In 2016, I showed up on a cold spring night to cast my vote for the Democratic primary. I, like a good many others, voted for Bernie Sanders. That year, Bernie endorsed Hillary and the Democratic party would go on to nominate her for the 2016 election.
Whether or not you agree with Hillary's nomination in that election cycle matters very little - what matters right now is that our democracy is currently at a turning point. The next president that we have will be in a more pivotal situation than maybe any other president. Calming the tensions between parties that have erupted since the Trump era began will be no small task.
You see, my generation - peak millennials - are already hesitant about the political systems that surround us. A common refrain among my peers growing up was the classic "If voting did anything, they wouldn't let you do it."
Political apathy is rampant in my generation, but admittedly is starting to be turned around. The recent flipping of the House of Representatives showed a lot of people my age that voting could have a relatively immediate consequence. Impeachment wouldn't have happened without it, and it seems that many my age are starting to understand the gravity of that.
Among my demographic, Bernie is by far the most popular candidate. Even in other demographics, he is consistently the #1 or #2 choice, and even among fervent Biden supporters, Bernie is consistently their second choice.
Sanders isn't just popular - he's gaining huge ground. He went from being a fringe independent candidate to a Democratic front runner in less than 4 years, and he's done it entirely on grassroots contributions.
The Stakes Are High
There is a generation of voters who are all but screaming who they want nominated. If the DNC fails to listen and ascribe equal value to that generation of voters, they're going to be sending a strong message that will last a lifetime among my peers:
Your opinion doesn't matter to the Democratic party.
If you want to see truly abysmal voter turnout, send that message. This is the first election cycle where every millennial will be of voting age, and it will be only the second presidential election for many of them. This is a real turning point for a new generation of politically inclined voters - many of them are interested in being politically active and inclined. When they've been screaming for 3 years who they want to nominate, the Democrats need to listen.
Watch as Biden gets nominated and the early to late 20's bloc all but leaves the conversation.
I've seen this pattern starting already.
The DNC shuns Bernie -> They push Biden against all odds and polls -> The younger vote doesn't turn out because why would they? -> We get blamed for "losing" the election. -> 4 more years of gutting vital offices and record amounts of unfilled positions, an administration that the world has left behind in progression, and a recession dumped in our laps for the second time in our lives.
Bernie is the only candidate that makes sense.
I've heard a lot of arguments against Bernie, and none of them seem to really be rooted in fact or reality.
I'll start with the point that has the most discussion around it and probably the most merit to it.
- "He's too extreme." - No, he's not. By any other standard in the world, Bernie is a moderate left candidate. The Overton window in America has simply shifted so far right that anything left of Nixon is essentially a communist dictator in the eyes of many.
2. "Biden is more popular." - Not really. His polling numbers are consistently similar to Sanders, and if the Democratic party pushed Sanders as their preferred candidate, I can all but guarantee the Biden voters would be swayed.
People are not loyal to Biden; there are no lifelong Biden fans. His presidential run wasn't even a thing a little over a year ago.
What started as a joke about Obama running as Biden's Vice President became a gross reality without the punchline: A Biden nomination had all the familiarity of 2016 with the same sour end in sight.
3. "Sanders is too old" - Biden isn't any younger, Trump isn't any younger, and Hillary wasn't any younger. This is a non-issue and it's honestly getting old hearing it.
4. "Sanders doesn't have the name recognition" - This one is funny to me because people will insist he doesn't have the recognition but he still polls equally as well as Biden, in some states even beating him. Clearly his brand isn't lacking.
It will be easier to convince older moderate Democrats to vote for Sanders than it will be to convince the youngest voters to vote for Biden. Just look at his campaign slogan - "No more malarkey". I legitimately couldn't create a more out-of-touch slogan to reach the youth vote more than that. It's almost impressive.
Update: Bernie has surged to the top of the polls in California and is gaining grounds in other key states. The Iowa caucuses are weeks away. It's going to start getting interesting now.