While the Bernie Sanders campaign is well and truly over, one can’t help but get a sense that this is just the beginning of the revolution. Sanders has brought to the forefront many issues that have resonated with the American people.
His firm stances on corruption in the campaign finance system, income & wealth inequality, gender & racial inequality, LGBTIQ discrimination and climate change have caused people across the nation to #feelthebern.
While he will not be the next President of the United States, he has put in motion a grassroots movement which will continue fighting for these principles and values long after he is gone.
How do we know this?
It’s because millennials will be the next generation of politicians and voters. During the primary season, polling showed that millennials voted overwhelmingly in favour for Sanders. This isn’t surprising when you consider that millennials tend to be more socially progressive than other demographics.
In recent polling conducted by the Pew Research Center, 46% of American Baby Boomers were in favour of same-sex marriage. By comparison, 71% of American millennials were in support of same-sex marriage – demonstrating a generational shift in attitudes. Similarly, millennials & young adults (61%) are more likely to attribute climate change to human causes than older Americans (39%).
One part of an extensive study conducted by Harvard IOP asked millennials about their top three concerns. 64% indicated that improving the economy was one of their top three concerns, followed by reducing terrorism (39% indicated this as a top 3 issue), reducing inequality (34%), uniting the country (31%), dealing with immigration (27%) and reducing the role of money in politics (23%).
Looking at all this data, it is clear why millennials flocked to Bernie Sanders – his values, ideals and principles align with those of many millennials. It is not only his language but also his actions and record in fighting for the middle class, working poor, minorities and social justice which saw his meteoric rise to the spotlight.
I argue that his campaign will not only have long-lasting ramifications for the politics of America but also have far-reaching consequences in other nations. At the very least, I can speak of my personal experience of feelin’ the Bern. Prior to the US presidential campaign, I would have considered myself a disenchanted millennial with an apathetic attitude towards politics.
Upon hearing about Bernie Sanders and his movement, I learnt of pressing matters relevant to the US. This, in turn, got me engaged and involved in the political issues in my own country of Australia. The similarities and differences between the political concerns of the US and Australia were eye-openers for me.
The fact that Bernie Sanders and his movement was able to instil in me an appreciation and understanding of the significance of progressive values from the other side of the globe has me hopeful for the future of the progressive movement.