Believe it or not, I’m not going to attempt to prove that Sanders is the best candidate, nor that you should vote for him. To the contrary, I’m about to tell you why I don’t think it matters.
If I’m going to support something enough to publicly defend it, I like to do as much research on the subject as time allows. To me, very few things look worse than mouthing off about a topic on which you are woefully uninformed. That doesn’t mean I’ve never done it, but I really try my best to stay out of that particular situation.
For this reason, any time someone posts a “hater” piece about the candidate or I support (or any political position I align with), I read it. I think there are valid criticisms of every candidate, even the one I support, and I want to be fully aware of them.
In the case of Bernie Sanders, criticism seems to come down to one of three assertions, usually depending upon which party is doing the criticizing:
- The plan as it is laid out is not financially viable (typically heard from Democrats)
- I shouldn’t have to pay more than my neighbor for the same services just because I earn more money (Republicans)
- If government control is increased, corruption is guaranteed, efficiency is reduced, and innovation is stifled (Libertarians, Tea Party, and some Republicans)
I understand the core of each of these concerns. And in a way, I think each of them are completely valid, and should be fully vetted in the election process before we cast our votes. This does not mean that I believe these concerns to be correct, but my personal belief shouldn’t stop me from seeking as much information as possible before making my final decision. And since these are the most widely held opinions of those who differ from me, they deserve investigation.
But all of these criticisms are missing one important thing about this election. They are ignoring what the data telling us about the future of our country.
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve gotten from the business world is that when you’re struggling to understand something, or having trouble accurately predicting an outcome, the first question you should ask is “what assumptions am I making?” Once you identify these, the potential error in your logic often becomes clear, as you realize that there are alternatives to the assumptions that you’ve been treating as fact. I believe that there is a common assumption made by all of these arguments:
Americans want things to be the same as they always have.
I’m not talking about common difference between liberals and conservatives where one group thinks we should make new laws about gay marriage or guns and one group thinks it should stay the same as it always has.
I’m talking about wholesale change to the model.
Our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents, depending on how old you are, are often credited with preserving the American way of life. (Side note, if you want a good look into what could have happened, check out The Man in the High Castle on Amazon) I tend to think this is true. They fought for the way they wanted the world to be, and won. Because of this, their vision of how things should be is often touted as THE American way. You don’t have to look any farther than the current Republican primaries to here the chants to “Make America Great Again.” And while I think there’s validity in that perspective, a lot of other generations have contributed equally to shaping our society, just in different ways. My parents’ generation taught us to question authority, think for ourselves and value peace on a level not seen before in our country. Millennials have completely re-shaped how we think about working environments and the treatment of employees in general. And there are many more.
When young people get heavily involved in politics, it’s rarely because they want to keep things the same. It’s usually because they feel they’ve identified a flaw in the system and they believe they can fix it, and make the world a better place. A better place for whom exactly depends on your personal background, upbringing, and life experience in general. How many college protests have you seen calling for things to remain static?
When you realize that young voters are trying to shape the world in the image of their idealism, just as every generation before them has, the polls and early election results become extremely telling.
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably following the election closely enough to know that in the New Hampshire primary, 83% of voters ages 18-29, and 66% ages 30-44 voted for Bernie Sanders. In Iowa it was 84% and 58% respectively. In Nevada 82% and 62%. In social media debate polls, Sanders is always a landslide winner, despite the networks typically handing a knockout to Hillary.
That’s an overwhelmingly high split, and it tells me one thing. The people who have to live in this country for the longest amount of time want wholesale change to the infrastructure of our medical system, financial system, and government. Their vision of the country is entirely different than anything our country has ever been. They see through the lies of our elected officials, they see through the bias of the media, and they understand that there is a different way of doing things that can, and will work.
