I know these Millennials screaming Bernie’s name. I’ve taught them. And at the risk of being forever blackballed from academia, I have to say they function from a motif of hate and inertia. Bernie Sanders has knowingly promoted both of those red flags of danger.
They hate reading. The first week of class, their disavowal of this basic act of learning comes through loud and clear. One after another, they declare their antipathy, each reinforcing another in giddy delight. They do not read books. They do not read newspapers or magazines. For them, reading consists of their Twitter feed and Facebook posts.
The curriculum department tries hard to overcome this. It designs courses with lots of videos, interactive lessons, three-minute audio podcasts, live tutors to take their hands and walk them through the intricacies of a thesis statement. None of it helps.
They hate research because of course, that requires reading. It demands they attend to the ideas of another, use their intelligence to gather, compare, contrast, distinguish fact from opinion.
Their hatred of research does not extend to sourcing out an essay factory, however. These students are quite capable of locating these, paying their $50 and submitting someone’s fairly well-constructed persuasive essay as their own creation. Again and again, term after term, this happens. I don’t need Turnitin to recognize the fabrication, though it is required to submit a plagiarism charge.
They hate authority. This is not simply an act of defiance as they undergo a maturation process. No, their antipathy to that “power” is a stubborn, spoiled brattiness that seeps over into entitlement. It is an egocentric denial of other. Other in this case equates to an instructor who is outside their age range, experiential knowledge, educational achievement. Their hatred is rooted in the knowledge that a college instructor has the “power” to tell them what’s required for success or failure in a course. This abhorrence peaked when a student called me a “Nazi” for daring to control her disruptive outbursts – but it happened even before that moment. I became a Nazi to her the second week of the course when I challenged her to push her opinionated comments into the realm of fact.
I’ve met with these groups for seven years now. Each term, their resistance becomes stronger. Each term, I wonder how much longer I can continue the facade of educator.
So when I see the thousands of college students flocking to Bernie Sanders and chanting his name in a delirious chorus, I see those students who pass in and out of my classes with their hate-filled visions and their disdain for work.
When I hear Bernie and the simplistic declarations of his own hate, I understand exactly why he is attractive to this group. He demands no intelligent analysis. He demands no convoluted thought. Rather than call on them to do the hard work of change, Bernie tells them to DEMAND it. He offers them repetition – the same lines without variance. We in education know how this works. Repeat the same thing six times, and voila, a connection.
Bernie projects his own victimhood onto these minds, and it dovetails with their disgruntlement, their demand for reparations, their need for entitled status. When he says the process is corrupt, they cheer. Of course, it is corrupt, they think, recalling the professor who flunked them for plagiarism; the employer who fired them for insubordination; the mother who kicked them out of the house; the girlfriend who left them, the bully who punched them in second grade.
Bernie doesn’t ask that they discriminate. No, he promotes hatred as a mantra and a Demand as the answer. So it is no surprise that the Bernies threw a fit in Nevada. The “corrupt system” is the Democratic party itself. And again, they are the victims. Their demands were met with failure. So they screamed vulgarities, jumped up and down, swung chairs in the air, stampeded the dais. Now “Nazi” is replaced with “cunt.” Now disturbing a classroom elevates into death threats.
But mostly, Bernie tells them they are special; they are the revolution; they will rid the planet of all the nasty people, i.e. The Establishment. They eat it up. Because in their heart of hearts (but not in their cognitive realm) they know The Establishment is a big, mean, ugly monster that must be put down. They have absolutely no concept of what replaces the Monster. They’ll let Bernie figure it out.
Bernie encourages that hate. He has mobilized inertia into a state of obscene hostility. And for this, he is the monster.