A Sanders Voter, Weary of Debt at 29: ‘I Have Nothing to Lose’

“I want to be slightly more comfortable financially,” she said, “to have a little extra cushion.”

Mr. Michelz has heard the critiques of Mr. Sanders: He is unelectable. He is radical. His programs cost too much. He knows the senator is not perfect. But he likes his direction.

He plans on voting for Mr. Sanders in the Wisconsin primary next month. But he is not sure what he will do in November if Mr. Sanders is not the nominee.

Mr. Sanders is certainly a better choice than Mr. Biden, he said, who looks like “an ordinary, run-of-the-mill politician,” who is influenced by money and power in the same old ways.

“When I look at him, I don’t see real change or anything like that,” he said.

Mr. Michelz grew up in a large house with a pond at the end of a long driveway a few miles from Yale, a tiny town in rural Eastern Michigan known for its annual bologna festival. His grandparents lived nearby and owned an apple orchard. He spent summers clearing it of brush and weeds.

His grandfather was political — an avid Rush Limbaugh listener who always voted Republican. But his parents, absorbed with their own troubles, were not. His father, who worked on telephone lines, abused his mother, sometimes violently. He could be loving, playing catch with Mr. Michelz and his brother after work. But he could also be frightening, once shoving Mr. Michelz across the living room when he misbehaved. When Mr. Michelz was 13, his father killed himself.

The experience turned Mr. Michelz into a skeptical person who did not trust easily. He developed a keen sense for when adults were being sincere — and when they were not.

“I sought out anything that was real,” he said.

News and popular culture — and by extension politics — felt fake. One day something was true, and the next day it was not. He remembers seeing something on TV that said chocolate was bad for you. The next day there was something that said it was good for you.

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