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COLUMN: Young vote is key for Sanders

Knowing you’ll soon be only feet away from possibly the next president of the United States makes the leg cramps gained during a seven-hour road trip to Iowa City easier to handle.

Throw in seeing Vampire Weekend perform twice for free, once only three feet away from you in a coffee shop, and you won’t even notice the soreness until adventure is over.

As seen by those following the Central Michigan Life snapchat on Saturday, five friends and I drove to Iowa City to attend the last Bernie Sanders rally before caucuses began on Monday.

Only two days away from the first presidential nominating contest, lines were long and tensions were high. The caucuses began Monday and over that weekend, newspapers had Sanders and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton placed in dead heat.

Six blocks of lines circled the city as we waited for the doors to open. The Washington Post estimated 1,700 people in attendance, a majority appearing to be part of the millennial generation.

Sander’s campaign planners clearly aren’t ignorant to who Sanders main supporters are in this campaign. Before his speech, bands Foster the People and Vampire Weekend performed with short speeches by Josh Hutcherson between.

Sanders walked out to the center stage after the performances and emphasized the same issues that had first gained him national attention, especially among younger voters, when he launched his bid nine months ago.

His philosophy followed the sign reading “A future to believe in" behind him when he called for pay equity for women, a $15 minimum wage, an overhaul of the tax system to make large corporations to pay substantially more and a $1 trillion federal jobs program.

The crowd of more than a thousand had a deafening cheer, but in the silences that followed, there was an honest reminder given at the end of the speech: even if their cheers left ears ringing for days or how impressive the attendance was, neither will make a difference if the supporters didn’t end up voting.

No matter what party you choose to adhere to, the amount of people who claim to care isn't equal to the amount of people who actually are voting.

Our generation has opinions. We aren't as apathetic or uninformed as people make us out to be. We attend rallies, we engage in debate, we post articles online, we order large stickers to put on laptops and cars.

And yet, it’s often the older generations, the ones who won’t be affected by the next president’s political decisions for as long as we will be, who decide what decisions will affect our world for the long years to come.

Surrounded by thousands of cheering people at the rally, the reality was that, despite their passion in that moment toward the issues being debated, statistically, only half will end up at the voting polls.

To those who don’t vote claiming that it won’t make a difference, remember that at the caucus the day after the rally, Sanders fell behind Hillary Clinton by one vote.

Leave behind the belief that our voices and our votes don’t make a difference.

Sanders would not be a serious candidate for the job if it weren’t for his appeal to our generation. President Barack Obama was elected because we decided to go out and vote for him.

Follow through with the final act.

While shouting your opinions and rallying with the candidate who agrees with them the most is great, without your actual vote, your efforts fall into the void of indifference.