Anger and alienation have turned this presidential election upside down. Outsider Republican candidates, such as Donald Trump and Ben Carson, have strong support in the polls. And as Presidential candidates advertise their credentials, most Republicans are rethinking their positions and questioning their support for Republican hopefuls. “Many” are concluding the Republican party no longer represents their beliefs and have shifted their support to… Bernie Sanders?
There is no “one” reason these Republicans for Sanders are supporting him. Some are disgusted with the status quo of Washington’s politicians, and believe Bernie, with his fiery demands for change, is the most realistic presidential contender to make the changes. Others have been loyal Republicans, but are alarmed by the fear mongering and blatant statements of prejudice.
Chris Ellis, a political science professor at Bucknell University, said,
“Once you get out of Washington, the word “conservative” can mean all sorts of different things. Voters are often left of center on some issues and right of center on others. So someone like Trump or Sanders who talks about themselves in a way that doesn’t fit into a pre-ordained box could be appealing to a lot of people.”
In some instances, longtime Republicans are rethinking their political affiliation entirely. Tarie MacMillan, a 65-year-old Florida resident, said,
“I’m inclined to say I might stay with the Democratic Party, because the Republican Party has changed and it’s not the way it used to be.”
Rather than claiming to have experienced a political conversion, Republicans argue that Sanders actually embodies their conservative values.
Some Republicans are drawn to Bernie’s combination of honesty and fiery personality. His sense of genuineness. Andrew Holl, a 38-year-old registered Republican voter living in Florida stated,
“I’ve watched some of Bernie Sanders’ town halls and there have been people who will try to speak over him and sometimes he just tells people to shut up and starts screaming at them. That’s awesome. I think it’s evidence of being genuine. He reacts honestly in every situation.”
Sanders’ promise to take power from Wall Street and return it to the American middle class taps into the same anger that gave rise to the Tea Party. It is also a message resonating with mainstream Republicans and Democrats. For example, 62 percent of Republicans believe that large corporations have too much influence on American politics, (per a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted in May).
Elizabeth Coggins, a professor at Colorado College who studies American political psychology and ideological identification, says,
Sanders has focused primarily on economic issues on which Americans are not divided. There is a strong consensus in agreement with Sanders on many of his core ideas, and his rhetoric has been largely centered on these sorts of issues.
Some conservatives readily admit they don’t love everything Bernie stands for, but insist that doesn’t change their affinity the senator.
Bryan Brown, a 47-year-old Oregon resident, stated,
“I have been a conservative Republican my entire life. But the Republican party as a whole has gotten so far out of touch with the American people. I switched my registration so that I could vote for Sanders in the primary, but the day the primary is over I’m going to register as an Independent.”
Ashby Edwards, a 43-year-old self-described lifelong conservative living in Virginia, said,
“I’m not 100 percent behind his platform but I like him as a person. For me it really comes down to authenticity. We’ve seen so much deadlock in Congress and I think people are looking for someone who can be passionate and authentic rather than being partisan.”
Republicans who support Sanders don’t like being labeled liberals either, but that’s not enough to deter them. Jeff DeFelice, a Republican voter living in Florida, said,
“There’s a mentality of you’re either this or you’re that, but the world doesn’t work that way. Things aren’t always black or white. The world operates in shades of gray.”