Photo by Tyler Meuter

I asked my dad the other day why he supported Bernie Sanders. He responded by stating that all the other candidates were corrupt, terrible and evil, and that Sanders was the only one who consistently maintained an ideology worth supporting. And while my dad didn’t actually say those things, the sentiment is one that seems to emanate from those entrenched deeply within Sanders’s camp.

So, if the other people running for president are really so corrupt, and evil, why are the majority of Americans in their corners? Well, Star Wars has shown us that
often, the bad guys have much cooler outfits. And that may indeed be a factor, what with Sanders usually looking like he rolled out of bed in the morning right onto the podium.

But that only provides an incomplete explanation. The truth is that Sanders’s rhetoric offers moral and political absolutism. And it is magnetic towards young adults who see it as a purity of sorts. This purity is infinitely preferable to any type of normal politician behavior, because the maneuvering and doublethink that so often comes with this political behavior is very easy to detest.

Yet what is not immediately apparent is that this ideological purity and unwillingness to change thinking in the slightest is exactly what leads to gridlock in government. Idealism is a fun fantasy to entertain when lacking experience of reality, but applied in practice, the result is absolutely nothing getting accomplished. The reason is quite easy to see; if our politicians permanently remain resolute and steadfast in their policies and stances, no compromise will ever be reached.

Despite the above, there are still those out there who believe that Sanders would be the best option for president. And why is this the case if it is so glaringly obvious that his tenure would be characterized by nothing happening? Well, according to myself ­ — a source to which I often refer — there are three main schools of political thought: pragmatism, idealism and fear. Of these, one is based on experience. One is a remnant of primal reactions and instincts. And the remaining, which I hope you’ve guessed is idealism, revolves around believing in that for which there is no evidence. And a large chunk of young, naive people will always fall into that category, just by consequence of being young.

One of the few things that can be said for the Sanders supporters in this election cycle is that they actually have genuine reasons to back their candidate. Most of them hear the issues and proposals he makes and nod their head in agreement. For the sake of this argument, it matters not that the majority of these proposals have no chance at becoming any more than ideas.

Contrast those who back Sanders with those who support Trump, a candidate for president whose rhetoric is comprised primarily of fear-mongering and grandstanding. These methods innately appeal to those members of society who have chosen not to allocate mental acuity towards this election.

Pragmatism, or centrism, is definitely not the sexiest. But it’s an approach that gets results. Where an idealist will ask for the farm and all of the cows, a pragmatic politician will understand that he’ll only be able to get the farm, and only then if he agrees to set aside five percent of his crop yield for the seller. Which isn’t headline-worthy, but it has been accomplished. Bipartisan alliances and real legislation come from compromises, which arise through pragmatic leaders and ideology. Not unrealistic demands.

What my dad did actually say was “I’m a millennial. Can’t you tell?” I could not, especially since my dad normally seems quite a bit smarter than the average millennial. But perhaps idealism is just a refreshing treat once in awhile, before a trip back to reality.