WASHINGTON — Will Bernie Sanders become the Democratic Party's presidential nominee, challenging Donald Trump in November? The 78-year-old self-described democratic socialist–a term not very easy to explain– has seized the commanding position by extending his coalition beyond his devoted Generation Z supporters.
Sanders has not only solidified his position as a front runner but has also increased some Democrats' fears of a possible electoral disaster come November. Those who still think that Sanders will be a calamity for the party are moderates and the Democratic establishment that has never liked the disruptive, headstrong senator. But as the race has so far demonstrated, there's no denying Sander's huge appeal.
Andrew L. Stern, former president of the Service Employees International Union, explained: "The party has shifted to the left, and I don't think many of the more traditional, legacy leaders of the party got it. The good news for Bernie Sanders is, he's like a broken clock. He's been in the same place for 35 or 40 years in terms of his positions, and the times have found him."
Sanders does not only promise jobs, but he also wants to save the planet. There's something very tender about the manner in which young Americans relate to the 78-year-old senator from Vermont with a heavy Brooklyn accent. They identify with him, putting their trust into the hands of a white-haired man who, four years ago, got crushed by Hillary Clinton's war machine. In 2016, Clinton stopped Sanders from winning the nomination with the help of the Democratic National Committee. In the end, she lost the election against Donald Trump, throwing the nation under a bullying presidency.
The Sanders movement resemble the determination of the young Hong Kong protesters.
After three years of the loud, nonsensical, rude, racist and egocentric Donald Trump in the Oval Office, the younger generations have strengthened their conviction in their choice. Always a solitary fighter, Sanders hasn't changed his political vision. He sticks firmly to the democratic values that have been crushed by authoritarian regimes around the world, the current American administration included. His firm faith in those values has only earned him stronger support from young voters, who view Sanders as the only chance for their future.
The struggle and hope of the Sanders movement resemble the determination of the young Hong Kong protesters, who went into the streets ready to fight and even give their lives for autonomy from China, protecting their small island from Chinese despotism. Sanders' supporters are similar in their fight for their future and the future of the planet. Compared to the Hong Kong protestors, young Sanders fans are in a better position as they have not (yet) been physically persecuted. They do not need to go into the streets to fight for their freedom. Young Americans are free to vote, they just want to ensure that their vote won't be wasted, that it can secure their future. In many conversations with Bernie voters, I sensed a strong determination within them to exercise their constitutional rights and give democracy a chance.
Another thing is certain; almost no one who belongs to this young and politically pure generation will ever vote for Michael Bloomberg. The billionaire is considered to be a corporate candidate and therefore the enemy of angry youth who feels they are stuck with a gloomy future. They will not vote for Bloomberg, even if this means losing the election to Trump. For them, Bloomberg and Trump are cut from the same cloth.
Mike Bloomberg on Feb. 1 — Photo: Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons
Is it political suicide or just pure idealism to hope that the entire country will wake up on November 3rd and say No to Trump, massively supporting Sanders? Is the young generation ready to take to the streets if Trump wins again? Do these young voters know that, according to pollsters and analysts, Sanders has no chance of getting more than 30 percent of the delegates that can nominate the winner of the primaries and therefore the Democratic presidential nominee?
Even after Sanders' triumph in Nevada, where he earned votes across the entire electoral body, experts are declaring that someone who calls themselves a socialist will never, ever get the support of the majority of the country. If this is true, then Sanders alone cannot win the nomination and challenge Trump. The same goes for the Democratic candidates who are trailing behind Sanders. The party's convention in Milwaukee is therefore set to become the venue for an extremely important battle for the American future. It will also be considerably chaotic when the convention decides who to nominate as the candidate who will go on to challenge Trump. And yet, four years ago, very few of us predicted that Trump would win. We have six months to go and this time, many more voices are saying that Sanders could be a surprise nominee.
Sanders thinks that energy and excitement are essential for victory. We may have a clearer picture on Tuesday, where primaries in 12 different states could show where Bloomberg and everybody else stands.The Democratic party bureaucrats are still not very hot about the old man. Some people hold the opinion that people like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and other key Democratic figures should step behind Sanders and endorse him soon.
Then there's James Carville, an old age political hawk, who, after the Iowa caucus screamed from the bottom of his lungs: "The only thing, the only thing between the United States and the abyss is the Democratic Party. That's it. If we go the way of the British Labour Party, if we nominate Jeremy Corbyn, it's going to be the end of days. So I am scared to death, I really am."
What if there aren't really American swing voters?
It sounded dramatic and exaggerated. But it is also true. The problem is that we already live in a world that Donald Trump defines as "post-true," a world in which "alternative facts" and lies are as good as the facts, principles, and values. Carville is the Democrat and campaign strategist who put Bill Clinton in the Oval office. He too was convinced that Clinton would change America into a more righteous country and perhaps, for this reason, missed seeing Barack Obama surfacing. We do not know what cards the 75-year-old political analyst is playing in this game, but one thing is certain, without mentioning his name, Carville made space for Michael Bloomberg with his outcry:
"We have one moral imperative, and that's to beat Donald Trump. The fate of the world depends on the Democrats getting their shit together and winning in November. We have to beat Trump. And so far, I don't like what I see. And a lot of people I talk to feel the same way."
What if, as Rachel Bitecofer, part of a new generation of political analysts, says: "Everything you think you know about politics is wrong? What if there aren't really American swing voters — or not enough, anyway — to pick the next president? What if it doesn't matter much who the Democratic nominee is? What if there is no such thing as "the center," and the party in power can govern however it wants for two years, because the results of that first midterm are going to be bad regardless? What if the Democrats' big 41-seat midterm victory in 2018 didn't happen because candidates focused on health care and kitchen-table issues, but simply because they were running against the party in the White House? What if the outcome in 2020 is pretty much foreordained, too?"
Bitecofer says that it's obsolete to claim that the pool of American voters is basically fixed: that about 55 percent of eligible voters are likely to go to the polls and the winner is determined by the 15 or so percent of "swing voters" who flit between parties. And that the general election campaign amounts to a long effort to pull those voters to your side.
It is now true, claims Bitecofer, that with the polarization in America that began with the appearance of the Tea Party in 2010, the concept of negative partisanship has evolved. Today, voters are more motivated by defeating the other side than by any particular policy goals. Bitecofer explains: "In the polarized era, the outcome isn't really about the candidates. What matters is what percentage of the electorate is Republican and Republican leaners, and what percentage is Democratic and Democratic leaners, and how they get activated,"
According to some calculations, millennials and Gen Zers could make up 116 million potential Bernie Sanders voters. Would they also vote for Bloomberg? Someone else? They are all leaning towards the Democrats. If only these young, well-educated individuals would get their asses up and go vote on November 3rd.
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