As Maclyn Crnkovich reports Bernie Sanders to many comes across as America’s favorite grandpa. Does he also still have a national political future? Based on a recent campaign rally for Democrats on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno, it seems he does. Photos by Julie Johnson.
It seems Bernie Sanders has stolen the hearts from thousands upon thousands of millennials since his presidential campaign in 2016.
Even though he didn’t even win the nomination for the Democratic party in last presidential election cycles, Senator Bernie Sanders is still considered a very important politician for university students, such as here in Reno.
How did one 77- year-old white senator from Vermont earn so much respect and love from the younger generation?
Patricia De La Hoya was one of his supporters who came to hear him speak and encourage him at the University of Nevada, Reno.
“There are tons of people out here to support and make Nevada blue this year,” she said. “I got to shake his hand twice and he actually touched the side of my face and said ‘thank you for your support’ and it was literally so surreal. I can’t believe that just happened and I’m in awe.”
During his speech Sanders confronted Trump supporters. “Really? Do you really want five trillion dollars in tax breaks to the 1%? Is that what you want?” he asked the students who held Trump signs in the parking garage.
Policies Attractive to Millennials?
One of the most attractive policies for some millennials that Senator Sanders has proposed is making college free and accessible for everyone.
“Education should be a right, not a privilege. We need a revolution in the way that the United States funds higher education,” he has said.
While some think that this is a very far-fetched policy, even among the Democratic Party, there are many other countries around the world that already offer free university education, such as Germany and Norway.
Along with college tuition rates on the rise, students are also worried about their student debt rising at an alarming rate. According to Sanders’s website, the US government is anticipated to make $110 billion on student loan programs.
Skylar Tomchek, a student at the University of Nevada, Reno, agrees that free college for everyone would be difficult to obtain, but said even discounted tuition would be helpful to many aspiring students.
A campus chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America were among his supporters. #NevadaVote profiled them previously: https://medium.com/rsjvote/young-democratic-socialists-of-nevada-motivated-by-recent-distress-in-reno-eee7cf3b75ce
A Range of Other Issue Positions Attractive to Some Millennials
Sanders has also attracted support from young voters over issues surrounding clean energy and protecting the environment.
The generation of millennials and post-millennials are usually defined as people born since 1981. For most of their lives the US has always been at war.
Sanders states that the test of a great and powerful nation is not how many wars it can engage in, but how it can resolve international conflicts peacefully.
This diplomatic approach also appeals to many student and young voters, as do the Senator’s progressive stances on the LGBTQ+ community, minorities, income inequality, and curbing corrupt businesses and lobbyists.
Sanders was there to support Nevada Democratic Senate candidate Jacky Rosen, but it seemed he stole the spotlight.
A Large Voting Bloc of Young Voters
Sanders has also tied military spending to making college education more accessible. “Do we substantially increase military spending and prepare for endless war in the Middle East, or do we make college affordable for all Americans, regardless of income?” he has asked during his speeches.
Millennials now make up the largest voting demographic in US history, and many, at least those on the UNR campus, seem to hope Sanders will run again for the 2020 presidential election cycle.
From his social media movement #FeeltheBern back in the presidential election of 2016 to now supporting other Democrats such as Jacky Rosen, students say Bernie Sanders is still relevant in US politics. How much remains to be seen.
Reporting by Maclyn Crnkovich and Photos by Julie Johnson shared with the Reynolds Sandbox