Democrat presidential candidate Sanders gaining popularity with young voters

Jonathan McCollough | Staff Writer

“Feel the Bern for he takes what you earn.”

That’s the common rhetoric among conservatives and opposition to Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, a self-proclaimed Democratic socialist who is running for president. Americans have always been wary of socialism, especially those who were around during the Cold War, but senior Ben Allen says the ideas behind modern socialism are not something to be scared of.

“The idea should be to redistribute wealth more equally so that people have an equal opportunity in society to succeed,” Allen said. “Implementation in America is that we pool money as a public and give it to the government as an institution to work on projects that are better for the entire whole of the people such as public schools, road systems, things like that.”

Despite Sander’s identification as a socialist, he has seen rising support and is gaining in the polls, especially among millennials. According to Allen, this can be contributed to a potentially justified sense of entitlement.

“A lot of younger people like the idea of things being handed to them because they feel like they haven’t been given a fair opportunity,” Allen said. “It is true in a lot of ways that they have to face problems that older people didn’t have to face like, the real cost of education has gone up tremendously from what it used to be way out of pace with inflation.”

Some of the main ideas presented by Bernie Sanders and the left include universal healthcare, free public universities and increased minimum wage. Although these ideas may sound nice to some, economics teacher Steve Prescott said that they may have unintended consequences.

“I understand the idea of using government to achieve the people’s best interests and I think it makes sense when it comes to some things like parks, defense, and without a changed health care system potentially health care,” Prescott said. “But there are many ways that government is too big and I don’t think going cold turkey is the answer. I understand why his revolutionary attitude is accepted by young people but I also think that radical change can wreck the stability that we have in the United States.”

American exceptionalism is the theory that America is inherently different to all other countries due to our democratic ideals. Senior Cole Branham said that implementing socialistic ideas would go against the ideals behind American exceptionalism and could be shortsighted because the long term impacts would not be worth the possible short term gains.

“Socialism may sound like it’s going to solve a lot of problems especially for younger folks,” Branham said. “But for the overall majority what socialism does is it takes incentives out of the equation and without incentives we’re less productive and less efficient.”

The viability of socialistic policies have been widely disputed and many people doubt that they could be effectively put into place. According to a Gallup Poll, more than 50 percent of Americans say that they wouldn’t vote for a socialist. Government teacher Maria Mueller said that for socialism to work, a majority of Americans would have to support it.

“There needs to be a larger consensus around it,” Mueller said. “I do think (socialism being implemented is) possible because I don’t think it’s as radical as people think it is. We spent a long time in our history trying to create this great divide between communism and our system and, because we’re oftentimes associating socialism with communism, we think there’s this huge divide because we’ve always wanted there to be one. I think that if we pause it’s not the huge jump that people think it would be.”