americans who are independent. This means that millennials are more likely to follow their own opinions than the classic opinions of the main political parties.

While Social Security and Medicare are protected by many candidates, student loans remain the victim in most federal budgets. Student loan debt can affect people for decades, adding to monthly bills and creating challenges for young families who desire upward mobility. However, older voters tend to have a higher representation at the polls, so their wants and needs are prioritized first. According to a Nov. 9, 2012 article by USA Today, more than half of eligible voters ages 18-29 did not vote in the 2012 presidential election, while around two-thirds of the oldest voting generation voted. While Social Security and retirement stability came first, the youth suffered.

College student loan debt and economic equality were never quite at the front of a campaign’s platform like it is now with Bernie Sanders’ message. This is why Iowa could #FeelTheBern during its primaries, when Bernie won by 70 points among young voters.

Many of these millennials are not “Democratic Socialists” or even any type of socialist. They just do not want “more of the same.” Political legacies frighten them. This is because the interests of students do not follow legacy or party politics. History proves that such things have essentially grown beneficial programs for older Americans at the expense of the younger generations. If this were not the case, students would not be swamped with debt and find themselves paying more in loans than in mortgage payments.

On Monday, Bernie Sanders came to the Mullins Center at UMass Amherst for a rally, causing lines that began hours before the door even opened to the event. Students are rushing to support Bernie Sanders because he represents their interests. Bernie represents the revolution to ordinary politics that can bring swarms of students to the polls.

Bridget Higgins is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]

6 Comments

6 Responses to “Why students love Bernie Sanders”

  1. Rib on February 25th, 2016 10:47 am

    Nobody’s forced to take out huge loans to get a degree in a major that doesn’t pay well. Spending two years at a community college first, or commuting to a state school won’t leave anyone in serious debt. Take an extra class or two each year and graduate early. Those that want their loans forgiven are just deadbeats without any personal responsibility.

  2. Anon on February 25th, 2016 12:08 pm

    Rib, community colleges have sky high drop rates and a poor track record for better outcomes after graduation. They’re not a one size fits all answer. No one’s arguing that anyone is forced to borrow money. But students who do borrow are prohibited from participating in the economy just so that the government can make a profit. That’s bad business.

    And college students with 70 hour schedules like myself probably can’t relate to your deadbeats accusation. The free market failed the consumer since costs have increased 4x faster than inflation but the product has stayed the same, if even.

  3. Rib on February 25th, 2016 2:06 pm

    Anon, the government is not making a profit off student loans. That’s ridiculous, and if they taught you that at UMass, you should ask for your money back. If you think college costs too much, you need to do a cost benefit analysis as to whether it is worth it. If the return isn’t there, then don’t go. Or find a cheaper school. As for a 70 hour schedule, you surely can’t be going to UMass. They average class schedule is around 15 hours a week.

  4. Zac Bears on February 26th, 2016 12:14 pm

    According to most UMass course syllabi, one 3 credit course at UMass has 3 hours of classroom time per week, plus an additional 8-10 hours of work outside of the classroom. Since the average student takes 4 courses, that’s about 30-50 hours a week. Then add any jobs or extracurriculars on top of that.

  5. Anon on February 26th, 2016 1:32 pm

    The government does profit off student loans, when factoring in debt and interest repayment. This doesn’t end up as profit every year because so many students can’t pay, but the point is that the feds are charging profitable rates. Whether or not they actually get the money isn’t relevant. My class schedule is over that, I work, and I am very active in politics and other work. I don’t have to do everything I do. But being judgmental about the effort of a class of people who you don’t know tends to derail any conversation.

  6. The_Chairman on February 29th, 2016 3:41 pm

    “I worked 40 hours a week and still graduated with a 4.0 in engineering” is about as legitimate as telling slaves in 1840 that instead of complaining about the system they should work hard and save up to earn their freedom. If you do it, great for you, but it has nothing to do with the debate over whether or not education should be a commodity.

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