It’s official — Shaker Heights High School students are feeling the Bern, along with liberal teenagers and young adults across the United States.
Even though he didn’t win Ohio, Bernie Sanders has dominated the youth vote in the early primaries and caucuses. Sanders commanded 84 percent of young caucus-goers under the age of 24 in Iowa, according to a Quinnipiac-conducted poll, to no surprise because of his promises of free public college tuition.
Sanders has won seven of the last eight states and 15 states overall , including New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Vermont, Minnesota, Nebraska, Michigan, Maine, Kansas, Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Hawaii and Wisconsin. Sanders has also closed Clinton’s large delegate lead and now only trails her by 252 pledged delegates.
Shaker students have demonstrated interest in Sanders’ self-proclaimed democratic socialist, anti-establishment campaign over Twitter and other forms of media. Eighty-one percent of the population of Shaker Heights voted for Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election, and Business Insider ranked Shaker Heights the most liberal city in Ohio in 2014. Thus, to many, Shaker’s infatuation with Bernie Sanders is unsurprising.
“I think Bernie is popular among young voters because this generation is a lot more progressive. We’re breaking from tradition in our beliefs and ideologies, and Bernie is doing the same with his politics,” senior Amani Hill said.
Sophomore Anna Sternberg feels connected to Sanders. “Bernie addresses issues in his campaign that are aimed towards young America,” she said. “Democratic youth that can vote in this country are drawn to the issues he supports, because he is purposely relating to them.”
Senior John Albayrak hopes to support a genuine candidate. “I want a progressive. We’ve had the same stuff for as long as I can remember,” said Albayrak. “Hillary Clinton is just an empty suit and a political puppet, and I feel like we need someone genuine such as Sanders.”
Albayrak also noted some areas of concern regarding Sanders. “We don’t know his official stance on foreign policy,” he said. “So that is a little bit hazy.”
Senior Jean Feng, also a Sanders supporter, described Sanders’ policies with which she agreed. “He wants to raise taxes on Wall Street. Just a tiny tax increase would make a huge difference in the role of money in politics,” she said.
Sophomore Sophie Browner described Sanders’ appeal. “I agree with Bernie Sanders and his initiatives, however, I believe that due to the largely [Republican-controlled] Congress, a lot of his initiatives wouldn’t get passed,” she said. “I think he is a lot more energetic than Hillary — he gets the crowd excited and seems very genuine about everything he says.”
Senior Eva Holtkamp prefers the Democratic candidates of the upcoming election and she is supporting Sanders, but she believes that both candidates are very similar.
“What it came down to for me was authenticity, ambition and consistency. Bernie has plans that are already implemented in nearly every other economically developed country, and his pragmatic attitude is what I feel America needs. He has an incredible track record, and I really admire that about him as a leader,” Holtkamp said.
Holtkamp explained that she feels Clinton may lack support because young voters see her as distant from their struggles, while simultaneously taking interest in Sanders’ policies. “I feel as though a lot of young voters see through Hillary’s ‘hip’ façade,” she said. “But beyond this, Bernie has many plans, such as free tuition at public colleges paid for by a speculation tax on Wall Street, that appeal to young voters because he is understanding of their personal struggles.”
Holtkamp also believes that there are potential downsides to a Sanders administration, especially in foreign policy. “I definitely think that he has less experience with foreign policy than Hillary, because of her time as secretary of state. The only other major downside I see [are] the difficulties he may have passing legislation through Congress,” she said.
Senior Paige Anderson offered a similar view of Sanders administration. “I’m not sure if he could get all of his plans through Congress,” she said. “But he would at least try to make an effort to and would probably expose the corruption in [the U.S.] political system, as he already has.”
Sanders has exposed the corruption of the election race, and the billionaires funding and practically owning the political parties, according to Politics USA.
Holtkamp believes that Sanders’ proposal of free college tuition is reasonable.
“Being a senior in high school, I have come to understand that college is truly priced as a luxury when, in many cases it is viewed as a necessity,” she said. “Bernie’s plan to make college more accessible is something that most other economically developed nations implement in one way or another, and we must begin to follow in their footsteps.”
However, Anderson also said that Sanders is a more compelling. She said, “He seems like a genuine candidate, and he has had consistent views throughout his career as a politician, compared to Clinton.”