How Bernie Sanders stole Hillary Clinton’s youth vote

They’re both very old – but he’s retro

13 February 2016

9:00 AM

13 February 2016

9:00 AM

‘Anybody here got any student debt?’ asks Bernie Sanders halfway through his speech at a rally in a small university on Monday. He then starts conducting a fake auction. ‘What are some of the numbers you got? You? 35,000. You? 55,000? Who else? A young lady here… 100,000 dollars. You win! I don’t know what you win, but you win!’ The students all hoot and chant. ‘Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!’ Sanders cracks an avuncular smile, then starts talking again about how rich the rich are.

It’s hard not to like Sanders. It’s hard not to ‘Feel the Bern’, as the mantra goes. He is 74 years old, and angry at the injustice of the world in a lovable old-codger way. The kids like that. The combination of his age and his affability, more than anything else, is the reason he is beating Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic Nomination. It’s why he trounced her in New Hampshire on Tuesday. Clinton, 68, is also old. But people don’t like her. She can’t match Bernie’s retro appeal.

Bernie is a socialist progressive, yes, but he’s old-school. Young people compete to sound Bernier-than-thou. Jamal, a twenty-something half-Libyan from Vermont, takes pride in telling me that he first heard Sanders speak when he was ten years old, at a reggae festival. ‘This guy was talking about legalising weed and stuff,’ he says. ‘And I was like, wow, this guy is something else.’

Sanders’s appeal is enhanced by an -ironic appreciation of his outdatedness. His politics are so unmodern it is funny. He doesn’t do spin, not in the 1990s Clinton-Blair sense, and he would never dream of occupying the -centre ground. He has been raging against the same monsters — Wall Street! The corporations! The military–industrial complex! Big Pharma! — for more than 50 years, and he’s still going. I meet a spotty Trump supporter who tells me how much he likes Sanders. ‘He’s got integrity, which is kinda cool,’ he says.

Does this remind you of Jeremy Corbynism? There are a lot of similarities. Sanders and Corbyn are genuine radicals — far to the left of the established parties they want to lead. Both are seemingly unelectable, yet somehow keep winning. Both excite social media and tap into the great anti-politics trend; the worldwide revulsion at the billionaire class and the political elite. A number of Corbyn campaigners have reportedly crossed the Atlantic to canvass for Sanders — although I couldn’t find any.

Back in September, David Brock (Hillary Clinton’s creepy-looking spin man) tried to tar Sanders by linking him to Corbyn. That misfired. Americans aren’t fussed about Westminster. If anything, associating Sanders with the internationalist left bolstered his appeal as an authentic anti-capitalist. Better that than Hillary, who took $675,000 from Goldman Sachs for three speeches.

At a rally in Nashua, I try to ask -Sanders if he is a friend of Jeremy Corbyn, but his -minders bustle him off. So I ask Jane O’Meara Sanders, his wife, instead. ‘Who?’ she asks. Jeremy Corbyn, I repeat. ‘Oh yes,’ she says, nodding vaguely. ‘He’s a good man. He’s an intelligent man.’ So if Sanders is conspiring with Corbyn to overthrow liberal capitalism, it’s fair to say he hasn’t let his spouse in on the plan.

The comparison between ‘The Bern’ and ‘Jez’ should not be stretched. Unlike Corbyn, Sanders has a sense of humour. He uses sarcasm effectively. Nor is he preoccupied with stopping neocon wars. Sanders seems to think banging on about foreign affairs is a distraction from the cause. He told pro-Palestinian hecklers at a town hall meeting last year to shut up.

Sanders is more a left-wing mirror of -Donald Trump, the other great surprise of this year’s US election, who also triumphed on Tuesday night. Trump and Sanders stress that America is broken. They trash their country’s education system, its infrastructure, its healthcare. Americans love them for doing so. Trump says America is terrible but he can fix it because he is Donald Trump. Bernie says he can fix it by taxing the rich. Both are adored because their followers believe they can’t be bought: Donald because he is too rich; Bernie because he’s too principled.

