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To the Boomers We Love: Join Us Young People in the Movement Behind Bernie Sanders

Polls show that many older Americans don’t support Bernie Sanders. But we don’t want to write those boomers off — we want to warmly invite them to join our movement that’s fighting for dignified lives for us, for them, and for their children and grandchildren.

Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders attend a campaign rally in Calder Plaza on March 08, 2020 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Scott Olson / Getty

Dear Boomers,

We are millennials. Like the majority of our young peers, we enthusiastically support Bernie Sanders for president. And we want to ask the older generation to join Bernie’s movement.

Boomers like you often get a bad rap from young people like us. Who can forget the recent “OK, Boomer” meme, denigrating you on the basis of your age? But we are writing this letter because we don’t believe you should be written off. On the contrary: we need you.

That’s why both of us have worked so hard to convince the older people in our lives to join our movement. One of us, Keith, asked his mom, an independent, to vote for Bernie. She liked Pete Buttigieg’s youth and polished demeanor. But when Keith explained how Bernie’s proposals for a Green New Deal and Medicare for All were essential to his future, she changed her mind. Keith’s mom committed to voting for Bernie and to talking to her friends about it.

Nick’s formerly Republican parents were disgusted with Donald Trump and the contemporary GOP, but they worried about voting for a candidate who proudly wears the “democratic socialist” label. Eventually, Nick convinced them that Bernie and his mass movement for racial and economic justice are our best shot at getting Trump out of the White House.

Youth all over the country are trying to convince their families to vote for Bernie. Fifty-three percent of eighteen- to thirty-four-year-olds support Bernie, more than double his closest competitor. We are powering a massive small donor base and leading a volunteer army across the country. This movement has already resulted in record youth support in the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary.

Having supported and volunteered for Barack Obama’s youth-driven campaign in 2008, we know that we will need a movement of passionate young people of every color and gender to beat Trump in November. Right now, too few of our parents support Bernie. We hear many of you say that Bernie is too old, or too radical, or that his ideas are impractical. Many of you have told us you’re drawn to Joe Biden, who promises a return to pre-Trump normalcy.

But we think Bernie is just what we need. Bernie has repeatedly beat well-funded Republicans in libertarian-leaning, rural Vermont. By working with grassroots movements, he’s won not just elections but major legislative victories for veterans, peace, and rural health care. He has built a huge support base, leading in donations from women, the military, teachers, and residents of swing districts.

Young people won’t turn out to defend the decorum of the office of the president, or “pragmatism,” which to us just sounds like lowered expectations and stunted ambitions. We need a livable future — something a Joe Biden presidency won’t provide. We won’t cancel our work shifts to volunteer for the same “moderate” Democrats who have cut our school funding, deported and jailed our friends, defended the fossil fuel industry, and made our student debt permanent. All our lives, we’ve seen how the Democratic elites’ eagerness to compromise has contributed to disaster: mass deportations, weakened unions, stagnant wages, ballooning student and medical debt, rising living costs, endless war, climate crisis, and the rise of the far right.

Despite all that, we have more hope than ever. In 2018, red state teachers — many inspired by Bernie’s 2016 run for president — set off a historic strike wave, reversing the tide on years of attacks on public education. When Trump and the GOP shut down the federal government in order to get funding for the racist border wall, sickouts by airport workers and the threat of a strike by the Association of Flight Attendants forced Trump to reopen the government. And young people are joining groups like the Sunrise Movement and the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) by the tens of thousands, organizing for the essentials of a dignified life for all: health care, housing, education, good union jobs, and a healthy environment.

These are the stories of the last three years that point to the foundations of a better society: a revitalized labor movement, solidarity across lines of race and gender, and people-powered action to beat the climate crisis and win a humane existence for all. The Bernie campaign is helping to make these foundations last.

A real movement for real change is here, powered by young people and the multiracial working class. We humbly ask you to help our movement, to win the future we deserve.