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Why college students, both boys and girls, are feeling the Bern

The other day, while teaching my students the subjunctive in Spanish, they had to finish the sentence “Me mudaré a otro país en caso de que…” (“I will move to another country in the event that…”). As you can imagine, this happening in a university, none of my four classes failed to quickly fill in the rest of the sentence with different versions, all in perfectly correct subjunctive, of “gane Donald Trump” (“Donald Trump wins”).

I totally expected this, as Donald Trump doesn’t seem to be very popular among young people, especially among students of an urban university with a large percentage of Hispanic and African American students, and also a pretty significant number of students whose families, or themselves, have immigrated to this country, including myself.

What I didn’t expect was for them to follow by chanting “Feel the Bern”. In pretty much unison. And, to my surprise, all four of my classes did. Boys and girls alike.

I also teach at another university, a private Catholic one, and my students there seem to be feeling the Bern for what I hear, too. Again, boys and girls alike.

If you read the news you know that two very prominent women, Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem, have given quite controversial opinions regarding the fact that young women seem to be leaning more towards Bernie Sanders than towards Hillary Clinton. Ms. Steinem seems to think that this is due to the fact that they are influenced by the boys they want to spend time with.

Let’s be clear. I have never been a huge fan of the feminist movement, or of any other “ism” for that matter. They tend to be polarized and excluding, two things that I don’t like. I am certainly grateful to them because, without them, maybe I wouldn’t be working right now, or even writing this. But I would like for them to stop ostracizing and scorning young women who have an opinion different than theirs. Young women don’t deserve a place in hell if they don’t vote for Hillary Clinton. Young women don’t like Bernie Sanders because that’s what the boys do. Their statements are, at the very least, absolutely disrespectful to those young women, and also pretty damaging to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign.

Young women don’t feel the need to make a woman president to vindicate their gender, or their position in the world. Their ultimate goal is not to have a female president. They have long lives ahead of them to see that happen. The fact that they are rooting for a male candidate doesn’t make their choice any less valid.

Young people, both boys and girls, like Bernie Sanders. They like him because he is an outsider. He seems to be against the system, and that’s what college students feel attracted to. They like him because he is Bernie, an approachable guy, someone with whom you would go for a beer. Someone who seems to care. From the font chosen for his logo, to his slogan, every single bit of it appeals to the hip, young, college kids. Everything feels new, even though, ironically, he is the oldest candidate.

And that is what Mrs. Clinton campaign, and her cheerleaders, seem to be sadly oblivious to.

There are many weeks left of the most entertaining political campaign I have seen since I moved here. Personally, I don’t root for one or the other. Since I cannot vote yet, I am a mere observer. But I can tell you this. In my thirteen years of experience teaching undergraduate students, I have never seen them so passionately involved in an election. Both boys and girls. And that, in itself, is very good news, regardless of the outcome. Because it shows us that they care. And they, both boys and girls, are the people who will keep this country going in a few years.

 
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