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Thu Feb 18, 2016, 01:21 AM

Daily Cal: The Zoetrope Effect

Sanders’ puritanical liberalism is his most salient hurdle to success in office. It is also exactly why a vocal subset of my peers seem to like him. When UC Berkeley students belong to an institution where two-thirds self-describe as some version of liberal, we ought to regularly question what that designation even means. But too often, those who I encounter in the more liberal pockets of Berkeley do not, advocating instead, like blind zealots with unfocused beliefs, for high-minded progressive ideals.

By pledging their allegiance to broad, complicated dogmas, the most liberal of my friends avoid having to justify their position. Sanders’ elusive rhetoric and convincing idealism mirrors their own hazy political consciousness and, more importantly, affords them to not question the elements of the things they say they believe. By dint of the fact that my UC Berkeley peers and I are pursuing a college degree makes us a pragmatic subset of the population. Why, then, does our knowledge of the importance of realism seem to diminish when faced by unchecked progressivism? Why has my former pro-Hillary housemate suddenly denounced Clinton, in light of Sanders’ momentum, as “only slightly better than Ted Cruz?”

I laud the efforts made by Sanders to foster discourse about our economic and sociopolitical climate. But I also think that certain rhetoric can be dangerous, especially when its argument is rooted in a foundational illusion, and particularly when that illusion seems to dissuade otherwise contemplative students from sensibility. Mythology is almost always antagonistic to advancement. As such, activists ought to seriously question the stories that political candidates want us to believe in order to avoid harboring a culture of blind liberalism for the sake of liberalism.

Sanders personifies the utopian existence that energizes my peers’ general desire for a more accepting world. But millennials don’t love Bernie. They love the image projected by the zoetrope of his campaign: his role as visionary figurehead, the idyllic American vision that he ardently maintains, the simplicity and the nostalgia and the steadfast belief that life, in the end, is not nearly as complex as we’ve convinced ourselves to believe.


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