At the start of last year, the s-word was still a serious taboo in US politics and across its fiercely divided society. Yes, you’re right – the s-word we were all thinking of. ‘Socialism,’ of course. This year’s presidential election campaign seems to be changing this, however.
Over recent months, Democrat presidential election hopeful Bernie Sanders has run a campaign with a level of dynamism that has certainly surprised America’s people. The iconic Vermont Senator’s chances of winning the Democrat nomination have risen considerably, and his credibility as a potential US president is always on the up.
Running against Hillary Clinton, who has the power of a former president husband, her gender, and her huge profile to boast, was never going to be simple. But pollsters reveal that the gap between Clinton and Sanders is growing narrower each day. Sanders’ collection of delegates from all over the States is impressive for someone whose chances were vehemently dismissed by the press just a few months ago.
Many have suggested, and quite rightly so, that his intervention in this presidential election will change US politics forever. Even if Sanders does not win the Democrat nomination in a few weeks’ time, he will have done so only very narrowly. The rise in support for his campaign, based on highly liberal and socialist policies, has proven that there is a massive section of the electorate that has been failed until Sanders’ emergence. Bernie Sanders is constructing an entirely new and exciting political movement.
With such rampant support for Hillary, it seems that the loveable Bernie Sanders may not make the nomination. But his socially democratic politics has united a wide spread of voters, showing that there is support for politicians further to the left of Barack Obama. Are we seeing, dare I say, the creation of an American left-wing? Is America’s age-old capitalism, which defines the nation, being questioned?
To an extent, it seems so. Sanders’ campaign has had innumerable, previously unimaginable successes. Support for policies such as increasing tax rates, the legalisation of marijuana, the abolition of nuclear weapons, minimal military intervention abroad, and intense restriction of gun ownership, amongst others, has seen an unprecedented rise of late.
Nothing says ‘community’ more than the astonishing public mandate Sanders would have for his presidency. All but a minuscule part of Sanders’ campaign has been financed directly by citizens, with almost no corporate donations, unlike that of the similarly – but in many ways differently – divisive Republican candidate Donald Trump. Whilst still impressively stirring political opinions, Sanders’ rallies have a gripping but party-like atmosphere. With chances of real representation, vast numbers of Americans are becoming politically engaged, seeing that true socialism is what Sanders advocates for.
The fact that Bernie Sanders is pioneering the new American left must be rather overwhelming. But it must not be feared. Sanders’ campaign is revealing passionate feelings that have been suppressed in past Democrat campaigns. By apathy and fierce denial by the party, the left-wing electorate has been kept relatively non-existent. Until now, prospects of a more socialist type of American dream seem – one day – achievable. Sanders has shown that he isn’t only a protester and a critic. His constructive politics and such a far-reaching citizen-driven campaign has served him well.
As right-wing populism is flourishing around the world – and certainly in America with the rise of Donald Trump – it is easy to see why a left-wing opposition of the same type would materialise. A response to the down-to-earth politics of Trump, Sanders has succeeded in creating a straight-talking and anti-establishment socialist force. Politics in many countries is becoming polarised, and the USA is no exception. In addition, with such a radical Donald Trump, it is widely argued that the left needs to be adopt a similar strategy. Governments at all levels are becoming more radical, more anti-establishment, and more straight-talking.
With considerable momentum, it is clear that Bernie Sanders is the true maker of America’s new left. Perhaps many will not admit it, but he is the one responsible for recovering so many forgotten opinions and giving light to an increasingly vibrant left-of-centre electorate.
The nation’s political society has the potential for a huge shift in policy over coming years. With such mammoth force, this new source of politics will not die out any time soon, and Sanders’ new crusade will be instrumental in holding the likely new President Clinton to account. Bernie Sanders has highlighted like never before that America is in need of a new left, something that could in the future cause a great rift within the Democrat party. Sanders may not win the nomination against Clinton in a few weeks’ time, but no one can forget what he has only started in American politics.