Sanders and Trump are miles apart on immigration, as you’d expect. Trump says he’ll build walls to keep out Mexicans and ban all Muslims. Bernie says he’ll take executive action to put illegal immigrants on the ‘path to citizenship’. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton bores people by talking endlessly about feminism and gay and minority rights. Bernie touches on those subjects, but his big point is economic injustice. When he does talk about minorities, he sounds uneasy. He talks about ‘the black community and their white allies’ and ‘the gay communities and their straight allies’. In June, when urged to embrace the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign, he snapped: ‘It’s too easy for quote-unquote liberals to be saying, “Well, let’s use this phrase.” We need a massive jobs programme to put black kids to work and white kids to work and Hispanic kids to work.’

The Hillary camp seems to think -Sanders’s lack of overt political correctitude is a weakness to exploit. Bill Clinton caused a row this week by saying that Bernie’s online male fans — the ‘Bernie Bros’ — were -sexist trolls. Madeleine Albright, a former secretary of state speaking for Hillary, suggested to a crowd in New Hampshire that women who supported Bernie were betraying feminism. ‘Remember,’ she said, ‘there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.’

But if the Clintons think wheeling out another elderly power-woman can guilt-trip younger women into backing Hillary, they are mistaken. According to the NBC exit poll on Tuesday, Sanders won 80 per cent of the vote among millennials.

Bernie is thrashing Hillary among under-50s of both sexes, just as Obama did in 2008. It must be terribly painful for Clinton to experience again this youthful movement against her, especially since this time the voters are choosing an older white man instead. But it’s hard to see how, as a former First Lady, who everybody knows has significantly more corporate donors than anybody else, she can do anything to counter the angry mood of the times.

That said, Hillary looks less vulnerable than in 2008. There is a sense even among ardent Bernie fans — Trump fans, too — that it’s all a bit of a joke. Even as they celebrate his New Hampshire triumph, many young Democrats seem to accept that in the end they’ll have to swallow hard and vote for Clinton.

But until then, the trendy buzz is all about Sanders. As one girl outside a bar in Manchester puts it: ‘Right now, I’m totally Feeling the Bern!’

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  • Polar Girl

    Sanders didn’t steal the youth vote from Hillary. He earned it!

    It is the Clintons that stole the Democratic Party from them.

  • davidshort10

    Voters generally realise when people are at heart rather nasty and hateful, hence the anti-Hillary feeling, plus the greed doesn’t help. As it doesn’t really help the Blairs either. The Clinton and Blair couples are so alike.

  • therealguyfaux ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    There is a sense which many people in the States have, that Bernie Sanders was meant to be a foil for Mrs. Clinton, and when it became apparent to him that he was more popular than her amongst enough of the target demographic, he “went rogue” and refused to go along with the put-up-job, which is why he persists in his quixoticism.

    • WTF

      A good theory and you could be right as I’m sure he never thought he’d get as much support as he ended up with.

    • zanzeh

      Too conspiratorial a theory. He didn’t expect that there will be so much thirst for fairness and social and economic change. As with the majority of the political and ruling classes in the US, he wasn’t aware of the popular discontent.

      • therealguyfaux ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

        Not to imply that Bernie himself would have been in on it from the start, but that soon enough he cottoned onto what was happening. (Think: Broderick Crawford, in All The King’s Men.) in any event I do not propose this as the truth of the matter, only that many believe that a certain number of Democrats would have thought it unseemly had Hillary Clinton gone unopposed, perhaps only from the “optics” standpoint, and would have sought to find her most-beatable opponent.

  • gelert

    Slick Willie seems pretty droopy thesae days 😉

  • Tickertapeguy

    Bernie Sanders who is backed by the Communist party and his platform of a across the board flat tax of 95% will not sell. Also the last thing will be a Jew in the White House.

