For many college students, Bernie Sanders is like that old vinyl record getting spin after spin. They listen to him on repeat, saying the same things over and over again because his message is exactly what they want to hear right now.
“Our great country was based on a simple principle, and that principle is fairness,” Sanders said in his victory speech after New Hampshire voted barely two weeks ago. “And yes, we are going to make public colleges and universities free!”
University of South Carolina is one such campus, one that — much like the rest of the nation’s — breeds the Bernie Bros and left-leaning Millennials that lend the old senator his vinyl-record rockstar status. The school’s motto is perfectly reflective of Sanders’s own demeanor: Learning humanizes character and does not permit it to be cruel.
“At a time when every major country on Earth guarantees health care to all of their people, we should be doing the same in our great country,” Bernie has said time and again, in that scratchy and paternal style of elocution that is his alone.
Positioned between the Atlantic Ocean and the Blue Ridge Mountains in Columbia, the university is home to a student government whose president Jonathan Kaufman suggests that Sanders is actually too cool for the nom — that his proposals are so grandiose, they border on the unrealistic.
“Although there is active support on campus for both Bernie and Hillary… mobilizing the college population may not translate to local votes on election day,” Kaufman says. “I think that Bernie has used angry rhetoric to mobilize a young base.”
And it’s this anger that fuels many young voters to the polls — a sense that, in an ever-growing oligarchy, the system is rigged.
Kaufman, a Maryland native, is among many of this election’s undecided voters. That is a group Sanders would need to tap into and generate voter turnout on top of creating landslide victories in delegate-rich states like California.
“Some students are enthusiastic about a surface level plan taxing the wealthy to make college more affordable,” Kaufman says. And like many pragmatists, he wonders if the math truly adds up in such a sweeping policy proposal.
Spike Lee took to airwaves for 60 seconds on Monday promoting the old Jewish senator from Vermont, saying a vote for him is the “Right Thing” to do:
As superdelegates continue to flock toward Hillary Clinton and pad her lead, Super Tuesday looms as the next big barometer for both campaigns. Bernie is expected to admit defeat for the second time in a week at the Palmetto State on Saturday, where Clinton currently polls as the 2-to-1 odds-on favorite.
The Sanders campaign’s inability to break Clinton’s “firewall” is well-documented, although in Nevada he made a break with young Hispanics. Still, African-Americans are voting in favor of Clinton by a 3-to-1 margin, and in the South, where working-class whites saturate its rurality, the seasoned senator is also at a disadvantage.
Clinton, for her part, brushed aside the fact that she’s losing the youth vote in an answer at Tuesday’s CNN town hall debate:
If the youth vote were to turn out in record numbers, though, Bernie would be the odds-on favorite. That he’ll ever persuade them to turn out is another question.
Just ask Mr. Kaufman.
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