The younger generations of adults and students were a predominant appearance in the public that attended the recent rally of Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders at the Boston Common. This is different from the other candidate’s rallies where the percentage of young adults and students is not as significant as it is in the Sanders rallies. This is important when you consider that most of the voter turnout and the people who get involved in the political process are the older generations of Americans.
The result is that not all of the people’s interests are represented, leaving a large part of the population in the shadows. Democracy itself was established for all the people in a country could have a say on how their country should be. Bernie’s appeal to younger generations helps fight this issue of democratic erosion or backsliding in America that does not let the county have an inclusive environment.
For Sanders, the age of voter turnout is not the only issue for democratic backsliding. For him, to fight how “President Trump is undermining democracy”, the American people must unite in a multi-generation and multi-racial movement. This way all people are represented and not just some percentage of the population. Sanders exposed how President Trump is using the corrupt political system by having a political agenda that benefits a fraction of the total population. He argues that President Trump looks out for the rich and less for the working class of the country by imposing tax breaks that benefit the rich more than anyone, creating more wealth inequality in America. One must note that the working class of the country is the larger portion of the population and deprioritizing their problems and request for a better quality of life, is going to have a big negative effect on the quality of democracy.
Nevertheless, Bernie Sanders knows that the key for this change to happen and for a more democratic country, America must, “Bring young people to the political process”, as he said in the rally himself. He also clarifies that not just young people is what is going to save democracy in America, but young people of all ethnic groups will. Bernie’s appeal to younger generations, even if he does not win, is changing political culture in America. Since he first rose to the stage as a large political figure that encouraged young voter turnout and involvement in politics, younger generations have appeared to be more engaged in politics. For instance, in 2014 voter turnout in the Midterm Elections for people between the ages of 18 to 29, a time where Sanders was not recognized as today, was only 19.9 percent. In the Midterm Elections of 2018, a time where he was one of the largest political figures in the country, the voter turnout for the same group of people was 35.6 percent. Though this dramatic increase in voter turnout cannot be only attributed to Sanders, his effort for youth to be involved in politics had a clear impact on political culture for young people. On the other hand, voter turnout for people over 65 was 59.4 and 66.1 respectively and this is a group that contributes only 16 percent of the total American population. This shows us that the country’s future is being shaped by a small portion of the population instead of being shaped inclusively with people of all ages from all of the different ethnic groups, which is not what real democracy should be like.
One of the major reasons that Bernie Sanders appeals to the country’s youth is the fact that he wants higher education (College) to be an economical right and not a privilege. This idea does not only help the country to have a larger skilled workforce but, it is also a big-time player in the fight against democratic erosion. According to the 2018 Midterm Elections census, the voter turnout for anyone with less than a bachelor’s degree does not go higher than 42 %, where people with less than a high school diploma have a turnout of 27.2 %. Statistics show that having a college education, like Sanders wants for everyone, has a strong influence on the person voting or not. People with a college degree and advance degree, both have a voter turnout of more than half of its population, 65.7 %, and 74 % respectively. This demonstrates how education can help greatly the quality of the American democracy, as more people will go out to vote according to what they believed in, instead of letting other people vote for what their country is going to be like.
The major critics to Sanders and his ideas that appeal to the youth and working class are the viability for those ideas to happen. Opponents claim that Sanders uses his claims of free college and health care, as well as raising the minimum wage to 15 dollars per hour to get the vote of that demographic group, arguing that his ideas are not achievable or at least not all of them. Critics ask where is he going to get the money to finance both free college and healthcare. His claim to increase the minimum wage from 7.25 dollars an hour to 15 an hour concerns many economists and business owners who are scared of the consequences of increasing the wage more than 100 percent. The consequences in question are what are going to be the effects of bigger production costs across the county, whether increased unemployment or a rise in inflation? Candidate Sanders is yet to make it completely clear how he is going to execute his plan of all those ideas. Nonetheless, his campaign has inspired the youth to be more involved in politics, making it for a more democratic America.
U.S. Census Bureau. “Behind the 2018 U.S. Midterm Election Turnout.” The United States Census Bureau, 16 July 2019, www.census.gov/library/stories/2019/04/behind-2018-united-states-midterm-election-turnout.html.
“U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: United States.” Census Bureau QuickFacts, www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045218.