    • retaliate

      His platform has no proposed tax rate anywhere near that.

      Can’t you bash Bernie without lying?

      • Tickertapeguy

        I Googled “Bernie Sanders and his 95% flat tax rate” and this is what I got.

        “During the second Democratic presidential debate on Saturday evening, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said he would not try to raise the top tax rate to 90 percent if elected.

        Moderator John Dickerson asked him exactly how high he would raise the rate, given that Sanders has previously said he would increase it from its current level of 39.6 percent to above 50 percent. “We haven’t come up with an exact number yet,” he responded. “But it will not be as high as the number under Dwight D. Eisenhower, which was 90 percent.”

        You are right it is not 95% and it is not for everyone. But that is what I heard
        Under Obama we have the highest corporate taxes in the world Corporations are fleeing the US and Obama does not care
        If Sanders applies a 90 + Tax on the wealthy who generate jobs the result will be worse. sine the damage done by Obama is now a gaping wound.

      • Tickertapeguy

        It only took a 3 cent tax hike by England to cause the American Revolution. This time with a 90 + tax hike we will have another revolution
        a Secession.

    • Daidragon

      You sound like Joe McCarthy.

      • Tickertapeguy

        Maybe Joe McCarthy sounds like me.
        Senator Bernie Sanders has done
        NOTHING for the US. absolutely nothing. He is a Sycophant and at 72 years old reminds me of the Simpson Cartoon character Mr. Burns who actually did something. This politician and the backing of the Communist party will not sell

        • PQT

          But he is selling. What does that say about what people want?

          • Tickertapeguy

            You are answering to a comment that is a month old
            Yes socialism is liked by many if one goes by this mag and sections of the US. But ask them to explain “socialism” and many cannot. Socialism (generally speaking) leads towards “State ism” and “Totalitarianism’. It never leads to an open market, free society.
            Economic equality under socialism is “equal poverty and misery for everyone except those who rule”. I know my comment is an extreme summary and this actually requires a face to face conversation since the reasons are too complex as to why socialism is popular and my take on it. So I will leave you with what I wrote.

          • Tickertapeguy

            And Bernie Sanders has lost almost every primary except one or 2 states. Clinton is leading the Democratic party and Trump is leading the Republican party.

    • graham churcher

      How about Michael Bloomberg?…

      • Tickertapeguy

        Because Bloomberg is a career politician. I do not trust people who have a long history in US politics. they tend to promise a lot during campaign and then go out of their way to break every promise when they are in power.
        That is another reason why Trump stands out. He is only a business man of great success and never been a politician. BTW I was wrong about Bernie. His tax rate was to be above 50% not 95%

  • seangrainger

    Isn’t it a slight worry that US students are even stupider than UK graduates (OECD)?

    • Lina R

      The elite-educated, entitled, generation Y have been encouraged to see victimhood everywhere. The irony is, their education, background and job potential places them in the top 2-3 per cent in the world when it comes to wealth and opportunities.

      • zanzeh

        Hahaha, I see where your comment about victimhood comes from, and I agree that it is true that the so called generations Y and/or Z have gone insane looking for victims. But to call them entitled is a stretch. The truly entitled generation is the baby-boomers. They lived in the best economic times of human civilizations’ history. They were practically guaranteed jobs upon graduating from high school. Today’s kids only guarantee is that they will be bled dry by corrupt government and unethical businesses… while an older rabidly libertarian generation will blame any failure imaginable on them…

  • Thats_news

    Sanders did not steal the youth vote from Hilary! Hilary threw the youth vote away, saying: “I don’t need these pesky kids! All I need to become presidents are the women in the sisterhood of my own age!” Good plan, Hilary.

  • Bonkim

    US voters will not elect Bernie Sanders as their President.

  • Chris Hobson

    I would vote for Sanders as he will diminish US power globally. We can fill the void.

