Sanders’ appeal should be based on platform, not trends

By Metro Reporter

With the 2016 presidential election heating up, articles about rival Democratic Party candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are flooding Twitter timelines and Facebook newsfeeds. According to an Oct. 29 Huffington Post 2016 National Democratic Primary poll, Clinton was leading the polls with 56.4 percent support, while Sanders stood at 31.1 percent. 

Clinton may be ahead in the polls, but Sanders has experienced a larger surge in social media attention from young voters. With 2,337,429 likes as of Nov. 6, on his U.S. Senator Facebook page, he boasts a larger following than Clinton and Republican candidate Jeb Bush combined.

Sanders’ positions appeal greatly to college-aged students, including proposing free college tuition at public institutions and raising the minimum wage to $15 over the next several years. 

To the average liberal college student, these campaign promises would make America a better nation. However, President Barack Obama also proposed some of these changes during his first campaign.

Like Sanders, Obama is pro-choice, and made that known during his 2008 presidential campaign. Still, the House voted Sept. 18 to defund $500 million from Planned Parenthood, one of the most notable nonprofit organizations researching and giving advice on contraception, family planning and reproductive problems in the nation. The president wants change, but Congress might not, and hopeful young voters might not realize the hurdles a president must overcome to implement his agenda when they see Sanders campaigning for issues that matter to them.

In a 2012 study conducted by The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, only 18–19 percent of youth voted in the 2012 election, which turned out to be the lowest youth turnout rate in a federal election. So why does Sanders have so many young supporters?

Only a small percentage of young people actually vote, but Sanders is trending with millennial voters because he is a hot topic on social media with his play-on-words catchphrases like “Feel the Bern,” and viral videos, such as a parody to “Hotline Bling” that debuted on The Ellen Show. Young people are at the root of technology, where Sanders is thriving because he seems “cool” and is so far left on the political spectrum that many young voters agree with him.

Millennials are vocal in their support for Sanders, but statistics show younger voters are generally less informed. According to a 2012 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, older voters are generally more informed about the election compared to voters under the age of 35. The millions of U.S. voters ages 18–29 have the power to make a change, whether by voting for Sanders or whomever else they choose. However, millennials should make sure their votes are educated rather than based on popularity and the flow of current trends.