Photo by Tyler Meuter

Politics is my guilty pleasure. Actually, no, scratch that. Politics is my passion; my quirky way to alleviate stress; my go-to pick me up when I am upset and questioning everything. I am openly involved in political discussions, and I am not afraid to shout from the rooftops that I am a raging liberal.

All of the above being said, many of my peers seem to avoid politics — depending on the ideas of their parents or other respected elders to help them “identify” their political stances. I will not lie that my parents had some amount of influence on my political identity, but after a certain point, I took the initiative to become active. In fact, it has gotten to the point where I know more than both of my parents what is going on in Washington, and they oftentimes wish I would change the subject.

So you can imagine that given my political beliefs and the upcoming election season, which kicks off on Feb. 1 in Iowa, I am, as the kids nowadays say, “hyped.” I openly support former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but I am truly fascinated by Senator Bernie Sanders’ rise in the polls. In fact, sometimes I worry about whether or not my girl is going to win the nomination.

Unlike Clinton, Sanders is an open socialist who is not afraid to also be an idealist in achieving his goals. He has been pretty unwavering in his major platform views of resolving income inequality, social justice and small-scale economics since his tutelage in the Capitol began after his election to the House of Representatives in 1991.

Both Clinton and Sanders are powerful individuals in Washington who have by no means kept quite or inactive on the issues they and their constituents are passionate about. Furthermore, it cannot be said that neither politician has also had his or her fair share of errors: Clinton most notably voting in favor of the Iraqi invasion in 2003, and Sanders voting in favor of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act in 2005, which allowed gun manufactures to avoid lawsuits of negligence if a crime was committed with their guns.

Interestingly enough, however, given the facts that both politicians have had a fair share of errors in judgments, Sanders’ campaign has taken it upon itself to attack Clinton for a multitude of reasons including her funding from Wall Street, her vote to enter into military combat after 9/11 and, most recently, her ties to the “institution” after Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights campaigns announced their support for Clinton on Jan. 10.

Clinton is not the only one with faults in prior political engagements. A little known fact is that Sanders was elected to Congress with a large portion of funding from the National Rifle Association (NRA) — an organization that has a strong foothold in his native state of Vermont. Recently in this election, he has been dismissive and avoiding the questions of his affiliation to the conservative organization.

Nonetheless, my purpose in writing this article is not to sway readers in the direction of one candidate over the other. If you want to support Sanders, Clinton or O’Malley, go for it. I hope to see as many of my peers involved in the political sphere as possible, making decisions to elect individuals who are capable of impacting positive change on America (i.e. any candidate that is not a Republican).

Knowing that many of the voters my age, 18 to 24, support Sanders, my only hope is that if he does not win the democratic nomination, voters are not discouraged from participating in the general election.

The bottom line is that the American public needs a Democrat to stay in office. Whether you may like Clinton or not, she provides many of the same policies as Sanders, just on a more realistic and achievable level. If Sanders does not end up winning the nomination, it would be irresponsible of the voters to opt out of the election because their nominee of choice did not win; doing so would be the exact reason why a monster like Donald Trump or Ted Cruz would win the White House.