    • Lina R

      China is filling the void. The country with no human rights or democracy. America is the greatest nation on the planet, to see its demise is a loss to the world.

  • WTF

    Hillary lost the young vote for several reasons but first and foremost because Bernie promised free higher education without saying who pay for it and the ‘entitlement’ generation fell for it. Then she held back refusing to go out on the stumps because of Benghazi and Email servers and by the time she woke up, she had already lost a lot of ground. Add in her double talk for pretending to be for women but enabling Bill over his philandering plus in one breath being a fragile feminine and in the next a strong feminist, no wonder people are saying forget that with all those mixed messages.

    She blew it pure and simple.

    • quotes

      He has repeatedly said, as in the article, that “the rich” will pay for it.

      • WTF

        The only way wealth re-distribution works is if the average Joe ends up paying more and he hasn’t properly costed it out as the slightest hint of him winning (very unlikely) and they’ll be a flight of wealth leaving the country.

        • sidor

          Redistribution is actually quite simple. For that purpose our Lord created taxes. The government has to formulate them properly. Like tax on capital, in whatever form, and a special tax on financial speculations. This would automatically increase salaries and encourage people to work in production sector.

          • WTF

            The principal is simple, getting the scale rates right isn’t. Conservatives tend to let the very small percentage of super rich get richer and richer as in non doms whilst the very poor gain little if any thing from the higher taxes in the middle. The left go for punitive taxation at the top driving out the super rich whilst the middle again pay the most.

            When we have divisive politics like we have right now in America and the UK its those in the middle who end up worse off financially for their efforts and its that same group who are being shafted to pay for crass mass immigration both fiscally and culturally.

          • sidor

            I am afraid you missed the main point. Taxes shouldn’t be flat with respect to the way the income was produced. Very strongly so. It is insane to tax a pop star, a media figure or a golf player in the same way as, say, a genius surgeon making miracle operations saving people’s lives. Particularly punishing taxation should be imposed on stock market speculations to discourage this socially an economically detrimental activity. Also, a significant tax on capital will help to dissolve the 1% crowd.

          • WTF

            “a significant tax on capital will help to dissolve the 1% crowd”

            All very well BUT, at what point does it cut in and at what rates. Are you suggesting that if I have savings of $100,000 saved over 50 years that you wish to steal part of the capital when I only make 1% interest on it.

            Do you want to confiscate $1,000, $10,000 on $100,000 savings, that is the point and for prudent but modest savers, they shouldn’t see their saving stolen as happened in Cyprus.

          • sidor

            You seem to be unable to write the right number of zeros. At least 7-8 of them should reasonably be the threshold value. Not your funny peanuts.

          • WTF

            Well that’s the problem with us mere mortals, we’ve been lied to so many times by politicians about taxes that end up hitting those of us with ‘peanuts’ we no longer trust anyone unless they put the numbers down in print and sign in blood and even then we’re dubious about their honesty. As I said, that Cyprus savings confiscation hit people with peanuts for savings and all savings amounts are relative.

            Bernie Saunders just like Jeremy Corbyn may class $100,000 as quite significant and given half a chance would ‘tax’ (steal) some of it to fund their socialist programs as they wouldn’t get enough money from those with $10 million or more as that’s what happens in reality.

            So how about it, put my money where your mouth is and suggest some figures on what you would class as savings that are reasonable to steal from and also at what steal rates. Anyone can make statements like you and I actually agree to a point but without actual numbers, it means nothing.

          • sidor

            There is no point in discussing politics: it is always lie directed to the crowd of idiots for the benefit the elite. We have to discuss the rational points. Which have nothing to do with individual feelings and the moral issues.

            What I said is absolutely obvious: regular redistribution and elimination of parasites is necessary for the benefit of economy. The specific numbers and the specific ways can be discussed. 100 000 is definitely a ridiculously small figure when we are discussing the elimination of the 1%.

