Millennials "Feel the Bern"

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Shelby Antel, member of #FeelTheBern MSU

Shelby Antel, member of #FeelTheBern MSU

By Danielle Chesney
Entirely East Lansing

Millennial students are creating clubs to show their dedication to Bernie Sanders, such as the #FeelTheBern MSU group at Michigan State University.

While older Democrats may favor Hillary Clinton as their prospective presidential candidate, a poll by NBC News in October 2015 shows that millennials are instead “feeling the Bern” with Bernie Sanders. The poll shows that 54 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 30 would choose to elect Sanders, outweighing Clinton’s 26 percent.

“I think that millennials, because they’re young, are idealistic,” said Republican Merri Cullen, 60. “It’s probably one of the coolest ages to be, because you’ve got your whole life ahead of you and you haven’t been jaded yet. I think that [Sanders has] tapped into that sort of ‘energy’…I think it’s brilliant.”

Clinton leads polls as the democratic candidate with the older generations, according to the same poll by NBC News. The split between generations is a call for change by millennials, said Seattle resident Steve Levy, 58.

“We [older generations] are tainted by our experience. We’re disillusioned by everything. Millennials are more naive, in a positive way,” said Levy, a Democrat. “[They] are sick and tired of ineffective politicians and are looking for a major change, a radical change, which is good.”

A report by The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement shows that in 2014, voter registration between the ages of 18-39 hit its lowest number in 40 years at 46.7 percent. This leads to the question of whether or not the millennial audience is the one to target.

“I think that the young people that are involved in [politics] and doing their part are doing a lot, but then there are other young people who aren’t,” said Mary Dalrymple, a sophomore at Olivet College in Olivet, MI. “The ones who are doing their part are very firm about their beliefs – whatever extreme they fall into, then there are others who don’t do any research or activism in politics.”

The “energy” Cullen said Sanders harnesses could inspire the younger generation to vote, Dalrymple said.

“[Sanders] definitely has done his research on the topics that the younger generations are most likely to be drawn to, whether it be free college tuition or legalizing marijuana.” Dalrymple, 19, said, “He is also working on redistributing the wealth in the country, which is going to be a factor for my generation as we work to pay off our student debt.”

Voter registration must be completed by Feb. 8 in order to vote in the Michigan presidential primaries on March 8.

“If they turn out to vote, I think [millennials] can change the election,” Levy said. “If over 50 percent of the young voters actually voted, I think that whoever they voted for could actually get elected.”

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