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Why Are Young Voters Turning To Old Socialists And Their Ideas?

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Senator Bernie Sanders

From Texas Standard:

There are a lot of labels in the world of politics. There are Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives and even libertarians. But socialists is another thing altogether. Socialists are pretty close to communists, as some see it. 

For years, the socialist label has been something of a taboo, not just in Texas but in many parts of the country. Today though, many younger voters are leaning hard left, and they’re looking to old-school socialists for leadership and inspiration.


Sarah Leonard, features editor for The Nation, explores this very topic in a recent opinion piece in the New York Times.

“What is interesting to me is that you have all of these young people who are about my age, or younger even, who are really supportive of these politicians who are much, much older than they are,” Leonard says. The 29-year-old editor describes herself as “a bonafide millennial.”

“People like Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn have been on the far left end of politics in their countries since before we were born,” she says. “It seemed like there was a little incongruity there.”

Younger voters are leaning toward socialist ideas, Leonard says, in part because of the landscape they were born into. Growing up with a different set of expectations than their parents in a world mired in recession has impacted millennials' ideas of politics and policies.

“For young people right now, certainly for millennials, folks are in shape to be worse off than their parents. They have a lot of college debt… And if they didn’t go to college, they are far more likely to be unemployed. And so we kind of feel like Wall Street may be the enemy,” she says.

Despite increased interest in socialist ideas, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders simply couldn't muster the support from the establishment.

Leonard says Sanders, however, did far better than expected and changed the landscape of what’s acceptable politically.

“There’s a lot of stuff like debt relief, free college [and] good universal healthcare that I think seem like common sense to this generation that came up with all of those things being really unstable,” Leonard says. “No one is really afraid of socialism in this generation. They’ve experienced real fear in capitalism.”


Written by Taylor Jackson Buchanan.

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