OP-ED: The Sanders revolution is here to stay
There is so much excitement over Hillary Clinton reaching the magic number of delegates to become the Democratic candidate, that many of her supporters seem to have closed their eyes to an undeniable reality: Bernie Sanders and the grassroots movement he inspired are not going away any time soon.
That, by the way, it’s a very good thing. And not only because the millions of people who were moved by the Vermont senator’s legitimate aspirations of social justice, economic fairness and honest politics deserve to be heard, but also because they will be the future of the Democratic Party —or its demise.
Considered a “fringe” candidate, few expected Sanders, a democratic socialist from a small state, to go very far in his presidential campaign. Now, despite having lost the nomination to
Clinton, no one would call his candidacy “fringe” any more.
After all he won an astounding 10 million votes, 20 primaries and 1,500 pledged delegates and he did it all with no big donors but only with grassroots fundraising. It was this integrity, a quality as rare in politics as snow in August, that brought the 74-year old Sanders the passionate support of a record-breaking 71 percent of voters under 30, according to a Tufts University analysis.
Many traditional Democrats try to diminish the fact that Sanders is the most popular presidential candidate among young people ever, by accusing them of being naïve, inexperienced or —listen to this— anachronistic.
“The kids’ view is so 1960s that it’s laughable,” told me a usually well informed friend, seemingly blinded, like many others, by his devotion to Clinton.
My friend’s phrase is a classic example of the condescending attitude toward young people of many Clinton backers. Their lack of vision could prove fatal for the party.
Yet it should be obvious that at time of abysmal inequality, a bleak economic outlook, and a disastrously non-functional Washington, young people will embrace the only candidate offering a different kind of politics and with it, a better future. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize that voters, young or old, will choose the candidate they feel will be more responsive to their needs and aspirations, and will empower them at a moment when practically all political power is concentrated in the hands of the 1 percent.
Sanders remarkable success clearly shows the party base has moved to the left, forcing Clinton herself to sprinkle her message with some progressive rhetoric about campaign finance reform, the minimum wage, Wall Street reform and other issues dear to Sanders and his supporters.
That in itself is a major Sanders achievement.
The Democratic Convention, which will be held in Philadelphia in July, will see Sanders and his supporters push to have things like tuition-free college, Medicare for all, the $15 minimum wage, Wall Street reform and other of his proposals become part of the Democratic Party platform.
Democratic bigwigs must understand they should not close the doors to Sanders and his proposals because, even if he lost to Clinton, the youth movement he inspired could be the future of the party —or its demise.