          • WTF

            I’m not against the concept of re-distribution but it has to be done in a sane manner. If tax or confiscation of assets/savings is too draconian we’ll return to those days of pop star exiles which deprived the exchequer of millions and then the ordinary person ends up paying more tax.

            You should look at the laffer curve graph which clear shows from actual cases that when you tax above a certain level, the tax received actually drops from the super rich and who has to make up the short fall, its ordinary people. My figure of $100,000 is definitely small compared to the super rich but in every taxation or benefit structure, its brought into the equation for the simple reason ordinary people get hit first because they can’t hide or move any modest wealth. Confiscating savings as happened in Cyprus does not help the middle classes.

            What I would like to see is strict enforcement of residency laws to stop non Doms getting away with tax avoidance/evasion as well as ensuring multi-national companies being taxed on their actual business in a country and not channeling profits through Junckers Luxembourg. That would be a very easy start to fairness and simple to implement.

          • Dr Strangelove

            Every economic transaction, results in wealth redistribution, that is the whole purpose of trade.

          • sidor

            You are probably unaware of some fundamental properties of the market game. Theoretical and empirically established. The game is unstable: there could be no solution (consistent collective strategy). It necessarily results in monopoly when a single player, of a small group (cartel) control the market and get everything. Did you play Monopoly? Regular external interference with the purpose of redistribution is necessary to sustain the economy.

          • Dr Strangelove

            Why do you think I’m unaware of that point, when it is merely GCSE economics, that has absolutely no bearing one way or the other on my original comment?

          • sidor

            In the context, I understood that you meant redistribution as the one leading to a more flat distribution. I was apparently wrong. In the general sense, your statement is trivially correct.

          • Dr Strangelove

            I understand your original post and broadly agree with its sentiment.

            However it’s important to understand the debate on the states role in redistribution by recognising that there is nothing preordained or given about the economic system which forces the state to redistribute. The rules and conditions in which trade takes place are rules and conditions created by men and women. It is because those laws and conditions are imperfectly created that causes a sub optimal distribution of wealth forcing the State to redistribute. The solution should be to change the laws and conditions under which trade is conducted rather than seek to apply a sticking plaster on the wounds in the form of state redistribution intervention.

          • sidor

            I agree with the last suggestion. This is what Roosevelt did and Obama failed to do: banks should be forbidden, under the threat of criminal prosecution, to use their client’s money for gambling in the stock exchange. Then the scale of financial speculation will be greatly reduced and money will return to the real economy. This simple measure provided an enormous boom in the US economy that continued until the end of 1950s.

          • Dr Strangelove

            In the UK what we referred to as investment banking (the speculators) and retail banking (your regular High Street bank) where until deregulation in the 1980s kept separate by law. We paid the price for our foolish deregulation in 2008, and have poured billions of taxpayer £ into bailing out banks

          • Roger Hudson

            I preferred the old term ‘merchant bank’, as in merchant adventurer, buccaneer, pirate.
            The US made the same mistake when it repealed the Glass-Steagall Act, enacted in 1933 just to stop the excesses of ‘bankers’.

          • sidor

            Repeal of the affiliation restrictions of the Glass–Steagall Act was an important cause of the financial crisis of 2007–08.

      • Grace Ironwood

        …and the middle class will disappear.

  • Dr Strangelove

    President Sanders. Now that will shake things up!!

    • Grace Ironwood

      Sanders will “shake things up” ?

      Hardly. Yesterday’s hippy is today’s establishment.

  • A.Alexander

    – Just like “Jews have stolen land”. Don`t forget.

  • Morris Jasper

    “Democrats … they’ll have to swallow hard and vote for Clinton” crowbarred in, but chucklesome.

  • Harryagain

    Usual socialist ploy.
    Tell people what they want to hear.
    Even if it’s undeliverable.
    Belief in the magic money tree has spread to the USA.

