The 2016 election cycle has quickly become simple to summarize by using the term “anti-establishment” from both sides of the political spectrum. Regarding the Republicans, many voters have clung to Trump as the savior of America, trusting the longtime businessman to fish the American Dream out of the gutter where they believe it lies.
Across the aisle, a different take on the anti-establishment movement has come to light in the form of Bernie Sanders. Promising a political revolution, the Vermont senator has gained the respect and following of the majority of the youth and middle-class America. From the initial announcements of candidacies early in the summer of 2015, the Hillary Clinton campaign, as well as media outlets, underestimate Sanders. Now that it is clear that people are #FeelingTheBern, Clinton is feeling pressure to put on a clear offense against the Sanders campaign — but is it working?
The New York Times highlighted this past Saturday before the NBC Democratic debate that “Mrs. Clinton and the former President are also unnerved by the possibility that Mr. Sanders will foment a large a wave of first time voters and liberals that will derail her in Iowa…”
It’s obvious that her campaign and loyal supporters are feeling the pressure mount, as the super PAC run by top Clinton loyalist David Brock planned to release an attack ad against Sanders, questioning the candidate’s health. Since those ad threats were released, however, direct aides of the Clinton campaign have called for the Clinton-backing super PAC to calm down the offensive line.
Clinton has been setting her sight on the African American, youth and female vote for a while now, and the responses by the youth and minorities on social media have been telling of how her campaign tactics are being received. On Tumblr, users have mocked Clinton’s attempts to reach out for the youth vote on Twitter. Users like Rob Fee, a writer for Comedy Central, have criticized Clinton’s campaign tactics as opposed to Sanders. As with most social media, these sites are primarily used and monitored by teens and likely first-time voters, as this election sprung at the optimum time to utilize media for campaign trail. The fact is, many users are responding and agreeing with the jabs at Clinton for essentially trying too hard for their vote.
For the young, progressive demographic, this is an era of staying cool, authentic and standing up for others without fail. Clinton going above and beyond to relate will not fly for most social media users. Seeing as the former Secretary of State has plenty of experience and stands for what these young people are demanding, why has the young population moved on so steadfastly to Sanders? Perhaps it is the fact that young people are feeling the anti-establishment fever just as much as the supporters of Trump and Ben Carson on the right. Both of these types of voters do not want a wishy-washy candidate who will tiptoe around Congress. These people are demanding change. Clinton simply riding on the coattails of Obama’s legacy is not going to fly.
The young people of America are speaking, tweeting and blogging about the need for radical change for the betterment of the American people, and they wanted it yesterday. A candidate like Clinton stands idly by, changing her Twitter icon to a Kwanzaa-fied “H for Hillary” icon in effort to gain the black vote and appearing along Miley Cyrus on “Saturday Night Live” to seem relatable to teens and families. Other candidates like Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley are out gaining support on the issues that matter, like the Black Lives Matter movement, climate change, income inequality and healthcare reform.
Where will the Democratic Party ultimately land on a choice of candidate? We will have to see in late July at the Democratic National Convention, but what we as progressive citizens can hope for is a candidate who fights for the issues and not for the bubbled-in votes.