Boomers Versus Zoomers: Who is the next generation’s leader?

BY CHRIS STEELE

A strange phenomenon appears to be emerging within the 2020 Presidential Democratic field. Two of the front runners are Bernie Sanders, the oldest candidate, and Pete Buttigieg, the youngest candidate. These candidates are several decades apart in age and it seems that their supporters are as well but not in the way many would think. Sanders seems to appeal most to the youngest voters while Buttigieg draws the most appeal from the older group of voters. 

At Pete Buttigieg’s rally there was a section set up for people who needed to sit down. Older supporters sat and watched as Pete delivered his speech. Photo by Axel Mueller

The main platform of Bernie Sanders’ campaign is a socialist view including free medicare and college for all. Pete Buttigieg considers himself to have a more centralist platform. For many younger people, like 21 year old resident of Arnold, Pennsylvania Johnathan Kauffman, the ideals of the Sanders Campaign is hitting very close to home.

“Coming out of high school I decided I was going to attend the University of Pittsburgh of tuition was so high and my student loan interest was so steep that at the end of graduation there was no way I was going to be able to pay it all off. I decided it was best to just drop out and work at home instead,” said Kauffman. “I’m supporting Bernie because he is going to erase all my debt and going to give people like me who can’t afford college to go back and finish their degrees without going broke.”

Most of the supporters who stood behind Mayor Buttigieg were from the boomer generation. Photo by Axel Mueller

Although many older liberals agree on most of Sanders’ policies, they identify with the action plan that Mayor Buttigieg has in mind for issues like health care. Buttigieg also differs with Sanders on the fact that instead of providing medicare for all regardless, Buttigieg plans to give medicare to all who want it to allow some of the private insurance companies to allow room for improvement and competition. 

“I do like the ideas of medicare and free college for all, I just struggle with the idea of where all this money is going to come from when our country already has such a deep debt and that I have to take Medicare without a choice,” according to 69 year old Jan Gouch. “I like the fact that Pete is erasing only some debt versus Bernie’s idea of spending erratic amounts of money to provide free college to all. I also like the fact that Pete is giving private companies a chance to improve and let people choose who they want to be insured under.”

To members of the Buttigieg campaign, it appears obvious that they need more support from the younger voters if they want to have any success in this race. This especially resides with Buttigieg himself.

Bernie Sanders delivers a speech at his rally. Vampire Weekend and other young voters support him from behind. Photo by Micah Beck

“My outreach to the younger generations is that it’s the longer you’re going to be here, the more you have at stake and choices you have to make about climate, gun violence, making sure the economy works for us and much more. We have to make sure we take action now because we’re running out of time,” said the former South Bend, Indiana mayor and democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg in an exclusive interview with The Wadsworth Bruin after his rally on February 2nd at Lincoln High School. “I’m ready to build a multi-generational coalition to get those things done and I’m eager for people, some not even old enough to vote yet, but certainly old enough to volunteer and spread the message to be apart of delivering that change.

A tendency we continue to witness in the support of these candidates is that younger people also are favoring Bernie Sanders due in large to the experience that he possesses in American politics. 

“I only want someone to win the democratic nomination if they can beat Donald Trump in the election,” said 22 year old Lancaster, Ohio native, Maya Cox. “I know that Joe (Biden) has been in office before, but Bernie is talking about how he will beat Trump and what he’s going to do after he wins the White House. Joe has mostly been talking about just beating Trump, that’s fine but I still want someone who is going to make change in there, not just win.”

A problem that many people in the older generation have with Sanders at age 78 is that he is very old compared to the youngest potential president, Pete Buttigieg at age 38. 

Young Sanders reporters raise their signs in agreement as he talks about his policies. Photo by Chris Steele

“I was Bernie supporter in 2016 because I agree with a lot of his ideas. Now I think Bernie is too old to run versus back in 2016,” said 65 year old Kathleen Kaminski. “I’m worried that if we do elect Bernie there is that chance that he may die in office. I’d rather have the person I elected to be the president, not his VP.”

Although they are rooting for different candidates to win the nominee, the pattern across all ages of the democratic party is to elect a democrat into the White House and not allow President Trump to be re-elected.

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