Students Feeling The Bern

By: Ravenne Reid

Her mind and mouth work in sync as she formulates her next argument. The posters and stickers plastered along her bedroom walls emphasize the rhetoric that Bernie Sanders has her support no matter what. Although she prides herself on good judgment, her biggest challengers are convinced otherwise. She calls them Mom and Dad.

“My parents and I have disagreements about this every day. They’re voting for Hillary,” said Rachel Spence, a junior at John Jay, as she rolled her eyes. “I would have, but Bernie represents everything that I’m passionate about- civil rights, equal pay, and things like that. So, he definitely has my vote.”

This student is one of many who have been feeling the Bern. With his stance on key issues like free college education, healthcare reform, and corporate regulation, he has won the majority of support from millennials.

In the New York primary, which took place on April 19th, an exit poll by the New York Times showed that Bernie won 65% of the vote in people under the age of 30. That was the only age demographic where he received more than half the vote. Whereas Hillary’s strongest lead was 73% in people 65 and older.

Clinton, who served as a former First Lady, Secretary of State, and Senator of New York for eight years, was thought to be the sure winner of the Democratic nomination. However, Sanders, who was born in New York and went on to become the Senator of Vermont, has been giving her a run for her money. However, lately, his chances of becoming the nominee are debatable.

One of the few critiques of Bernie’s policies is his tendency to overpromise. Instead of being praised for their optimism, Sanders fans have been criticized for wanting “free stuff.” According to Eugene Glukh, a 19 year old political activist and student at University of North Carolina at Greensboro, this is a common misconception of Bernie enthusiasts.

Glukh, who created the blog Ugene’s Politics and A Teen 4 Bernie on Twitter, has a combination of over 10,000 followers. Despite his age, he represents a majority of young voters who share the same views on the Senator.

“People like to come down on Bernie because he wants to make college education and healthcare a right, instead of a privilege,” he said. “It wasn’t that long ago when public education was made available universally, so it will happen with college as well. Especially with Bernie’s economic plans to impose tax on Wall Street, which affects the income of the working middle class every day. He’s helping the bottom by starting from the top. Unlike Hillary, he knows what has to be done to give the American people hope again.”

Both candidates have the qualifications, experience, and knowledge that are required of, arguably, the toughest job in America. However, when approximately fifty John Jay students are asked who the most viable contender is, there is an overwhelming response for Sanders.

“There are things that Bernie wants to do that will alleviate the stress and poverty that is on the shrinking middle and lower class,” said Shayne Courtemanche, a senior. “The one percent is made up of millionaires and billionaires that find loopholes in the law, so we need to tax them to let the money trickle down to people like us.”

The statement, “people like us,” comes up constantly when young voters discuss the likelihood of Sanders becoming president. With his refusal to take donations from big businesses and plans to take down Wall Street, which was responsible for the 2008 financial crisis, Bernie has been regarded as a once-in-a-lifetime candidate.

“Bernie has been fighting for the same things for years- longer than Hillary even existed in the media,” said Courtemanche. “While he’s supported equal opportunities all his life, Hillary was against the rights of gays and saw black people as an obstacle. I don’t believe that what she’s saying is sincere. It’s all coming from the Super PACs and the people that are paying her to seem appealing again.”

Clinton’s support of the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, which federally defined marriage as a union between opposite-sex couples, has been one of the primary examples in showcasing her tendency to “flip-flop” on issues. As well as the crime bill of 1994, which built more prisons and implemented harsher sentencing. However, despite the fact that Bernie also supported this proposal, Clinton is the only candidate receiving backlash for it.

“Bernie supporters need to stop blaming everything on Hillary,” said Anisah Singh, a freshman. “She apologized for the crime bill and changed her stance on gay marriage. It’s not flip-flopping, it’s called a change of heart. Everyone does that, so why can’t Hillary? She’s more qualified and learned from her mistakes.”

Unlike Singh’s, the reasoning behind other Clinton supporters at John Jay is not an optimistic one. A sophomore, Austin Morales, was apathetic in his response when he said, “Hillary has more delegates.”

According to Associated Press, out of the 2,383 delegates needed to be the nominee, Hillary has acquired 2,165 as of May 1st. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders trails behind with 1,357.

Clinton supporters among the younger crowd are more interested in numbers, where she is in fact leading. As for the older generation, Spence acknowledges another reason as to why the frontrunner has come this far.

“She’s realistic and that’s what my family is trying to drill into me,” she said. “But, when you grow up hearing your parents complain about how high the rent is or how little they’re making at their dead-end job, it encourages you to want better.”

Hope is a common theme found among Sanders supporters, especially now when most students have adopted an “Anyone but Donald Trump” ideology. The business mogul and Republican frontrunner has risen in the polls thanks to a loyal following. However, his views on some aspects like illegal immigrants, Muslims, and women are enough to make Bernie enthusiasts swallow their pride and support Clinton if she becomes the nominee.

“We cannot have Trump in power,” Courtemanche said adamantly. “He’s racist, sexist, xenophobic, and if it comes down to it, I will vote for Hillary if she gets the nomination.”

Like this student, voters may have to make the tough decision of electing a candidate who they consider dishonest or one whose political correctness is virtually non-existent. When this is taken into consideration, Bernie supporters believe that they are justified in their opinions

“Would you rather want a president who’s been on the right side of history for seventy years or seven?” said Spence. “And, since we’re talking about Hillary, I even think seven is an overstatement.”