    • zanzeh

      Just as capitalism=/=freedom=/=prosperity
      Life is a complex endeavour, so our economy and society is also complex…

      • Swift John


  • Grace Ironwood

    The education system in the West has been so effective with this generation of students: their ignorance is almost total.

  • Hillary is the lesser evil of the plutocrats to vote for if compared to the republicans. That is all she is. Too bad Elizabeth Warren is not running for presidency.

    FACTS ABOUT BERNIE: Bernie is actually a “Social Democrat” if going by strict definitions. What this means is that he supports policies and an economy that focuses and works for the people first and foremost, not to further enrich the pockets of the mega corporations. He is concerned about workers being properly paid for their work put in (and not taken advantage of because they have no choice and need the job) and kids (especially those who are left behind due to the color of their skin), access to health care even if you are poor and not see people die from a treatable illness because of poverty (something that affects especially the minority and those who STILL faces severe discrimination in this day and age).

    Providing free education to those who are academically capable is an investment on the people (and it will benefit the economy too producing more local people with the skills and qualifications to be employed to do the jobs). Providing basic access to healthcare for all is a basic human rights, and it will also help the economy and workers are more healthy. Putting more money into the pockets of middle to low income families will drive consumption up (rather than having the super wealthy stashing it overseas to avoid paying taxes), and create a healthier society with less frustrated people and reduce crime rates. An economy that is based on compassion and puts humanistic and socialistic concerns as the primary focus, rather than profit at all cost, is what Bernie is proposing. He is not trying to undermine democracy in any way to set up an autocratic government. That is a lie propagated my the corporate owned media that would want to continue to benefit by paying their workers slave wages, and from the deregulation thanks to the Clintons during Bill’s presidency.

    With higher taxes, the already highly profitable companies will make less profits yes, but they will certainly still remain highly profitable and will not close down. Certain carefully balanced penalties can be imposed on big profitable businesses that wishes to sell locally but export jobs, while rewarding companies that produces jobs locally, and/or invests in R&D.

    With a stronger middle class, consumption will increase, and the American market will be even more “valuable” to businesses even if they have to pay higher tax. Wall Street speculations are more like gambling dens (manipulating the economy to their own profit) and do not really produce anything useful, and they deserve to be taxed.

    ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

    How is Bernie gonna get it done?
    Ans: From my huge list of links provided above.  

    Watch till the EPIC end when Bernie explains how he and EVERYONE can GET IT DONE; and how doubters are MISSING THE POINT.

    Even without the cooperation of the corrupt majority corporate run congress, Bernie can still get a lot of things done!

    (On Economic Feasibility of Bernie’s Plan, See Also:)

    Economists Who Bashed Bernie Sanders’ Tax Plan Admit They’re Clueless: “We’re Not Really Experts”

    Hillary Clinton Emails: Secret Negotiations With New York Times, Trade Bill Lobbying Revealed In Latest State Department Release

    New York Times Invents Left-Leaning Economists to Attack Bernie Sanders

    170 Prominent Economists Back Bernie Sanders’ Plan to Rein in Wall Street

    Hillary Clinton says outsourcing jobs is good for America (top 1%)


    (Can Hillary be trusted? Also See:)

    Reich Risked getting fired from Clinton Admin by slamming Corporate Welfare

    Hillary Clinton’s Email About Gay Parents Should Seriously Trouble Her LGBT Supporters

    Bernie Sanders Was For Transgender Rights Before It Was A Thing

    Hillary Paid Herself $250000 From Campaign Funds

    Her shock when he says he supports Bernie Sanders (the “socialist”, rather than Hillary, on Fox News) is priceless!

    Why I Switched My Support From Hillary Clinton to Bernie Sanders

    Hillary Calls for Michigan Gov’s Resignation an Hour After Her Spox Slammed Bernie for Same (This pretty much sums up her dis-ingenious campaign)