What does socialism really mean to millennials?

The next presidential election may be over 500 days away, but people across the political spectrum are already scrambling to make sense of what the 2020 election may look like following the release of the Mueller report.

As millennials become more clear about what policies matter to them, so does their idea of what they want in a commander-in-chief. This isn’t exactly surprising since voters are hoping to piece together a better version of America following a Trump presidency.

With the desire to progress away from capitalism and move the nation forward, many have turned to “democratic socialism” for answers to do so. To some, it may seem like the term started gaining traction when presidential candidates began campaigning this year, but the rise of socialism came long before the formation of Bernie Sanders’ ride-or-die Bernie Bros and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s devoted Instagram followers.

Sanders, a self-proclaimed socialist, built his 2016 presidential campaign on ideas like reversing economic equality and increasing the minimum wage, which in turn, re-defined socialism for millennials.

Americans now favor socialism more than capitalism, according to a 2018 Gallup poll.

These socialist ideals have been the selling points for an all-just democracy that have won millennials over. This new association between progressive ideals and socialism has brought a new playing field for upcoming presidential candidates, and democratic president-hopefuls are taking note.

Candidates like Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar can be seen flip-flopping on the issue of “debt-free” versus “tuition-free” college, which means a tremendous deal for students deciding where they should pursue higher education.

What does socialism mean to millennials outside of its theoretical, good-in-nature meaning, then? Democratic socialism, for instance, isn’t as utopian as many would like to believe.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “California For All” budget proposal has been called ambitious, addressing issues such as paid parental leave and eradicating sales tax on diapers and tampons, but concerns about where the $209 billion for the budget will come from continue to pile up.

In a social climate where it’s no longer possible to say “I’m not really political,” millennials now face a tough challenge of really figuring out which presidential candidate will best address issues that affect them. Voters will soon see a glimpse of these issues and policies related to them during the first round of democratic presidential debates, which are scheduled for late June.

As it stands, it’s the responsibility of everyday Americans to figure out what they want as a country, and it’s evidently the policies they ultimately should be understanding and fighting for to move America forward.

Democracy isn’t something that can be shaded in with one crayon, and the sooner millennials start to realize that the lines defining the country’s core values are more important than what kind of lines they are, the closer the country will be to progress.