The biggest names in the campaigning for 2016's U.S Presidential election have been Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and - against all odds - Bernie Sanders. Senator Bernie Sanders, a Jewish man with a background in civil rights activism (America's Jeremy Corbyn), is wildly, astonishingly popular with young Americans, and the surge of Sanders across social media is putting Clinton's campaign to shame. As young Americans are disillusioned with the state of their nation today - extortionate university fees, poor healthcare, the rise of police brutality - they look toward more extreme politics. This helps to explain the state of the polls in recent months; Trump and Sanders are increasingly considered the most serious contenders in their respective political parties.
The almost comical, but largely terrifying, possibility of Donald Trump becoming President of the United States presents a bizarre crossroads for the future of U.S politics. On the one hand, there's Bernie Sanders, the most left-wing candidate the U.S elections have seen in decades, if ever. On the other hand, cartoon villain Donald Trump, who appears to be basing his campaign entirely on racism, xenophobia, and an unwavering faith in the power of wealth. Strangest of all is that Trump is ahead in the polls, and shows little sign of slowing down.
So, why then should any of this mean anything to young British people, or to UK citizens in general? It should be clear that America is a global power, and the nation's economic and political activity undoubtedly has a global impact. However, asWinston Churchill was the first to acknowledge, the particular "Special Relationship" between the United States and the United Kingdom is one that - though unofficial - means the decisions made by one government absolutely affect the other, more so even than the rest of the world might be affected. During last year's U.S government shutdown, the UK was thrown into a mild panic. Whatever crisis the U.S could be headed for, the UK would go down with them. This is all to say that U.S politics, no matter how removed young British people may feel, cannot be ignored.
Bernie Sanders offers refreshingly liberal policies and ideologies, akin to the much-criticised ideas Corbyn is offering the UK: Sanders stated in a Presidential Debate on Tuesday that, unequivocally "black lives matter", openly criticising the actions of American police. Sanders is pro-choice, and has been a supporter of marriage equality for years before Clinton uncomfortably backtracked on her anti-marriage equality stance. He also supports improving the path to citizenship for migrants, seeks to raise the minimum wage to $15, and opposes the expansion of the military or an increase in military spending. All of these policies are promising for the majority of young Americans, and a massive shift from what the Republican candidates (and even Clinton) want for the future of the U.S.
Regardless of which candidate best aligns with your personal politics, the result of next year's Presidential Election is crucial, because America's political future is crucial in deciding the future of the United Kingdom's. Whether or not you 'feel the Bern', Bernie Sanders is a surprising figure in current U.S politics and he is worth paying attention to. Talk about the election with friends and family, and keep apprised of the polls. Based on the most recent polls, the 2016 election could come down to Sanders vs. Trump, and that is an election you won't want to miss.