It's not exactly interesting that the two candidates who inspire the most fervant followings are at the extremes of the US primaries. Things are naturally a little gnarlier out there on the fringes. What's interesting about Trump and the Bern is not the energy, but the mass. Their followings are not fringe-sized. They're what groovy 60's political scientists used to call 'mass publics'.
I liked this, bemused, slightly patronising piece in The Atlantic about Sander's youthful jihadis. I don't think it actually meant to be patronising, but there is a real 'Kids these days' feel to it.
They line up for hours to see Sanders, snow accumulating on their puffy jackets and knit caps and uncombed hair. They fill college arenas, chanting, “Ber-nie! Ber-nie!” They gather in little knots as they wait for him to appear, engaging in impromptu rap sessions about pot legalization and campaign-finance reform. They are feeling the Bern.
If Sanders wins the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, as he is favored to do, it will be because of the youth movement he has inspired. It will be a stunning result in a state that has historically been friendly to Bill and Hillary Clinton, a dramatic overthrow of the Democratic machine by a rebellious new generation of liberals. And if nobody saw this coming, that may be because nobody was listening to what the kids were trying to tell us.