Feelin’ the Bern

Illustration by Adriana Macias Photo credit: Adriana Macias

As the 2016 presidential debate begins to heat up and the first round of political debates have concluded, key players for each party are standing out.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are the current front-runners whose campaigns are funded by billionaire, super PACs.

An unlikely candidate has begun to emerge for the Democratic Party, though, and is widely-embraced by millennials.

Bernie Sanders, a self-proclaimed Socialist Democrat, refuses to accept the money of millionaires to contribute to his campaign.

While his media coverage prior to the first Democratic debate had been minimal, Sanders has hit the ground running in his campaign with overwhelming support from America’s youngest voters.

“Socialism,” a term emphasized by Sanders, tends to scare away experienced voters who associate the word with communism more than left-winged democracy.

Millennials are utilizing their resources on social media sites to spread the word about Sanders. Facebook and Twitter news feeds and Tumblr dashboards are crawling with articles and posts supporting Sanders.

Sanders participated in the historic March on Washington with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963, has held office as Vermont’s senator since 2007 and has not yet had much for other candidates to dig up dirt on.

However, despite his impressive resume, it is easy to look at candidates like Clinton and Trump and see that there are notable comparisons in experience with politics and business.

What is it, then, that creates the appeal and cult-like following of young millennials who wholeheartedly support Bernie Sanders?

Sanders is truly becoming the candidate for a generation of millennials. His supporters grew up in a recession their parents helped create. They are pressured to go to college but cannot afford it and are ending up with overwhelming debt to earn a degree so they can get a job that pays above minimum wage.

His stances on relevant issues like creating free college for students and redistributing the wealth in America are appealing for young adults struggling to afford the cost of living.

Not only does he stand for everything that millennials want for their future, he is concrete in his beliefs.

Sanders has been talking about the same race equality and wealth distribution issues that he has believed in for years. His stances don’t seem to change like Clinton’s or Trump’s have.

Clinton may have a lifetime of debating, public speaking and Oval Office experience from her husband, but her email scandals and reliance on big corporations like any other candidate may be her downfall.

However, Sanders is receiving a massive lack of mass media coverage despite the numerous articles written and voices speaking out for him on social media.

Looking at who really controls the media, it is no surprise that Clinton and Trump are receiving the most media coverage. The same billionaires who fund their campaigns are running most major news networks and outlets.

Supporters of Sanders, many of whom are first-time voters for a presidential primary election, are creating hype for him the best way they know how: through social media. It is the outlet that they are able to utilize without contributing billions of dollars.

Perhaps Sanders’ rapidly-growing group of young supporters will be enough to beat Clinton for the primary spot in the Democratic election.

Katelyn Martin can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.