Only 55 percent of Bernie Sanders supporters plan on voting for Hillary Clinton according to a June Bloomberg poll. Although Sanders has been clear about how he intends to vote for Clinton to avoid the equivalent of a blobfish becoming the next leader of the U.S., the DNC and the establishment media are pushing hard to get Sanders to officially end his campaign and convince his young base to support Clinton.
So far Sanders has stood strong against the pressure and plans to use the Democratic National Convention as a platform to spread his ideas of economic and political reform. But it’s not Sanders’ sole responsibility to convince voters to cast their ballots for Clinton. She needs to reach out herself, genuinely reshape her platform, and convince young voters that she plans to do something to reform the same financial industry that paid her untold millions for speeches that we still don’t have the transcripts of.
The biggest misconception about young Sanders voters is that they’re ignorant kids who fall for gimmicks, celebrity endorsements, and strong promises with vague game plans. Contrary to the establishment media’s narrative that Bernie is all talk with no elaborate plan on how to get things done, he’s been extremely specific about his policy ideas and how he intends to accomplish them.
The reality is that those who support the 74-year-old are keenly aware of the injustices and inequalities in our current political system. In fact, many of them cope with those problems on a daily basis with overwhelming debt just to get a college degree, a lack of affordable housing in major cities they need to live in for their careers, and growing fears over climate change.
They notice the country’s crumbling infrastructure while the federal government justifies perpetual war that eats away at the budget. They also see how the deregulation of Wall Street has a direct link to political corruption and money in politics.
Clinton knows she has to reach out to young voters, and her strategy so far has been similar to candidates in past elections. She focuses on social media and agreed to a town hall hosted by YouTube celebrities. But getting asked questions by YouTube’s biggest beauty gurus and entertainers isn’t going to be enough to convince those who struggle with today’s crippling economic pressures.
Sanders fought to get the federal minimum wage up to $15 an hour, or what would be a living wage in major cities. On the other hand, Clinton began the conversation at $12 an hour, and that doesn’t exactly make it seem as though she would be a warrior for the middle class.
Then there’s my favorite topic of college reform. Clinton talks about making higher ed affordable, but her model relies on the same system we currently have in place to assess whether students are worthy of financial assistance. Under Clinton’s plan, parents would have to help pay for tuition, which doesn’t take into account that a family’s income can fluctuate dramatically if individuals are self-employed. It also neglects the fact that sometimes college students don’t have a relationship with their parents. What happens if mom and dad don’t want to contribute?
Clinton also talks about student debt forgiveness quite a bit, but never discusses the consequences that people face once their debt is forgiven. Under her proposal, debt would be forgiven after 20 years. But according to the IRS, nearly any debt you owe that is canceled, forgiven or discharged becomes taxable income to you. You’ll receive a Form 1099-C, “Cancellation of Debt,” from the lender that forgave the debt. Then you have to pay taxes on that so-called income. For example, if someone was able to get $150,000 worth of student loan debt forgiven, he or she would need to pay an estimated $33,000 in taxes if they’re single and with no dependents.
While it’s true that paying only a portion of the debt is better than having to pay for all of it, the plan is still not progressive enough for those who know the country used to provide free tuition at public colleges and universities, which is what Sanders proposed going back to as part of his platform.
It doesn’t really matter whether you care about student loan debt or not. I mean, you should considering it has a broader negative impact on the economy, so does effect your life even if you don’t have any debt. But if you care about Clinton seducing Sanders supporters to avoid Trump winning the presidency, you have to acknowledge that issues like college reform are critical. A recent survey of college graduates by the Student Loan Report found that more than 62% of respondents would star in a short porn if they could get rid of their debt.
More importantly, it’s vital to understand that it was policy that drew voters to Sanders. It wasn’t his social media presence, and it certainly wasn’t his celebrity “cool” factor. Clinton needs to acknowledge that to win over his base. Answering questions posed by YouTube’s finest just isn’t enough, especially when it’s immediately followed by a $2,700 per person fundraiser at Sean Parker’s house.