These are not stupid people. Millennials, who get such a bad rap from older generations, have faster access to more information than anyone in history, and they know how to use those tools more efficiently than older generations. These are people who understand a few key facts:
- None of Sanders ideas will get through a Republican Congress
- Some of his plans need tweaking before they’d be viable
- There are potential downsides if not executed correctly
Mark Cuban recently blogged about the reason Millennials feel the Bern, and I think he hit the nail on the head. You can read his opinion here, and I’d encourage you to do so. In a nutshell, Cuban asserts that Millennials and younger generations in general believe in what he calls “Socio-Capitalism,” which essentially means they believe that part of being a successful business is having a social conscience. I won’t go into detail on this because I think Cuban does a great job, but the general theme here is that young people are gravitating away from the idea that “every man for himself and may the strongest survive” is a better life than “a rising tide raises all ships.” They believe in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:
They also believe that many Americans aren’t getting even the first or second needs met, and therefore cannot begin to think about things that would “pick themselves up by their bootstraps” so to speak. They believe that the best way for society to thrive is to help as many members of society become as productive as possible, even if that means sacrificing a little along the way.
These are not ideologies that go away depending on whether someone wins or loses an election. And that’s what people are missing.
Bernie may not be able to overcome the 500 Super Delegate votes Hillary locked up (because nothing says democracy by handing someone 20% of the votes they need without actually consulting the American voters). And if he does, it’s entirely possible that Trump or Rubio could beat him. Rubio has the potential to appeal to the middle and Trump has the smartest strategy I’ve ever seen, and I believe that once he runs away with the nomination he will drop his grandiose headline catchers and gravitate towards the middle, which is where he has been for the last 50 years.
If that happens, I predict that it will be the last Republican Presidency for 20 years.
Young voters only increase, and there are 4 trends that are impossible to ignore:
- 49% of Millennials identify as Democrat or leaning Democrat, as opposed to only 33% Republican
- Democratic voters under 45 overwhelmingly support a form of Democratic Socialism and a cleanup of government corruption
- Every ethnic Demographic skews more than 60% Democrat except one… whites are 49% Republican and 40% Democrat
- White religious people skew Republican more than any sub demographic, and atheism has roughly doubled in the past 20 years, meaning that we are literally watching the base of the party atrophy year by year
So even if Bernie loses, his vision of the future is much more likely than any other, simply because the people who will be in charge of shaping our country want it that way.
And if this news makes your heart sink, then I would remind you that every other time in our history that we’ve had to make a large scale change, we’ve figured out how to make it work. Our country started that way, we had to re-structure our agriculture economy when we decided that not paying people was wrong, we’ve stopped everything and become a war machine, and we’ve adapted to the new world of instant information.
So while the critics may make some valid points, they are forgetting that if Americans want to change everything, they can, they will, and they will come out on top when it’s over. The most popular business model in the country today can be found in the tech boom of Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, and it’s based on the idea that if there’s something that nobody thought could be done, something that nobody could do before, then the quickest path to success is to prove everyone wrong by doing it yourself and enjoying massive prosperity in the process. We’ve been born, bread, and brainwashed to believe this about ourselves, and we’ve proven it to be true over and over again, generation after generation. We know that we can do anything if we put our mind to it, because we are the greatest nation in the known universe. We piss excellence.
Sorry, started channeling Trump there for a minute.
If we were smart, we’d stop focusing on how to stop the movement and start focusing on how to make it work. We might have H2O powered interstellar spaceships in a decade if we did. Or we can keep shouting about how it will never work. But it looks like tomorrow’s generation is shouting something else.
Younger voters also know that there are software solutions that could eliminate much of the wasted efficiency of government. What does the IRS do today that couldn’t be managed with software? Nothing that I can think of. My experience has been that older generations don’t truly believe in what software automation can do, but younger generations are the ones making it happen. So the fear that many conservatives have about the corruption and increased cost of anything government puts their hands on doesn’t exist with nearly the same magnitude in Bernie Sanders supporters.
It doesn’t matter of Sanders loses the primary, the general election, or wins but is essentially neutralized by Congress, because the movement isn’t going to stop on inauguration day 2017. State representatives are going to get flipped. The entire structure of government might change. This isn’t a media frenzy during an election year, it’s a movement. Sanders gets that, and it’s why he calls it a revolution. Because it is. Even if it gets off to a slower start than his supporters would like. The data says it’s not going away.