Amidst a crowd of approximately two thousand liberals in the heart of what seemed to be a patch of grass in the middle of nowhere, a journalist approached my friends and me with a relatively straightforward question: “Why do you support Bernie Sanders?”
Having grown up in the rather conservative northern Virginia, I fail to recall a time when someone with an opposing viewpoint explicitly inquired into my political beliefs without an intent to antagonize. After an intense retrospective session, I have come to the conclusion that this confrontation could stem from either my young age or my so-called “radical views” in the perspective of both the young and old conservatives I have grown up with. Or perhaps both elements are factors. Whatever the reason, being a (somewhat raging) liberal student in northern Virginia has garnered me a bit of a local reputation. Such a reputation may stem from the stereotype of the deranged liberal, whether it be an anarchic feminist who burns her bras and chants about the patriarchy, or an avid communist destroying corporate property.
I seem to be comprised solely of unpopular opinions: I think mustard hovers the line between revolting and some purified derivative of Satan’s piss; most musicals make me cringe; I approve of President Obama and his policies. Yet, a difference in opinion cannot and should not lead to a hostile inquiry of the underlying reasoning behind such an opinion. With this being said, I am perpetually open to debating political viewpoints. One must keep in mind, however, that an intellectual debate is comprised of empathizing with and understanding the opposing viewpoint, not refusing to acknowledge its validity. A part of me (maybe the part that enjoys burning bras and attempting to dismantle the patriarchy) would like to conclude that I support a self-declared socialist just to relish at the dismay of my conservative peers. Although I have adapted to peers cringing at my political input, I deduce that I truly support Senator Sanders first and foremost for his sincere interest in protecting minority rights. From the long overdue establishment of marriage equality to a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her own body, Sanders advocates not for an extreme left wing, but rather, for a sense of equality that the twenty-first century fervently demands. Tainted by the communist regimes that defined the Cold War era, the term socialism, at least in my mind, refers to the reasonable sacrifice of the individual so that everyone has enough.
Associating age with a lack of genuine comprehension, many adults question the validity of my opinions, especially political ones. Paradoxically, many adults simultaneously demand that the generation of millennials becomes involved with current events. Being a newcomer to the electoral system seems to elicit doubt regarding the foundation comprising my political beliefs. There exists a misconception that the American youth are unaware of the extent to which political instability adulterates the world, a misconception that stems from the assurance that teenagers are in revolt. To assume that youths are in revolt would be a valid deduction. Yet young adults are not in an insane fit of mutiny; rather, we are a part of a political revolution, one whose catalyst comes in the shape of becoming informed citizens. In regards to the higher education that should serve to prolong this catalyst, it is not unreasonable to rally behind the man that introduced the “College for All” Act. Despite his age, Senator Sanders resonates with the needs of the youth. As the job market tightens the rope around the neck of young college graduates, it is reassuring to me as a young adult that there exists a presidential candidate who understands the value that education has not only to an individual, but to an entire society as well.
The journalist thanked us and asked to take our picture alongside the banner we made that read “Feel the Bern.” Three and a half hours later upon my return, my mother demanded to know if an all-day political event had been worth sacrificing rare and precious hours of study time. To this question, I resolutely and ardently answered “yes,” as being consciously able to apply information I have gathered to the so-called “real world” exists as the most medicinal form of education.
by Donya Zargham