Millennials will carry Bernie Sanders’s ideas into the future When Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) withdrew from the Democratic race for president on Wednesday, he did so with a memorable observation: “The future of this country is with our ideas.”
It’s not simply that Sanders succeeded in pushing issues ranging from Medicare-for-all to student loan forgiveness from the fringes of the left to the center of the Democratic Party — though he did, he did! It’s that he forced these agendas into the mainstream with the solid support of millennial voters, whose political preferences will soon take center stage.
As Sanders himself pointed out, younger voters — in many cases, most voters younger than 40, sometimes even under 50 — supported him by decisive numbers in this year’s primaries. While baby boomer doubters like to point out that they became more conservative with age, the same is unlikely to be true for this younger cohort. Millennials will carry Bernie Sanders’s ideas into the future
A return to normalcy, a promise that “nothing fundamental will change,” as Joe Biden told his donors, doesn’t hold the same appeal for millennials and Generation Z. And that is because of the rather obvious reason that normalcy, even before the election of Donald Trump and the COVID-19 economic cataclysm, was lacking.
Millennials are swamped by student debt, partly the result of a long-term failure by the government to support public higher education. Thanks to the ongoing effects of inequalities in wealth and income, they earn less than boomers and have a lower net worth than Gen Xers did at the same age. They suffered one major economic blow with the Great Recession and now will suffer a second one — according to a survey released Thursday by Data for Progress, more than half of voters under 45 have either lost a job or seen their hours reduced because of the coronavirus pandemic.
And the perils are not simply economic. Climate change has accelerated over the past several years, and it is all but certain millennials will reach retirement age in a much-changed world —one more prone to severe weather events and ecological changes that will make some areas of the world all but unlivable.