With the presidential election only a little over a year away, American eyes have been turning more and more towards the political sphere. This time around we’ve seen some interesting characters pop up. Clinton, Trump, Christie, and another younger Bush are among a few of the names that are being represented in the media. One candidate, however, has worked his way up from the bottom in with what is the definition of a grassroots campaign. Bernie Sanders is an Independent from Vermont who identifies himself as a democratic socialist. Though he is an Independent, he is primarily associated with the Democratic party and mainly takes part in debates with the Democratic party. So what differentiates this man from the rest of the candidates? The biggest thing is his aggressive branding of his campaign, which has both pros and cons for the eager Senator.
As far as pros go, Sanders appeals to a very specific audience and his campaign managers have been using that. Sanders is considered a radical due to his far left views on the economy, education, and other hot button current issues. Sanders, however, is someone who sticks to his views despite there being a general trend toward the moderate area of the spectrum from both political parties. There’s videos of him going back as far as his early days of running for Senator that show him making the same points he does now. As such, Sanders is careful to craft his campaign to appeal to those who identify with his platform: millenials. Young people tend to lean towards a more liberal view and are most inclined to agree with Sanders’ platform. As such, we see a great deal of Bernie on social media platforms such as Facebook Twitter and Reddit. Bernie engages his audience a great deal through these platforms, and it is thanks to these platforms that his popularity has really surged. Essentially, he is to the current presidential race what a viral video is to the Internet. This is where he thrives and his biggest strength is his ability to gather and pump up a crowd, both physically and digitally. He still trails in the polls to Clinton, but as he continues his campaign he continues to reinforce his messages with his opinions more issues like immigration reform, gun control, and police brutality.
At the same time, however, Bernie’s message is very static. Bernie has a very specific set of ideas he believes in that he will stick to no matter what the backlash is. This can be counted among his the cons of his brand because when we look at communication through the lens of design we see that there is a necessity for flexibility and openness. Sanders is known for his fiery debate style and his stubbornness on the issues. While this is certainly good for his credibility, he takes a hit to the kind of people he can appeal to. His inflexibility causes him to be trapped in his audience, and while millenials are certainly a very large and very important group to appeal to, he will have a rough time in the polls unless he can branch out. Another con is the very nature of his radicalness. The truth of the matter is that Americans tend to lean toward a more moderate candidate for president unless there is some sort of major draw otherwise. Furthermore, with Obama facing major criticism over his terms, many Americans may not be willing to go even further left on the political spectrum.
Bernie is one of the most unique candidates in this upcoming year’s race. He appeals to a group of people who are fed up with the way that the government is run and the money is distributed in the country. He knows his audience and uses the most appropriate means possible to connect with them and excite them. However, he has trouble reaching out to those who aren’t already in his target audience. Sanders stands to either become a major competitor for the Democratic nomination or fall from the spotlight within these next few months, depending on how he goes about garnering more support. If you’d like to know more about his position, check out his Twitter and Facebook page or if you’re a Reddit user, his dedicated subreddit.
-Griffin Weidele, Austin Moody, Luci Keefer, Allen Wooten, Scott Uraro