Passing the torch: who’s the next Bernie?
Senator Bernie Sanders is a deeply influential politician for many young people like me. He has been able to incorporate progressive ideas into the mainstream political discourse in recent years during his presidential campaigns.
It was so impressive for me to see how Sanders managed to bring so much energy to his speeches and campaigns that motivated and inspired many teens like me. So much so that he is now the reason why many teens are so progressive in the first place. But when the next presidential election takes place, he will be in the early 1980s. And I very much doubt that he is ready to run again.
The question therefore becomes: what is the future of progressive presidential candidates? Basically – who will be the next Bernie? Before I say who I believe will be “the next Bernie”, it’s important to understand what made him so popular in the first place.
PERSONAL POLICIES FIRST
Anyone who hopes to follow in Sanders‘ footsteps must support the majority of his positions. That means universal health care, hard line climate reform, significantly higher taxes for the rich, Minimum wage of $ 15 and college debt relief. These obviously do not cover its entire platform. But these are the ideas that seem the most popular.
TIO BERNIE CHARISMA
In his speeches and in his social media presence, Sanders has a certain power in his words. His speeches are capable of instilling a sense of hope, even for someone as jaded as me. He rarely tries to be cordial and subtle when talking about other politicians – calling them often and flat ignite them.
ORGANIZING ROYALTY OF GRASSROOTS
What I’m also looking for in a candidate for “The Next Bernie” is someone who follows Sanders’ legacy by leading a grassroots campaign. He was able to raise tens of millions of dollars entirely through individual donations of the American people. Sanders is not indebted to any corporate interests or to wealthy donors. Any candidate wishing to follow his path must therefore adopt this same campaign style.
MAN IS CONSISTENT
From his first political position as mayor of Burlington, Sanders’ views have been consistent. He started demonstrating for civil rights in the 1960s and has even been arrested for that. He opposed the Vietnam War in the 1960s and the war in Iraq in the 2000s. It was one vocal advocate for gay rights in the 90s. What I need the “next Bernie” is not to turn on me.
DRUM BEARING PLEASE…
To me, MP Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez represents exactly the same assets as Sanders.
She presented the Green New Deal, a comprehensive and aggressive plan to fight climate change, in 2019. Ocasio-Cortez is also a Medicare for All voice promoter. And constantly fought for a better federal minimum salary because she has significant minimum wage work experience. She also proposed a 70% marginal tax rate for the rich, and continues to denounce student debt – which itself is saddled with.
In terms of charisma, Ocasio-Cortez makes no sense with an incredibly sharp mind, using social media platforms like Twitter to reach a wider audience. And the fact that she’s very young compared to some of the government dinosaurs makes her feel more comfortable with a ton of Gen Z and Millennials – the next presidential candidates have to convince.
The point is, in terms of consistency, Ocasio-Cortez has been in politics far too short a time to judge. She is only in her second term. But like Sanders, she’s known for herself popular country style and fundraising around small donors.
There are many other political figures who embody these qualities, such as Representative Ilhan Omar, Representative Rashida Tlaib, Representative Cori Bush and Representative Jamaal Bowman.
But Ocasio-Cortez has already amassed a monstrous audience of over 12 million followers on Twitter and 8 million on Instagram. This gives it a major advantage as it already has a massive platform. And if she chose to run for president, she would be an established and well-known candidate, giving her more media coverage and recognition, allowing her to reach an older audience that might not have considered to vote for it before.
Young people can see themselves in her – I know I can. And as Gen Z goes through our own political disillusionment with police brutality, COVID and climate change, there is a massive group of politically motivated and frustrated young voters looking for a future presidential candidate who can bring real change. . And if this candidate looks like them, talks like them, and relates to them, Ocasio-Cortez could easily be as popular – if not more popular – than Sanders.
Ultimately, no one really knows. Hey, maybe Sanders could turn a cyborg and run again. But until we figure out how to do that, we have a new generation of progressive leaders ready to change the world.