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Bernout: Brandeis’s drop in enthusiasm for Bernie Sanders

Bernout: Brandeis’s drop in enthusiasm for Bernie Sanders

By Katarina Weessies

Section: Featured, Opinions

March 4, 2016

Super Tuesday was bleak for Bernie Sanders fans. Although Sanders did take the majority in a few states—Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Vermont—it looks like Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination. This is hardly unexpected. Hillary Clinton is a seasoned politician who has been vocal in D.C. since her husband’s presidency. Sanders is a new face in politics; most Americans hadn’t even heard the Vermont Senator’s name until he announced his presidential bid in 2015. In fact, it is amazing that Sanders has made it this far. His Democratic Socialism and emphasis on social justice is controversial but incredibly appealing to educated millennials, many of whom were disappointed with the Obama administration’s inability to follow through on many of its more liberal promises. Sanders’ campaign is a more intellectual echo of Obama’s “Hope and Change” platform during the 2008 election. However, Sanders takes his liberalism a step further than Obama by openly acknowledging his socialist economic stance.

When Sanders first launched his extremely liberal campaign, Brandeis students were thrilled. Many felt that with Sanders as an option, their presidential vote would no longer be for the lesser of two evils but for a candidate who they felt was genuinely well-intentioned and beneficial for the country as a whole. For months, it seemed that most every Brandeis student’s laptop was plastered with Bernie 2016 stickers and every dorm room had Bernie posters up on its walls.

Of course, Brandeis students’ political views are not monolithic. Even during the height of the Bernie Sanders fervor, many Clinton supporters and even a few scattered Republicans roamed the Brandeis campus. That being said, enthusiasm for Sanders was far more visible than for any other candidate. But recently, the drive to elect Bernie Sanders has subsided.

Wandering through the library, I see far fewer laptops decorated with the Bernie 2016 logo. When students discuss the election, there is less emphasis on the Sanders candidacy, with most students preferring to voice their hope that a Democrat, any Democrat, will win the presidency over Trump. It is difficult to still find any of the intense enthusiasm that Brandeis students had for Sanders during the first stages of his candidacy.

This decline in enthusiasm is practical, not ideological. With the Super Tuesday results in, Brandeis students have to accept that Sanders probably won’t win the nomination. They have switched from their focus on electing Sanders to a sort of damage-control mode, where the focus is on avoiding a Republican (read: Trump) presidency. They no longer have the long-term goal of electing Sanders, although many feel that he still has the best ideological platform.

Especially after her sweep of many state primaries, a good portion of Brandeis students are genuine Clinton supporters. Most of them cite Clinton’s robust political experience, foreign policy and realistic goal-setting as their reasons for supporting her. All three of these justifications for supporting Clinton are the reverse of Sanders’ most apparent weaknesses. Despite the increasing support for Clinton, Brandeis’ eagerness to elect her is lukewarm compared to the excitement previously demonstrated for Sanders.

Although the obstacles faced by Sanders supporters are likely insurmountable, Brandeis students ought not give up on politics. Bernie Sanders probably is not going to be president, but that does not mean that his supporters cannot advocate for the reforms he promotes. Even without Sanders as a rallying point, students still have the capability to display political fervor and enthusiasm throughout the upcoming election.

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