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Having access to a left-leaning, reasonably articulate Millennial, I was able to ask, “Why are you guys so crazy about this Bernie Sanders fellow?” The answer basically boils down to two things.
1. Millennials perceive the current system to be corrupt and stacked against them. They have completely bought into the line that too few people control too much wealth and that they are disadvantaged as a result. They like Sanders because he is going after “the wealthy.” This is a particularly potent attraction among those who have accumulated lots of college debt and have no prospects for paying it off. The idea of the government mandating paid paternity leave and a living wage sounds great. How could more money and paid time off not be great?
2. They think the free market has failed, and point to examples like the fellow who bought the patent for the AIDS pill and jacked up the price to $750 per pill. (They have no idea that this was enabled by Government regulation and not the free market, because Reddit didn’t tell them that.) They know Sanders is a Socialist and they don’t care. When they think of Socialism, they think of Sweden, not Venezuela. And when they think of Sweden, they think “free college and IKEA,” not 70 percent tax rates and Muslim rape gangs.
Many Millennials have had little or no exposure to the intellectual case against socialism. To them, conservatives are people who don’t want gay people to get married, and that’s about it. When the GOP talks about “tax cuts,” they see no benefit to themselves. The conservative right largely talks among themselves, and are terrible at explaining the benefits of free market capitalism to those who have been indoctrinated by 12-16 years of education in government schools.
In the pre-Reagan Era, the media was just as left-leaning and reluctant to discuss the poverty and oppression that permeated the Soviet Union. But there were enough people willing to talk about it outside the media for the truth to get out. The pervasiveness of social media should make it easier, not harder, for conservatives to get a message out around the media gatekeepers.
Millennials should be told what happened in Venezuela after Sanders’s ideological brother Hugo Chavez took over; they should be told how toilet paper became a black market commodity and supermarket shelves became bare. And they should be made aware that Sweden is not quite the utopia they’ve been taught it is.