Four months ago, Bernie Sanders was not a member of the Democratic Party. Today, he stands on the heels of his victory in New Hampshire and has cut Hillary Clinton’s national lead to only 7 points from a seemingly insurmountable 35 point lead in the summer. But Sanders still lacks the support of the Democratic establishment; he has yet to connect with minority communities and Clinton trounces him in the 45-and-above demographic. The catalyst of Sanders’ success, like Barack Obama before him, is his popularity among young voters. Sanders’ platform of rigorous economic and health care reform aims to eliminate systemic ineffectiveness and injustice, making him the ideal candidate for millennial voters.
A central theme of Sanders’ campaign is corporate corruption — and rightly so. In 2008, the American economy was destroyed by the collective greed of Wall Street bankers who made billions before breaking the economy. Taxpayers paid billions to bail them out, and shareholders paid nearly $190 million in fines. Eight million Americans lost their jobs, 4 million lost their homes, and for all that, only one banker was jailed. Millions of millennials suffered the repercussions of the financial collapse; they watched their parents struggle and fail to pay bills, and their childhoods were disrupted when they were kicked out of their homes.
Wall Street’s big banks are larger now than before the Great Recession, and Sanders is the only candidate willing to break them up. The GOP, with millions of dollars from Wall Street donations, seeks to deregulate the financial sector, and Clinton, though more progressive than the Republicans, also refuses to break up the big banks, although she claims that she will regulate Wall Street. Major financial reform passed in the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, but since then, according to The Nation, Wall Street has spent a billion dollars lobbying to undo the most vital regulations within the bill.
Sanders’s plan to end too-big-to-fail banks is the responsible choice for the American economy, as too-big-to-fail banks only become more dangerous over time. They use their immense lobbying power to destroy the regulations that keep them in check, ultimately undoing whatever restrictions were put upon them. There is no such thing as a “safe” too-big-to-fail bank, which no other candidate recognizes. Beyond economic reform, Sanders’ health care plan also sets him apart from other candidates.
Sanders, like most Americans, supports a universal health care system, a prime solution for millennials who will soon face the pressures of rising health care costs. This is no pipe dream or promise of a reality-denying socialist; this is a fact seen in numerous countries with far superior health care systems, including England and France. According to Sanders, implementing such a system would save $6 trillion over 10 years compared to the current health care system. Clinton supported such a system in 2008, but changed her tune after receiving over $13 million in donations from the health care industry. Whether this is taken as corruption or a lack of courage, Clinton fails to pursue what the American people both desire and deserve. At best, she is too cautious to break from the status quo, but that status quo — one of ineffectiveness and inefficiency — is exactly what millennials want to leave behind.
Describing Clinton’s stances as merely pragmatic also ignores the close relationship she has developed with both the health care and financial sectors. Beside the millions of dollars she received from the health care sector, she also received millions of dollars in both speaking fees and donations from Wall Street groups. Put simply, Wall Street would not give millions of dollars to a candidate whose policies would damage their profits. Given that Wall Street’s irresponsible behavior led to billions of dollars in profit, reining in the financial sector will necessarily bite into their profits. Entrusting Clinton with reining in Wall Street, then, is foolish.
Clinton represents the Democratic establishment, but it is Sanders whose ideals and proposals are in line with the values of millennial voters. Clinton’s campaign may look revolutionary in comparison to GOP candidates, but Sanders’ dedication to progressive values shows the many areas in which she lacks. His goals are undoubtably lofty, but all great political accomplishments began with great struggle. Apathy toward injustice is tacit approval, and it is unjust to abandon a movement — whether that be health care reform, economic inequality or any other issue — because of its inherent difficulties. Creating a fair economy and an affordable health care system should be no difficulty compared to America’s past challenges, and it is up to Sanders and his millennial backers to move America toward that path of progress.