Bernie Sanders has gone much further than anyone expected.
The Vermont Senator had been written off from the political pundits, media commentary and most of the American establishment from the get-go. However, the support has not faltered and The Bern does not seem to be stopping anytime soon.
The Bernie Sanders crusade is not simply about the win – but more about the movement. He has admitted that it is less about selecting a presidential candidate and more about raising the issues that matter to ‘the people’. His gush of support, albeit smaller than Clinton’s, has raised questions about the structure of the American political system and the Presidential race.
Most commentators had identified his strength’s a mere product of Hillary Clinton’s weaknesses – her inability to connect with the youth voters, her friendly hugs and smiles with the wealthy powers of Wall Street, and simply the fact she seems to be riding on the back-end of Obama’s wave.
Most, if not all of these commentators have had to retract their words – many have admitted to overlooking Bernie Sanders.
Of course, most Sanders critics are still pointing to the cold, hard numbers and saying he stands no chance of winning the Democratic nomination. After Super Tuesday – when the greatest number of states hold their primary elections back in February – Clinton seemed to have it in the bag.
Since then, Clinton’s delegate count has remained impressive in the face of Sanders’ smaller, symbolical wins. The big surprise arrived after a massive win for the Sanders campaign in Michigan. The success there was doubly important; the delegates he won kept him well in the race, but more importantly it gave an emotive shove to any non-believers.
His success since then has been very similar, more symbolic than statistically promising. Sanders’ ability to inspire the grass-roots communities has been his success so far. One thing it has shown is that he will be able to stay in the race up until the end.
Some friends have compared the Bernie Sanders’ campaign to that of the Green Party in the UK They make good points, they have inspiring projects, but their inability to compete with ‘the big dogs’ means people who would support them prefer to ‘use their vote more efficiently’.
There is one big difference with Bernie Sanders however, he has been able to project his voice much louder than any ‘outsider’ so far (apart from Trump, I guess).
Bernie is a self-proclaimed “Democratic Socialist”. His policy ideas focus more on the long-term outcomes than the right-now or the 2016-2020 timespan. This has given a reason to a whole chunk of the American population to get involved in the political process.
The Sanders campaign can be said to be rooted in the ‘Voters of Tomorrow’. Disillusioned voters had fallen off the ‘electorate map’. Now, by raising unconventional arguments he is re igniting interest in politics. Sadly, this effect is similar within the Trump movement.
Both Sanders and Trump’s very existence on the political field have challenged the watered down political system in the USA. Until now, the term ‘progressive’ – whether Republican or Democrat – had been frowned upon. Both are rallying supporters that have been let down by their parties. Subsequently, both candidates are seen as a threat to a large part of their parties’ base.
Also, Sanders’ and Trump have questioned what it means to run for president. The large support for these ‘unconventional’ candidates symbolises the electorate’s irritation of the old switcheroo of Presidents.
It seems the system demands the candidates follow a specific script to claim their run for the presidency, where whoever expresses the script more convincingly will be elected to the White House. It’s as if the presidential position is a box where the candidates must fit into, rather than create their own box.
Obama had started to do this, and in some people’s eyes he has achieved to create his own “presidential box”. To others, his eight-year quest for change shows us exactly how the American political system is a factory producing identically formatted bullshit.
Obama’s wonderfully grandiose plans for healthcare, gun control and peace have been gutted to their core. Yes, Obama’s efforts have been inspiring, Yes, Obama has achieved some historical decisions such as the Iran Nuclear deal, reinstating Cuban relations, overcoming the worst economic crisis in living memory.
But some of his more liberal projects have been squandered – Obamacare lives up to barely 50% of expectations from true healthcare reform, gun control is stalled and whilst troops have been leaving the Middle East, no one can admit that the war is over.
Most of it is not even Obama’s fault, but the geopolitical developments which no one person can control. However, it seems the structure of the political system in the USA has had its fair share of influence.
It is no surprise that the American people have been disillusioned in the political processes of the last 21st century. However, it seems Sanders and his call for “revolution” is revitalising this political apathy. The Bern has pressed on truly existential questions of society, mobilising historic non-voters. So maybe – probably – Bernie Sanders won’t win, but what his supporters can hope for is that he makes as much noise as possible whilst he’s still in it.
The loud voice of The Bern can raise previously-dismissed issues so that whoever does win will be forced to address them, possibly changing the face of American politics once and for all.