On Thursday, Senator Bernie Sanders became the first man, the oldest person, and the only self-professed socialist to run for the 2016 Democratic nomination. Though few political analysts expect him to pose much of a challenge to the Hillary Clinton machine, some have expressed hope that his presence will force her to get in touch with her liberal side.
Sanders held a press conference in front of the Capitol, claiming that he was well aware that he was a long shot. But, he said, he wasn’t joining this race out of a symbolic desire to make his voice heard. “We’re in this race to win,” he said.
At 73, Sanders has managed to somehow become the oldest Democrat running for president this year. More troublingly, he describes himself as a “democratic socialist” who has some extraordinarily liberal views on where the country should be headed. The media has made it sound as though his limited financial resources will make it hard for him to post a serious threat to Clinton, but what about his ideas? Why would someone who describes himself as a socialist have any chance – even a miniscule one – of becoming president? His ideas – not his age or his fundraising – should be what disqualify him from serious contention.
Sanders is a committed climate ideologue who wants to throw every regulation and measure at his disposal at manufacturers in order to stop greenhouse gas emissions. He is a proponent of single-payer universal healthcare. He thinks the problem with the federal government is that it isn’t spending enough money, and he thinks it would be “reasonable” to hike the national minimum wage to $15 an hour.
These policies and ideas don’t make Sanders a bad person, but they make him a very bad candidate for president. He has managed, however, to become a very popular figure on left-leaning social media sites like Reddit with his bold vision of a changed America. Millenials like the sound of these bold proposals, or at least they like the sound of making drastic changes. Whether this is because there is no one out there making a good case for conservatism or whether young people are simply drawn to revolution is unclear.
What is clear is that people cry out for change when they are unhappy. Unable to find satisfaction in their own lives, they look for things to blame. If the government is messed up and the police are racist and the One Percent has all the money, how can you possibly succeed? So instead of focusing on what they have the power to do in their own lives, they try to change a system that has worked for more than 200 years. If they can just change everything about America, then they can finally be happy.
We have, as a country (and perhaps as a species), done away with the concept of personal responsibility. And when that fundamental principal is no longer there, socialism is inevitable. Bernie Sanders may not stand much of a chance in 2016, but the ideas he espouses are coming.