How Bernie Sanders Can Save the Democratic Party

 

Written by Dominica R. Convertino

Immediately following the New York Primary election on Tuesday, mainstream media outlets have flooded the news cycle with headlines calling (once again) for Bernie Sanders to drop out of the race. Of course, this is an absurd proposition, especially considering the fact that Bernie Sanders has still won 8 out of the last 9 primary and caucus elections on the Democratic side.* Though Sanders and his voters were undoubtedly hoping for another big upset in New York, political observers and party insiders have always known that New York was Hillary Clinton’s to lose (due to the fact that she served two terms as Senator of New York). While a loss for Clinton would have been a devastating blow to the notion of her “inevitability” as the Party’s nominee, a loss for Sanders was always expected in New York. As a result of New York’s strict party registration laws, more than 3 million Independents were excluded from voting in the state’s closed primary on Tuesday. Considering the fact that an overwhelming number of said independents would have voted for Sanders, he still managed to outperform his expectations in New York. Despite this, a very curious trend in this Democratic election cycle continues, where both powerful mainstream media organizations and the leadership of the Democratic Party endlessly attempt to delegitimatize the very-real movement to which Bernie Sanders has given a national voice.

What the Democratic Party seems to be missing is this: This movement is not just about Bernie Sanders; this movement is about affecting real change. Biased headlines and unfounded political attacks cannot undue this movement, for this movement did not come to fruition in spite of rampant political corruption, this movement is a direct response to said political corruption. Sanders’ supporters are perhaps the most passionate of any voters this election cycle, as they recognize a fundamental truth: the current status-quo represents and maintains the intersection of the worst forms of corruption. Moreover, whether it be political, financial, economic, racial, environmental, or social corruption, it can be deduced to one common root: corporate money in politics.

With political efficacy on a steady decline, the American people are beginning to recognize that public policy considerations are no longer made with the public’s interests in mind. Instead, policies are almost-exclusively formulated, by both Democrats and Republicans, based on the interests of their corporate donors, who ensure the election and re-election of our public officials, while granting politicians high-level industry positions and overpaid consulting/speaking fees once they leave public office (a phenomenon known as “the revolving door”). Knowing that this seemingly-indomitable system of corruption plagues our nation, Sanders’ supporters see this election as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to significantly alter the bleak path we are currently headed towards. With unfettered income and racial inequality, global climate change, perpetual wars, and crippling healthcare and educational costs, this year’s presidential election will have lasting implications not just for the United States, but for the world at large.

Additionally, while a significant block of Sanders’ supporters are Independents and party-outsiders (a huge strength in terms of electability in the general election — considering the fact that roughly 42% of Americans identify as Independents), the mainstream media continuously undermines the fact that most of Sanders’ supporters are loyal Democratic voters. By consistently insulting these Democrats for their support of Sanders and his message against the corrupt political/financial system, the party is sending a very clear message: the Democratic Party is no longer the party of the people. This truth should be of pressing concern to the Democratic Party, as they are poised (should Hillary Clinton become the nominee) to not only lose the support of millions of Americans who do not vote based on our binary party system, but they are also on the path to lose millions of Americans who otherwise consider themselves staunch Democrats.

In recent weeks leading up to the primary in New York, Hillary Clinton and her surrogates expressed systematic contempt for Sanders and his movement towards creating a better, more progressive (and frankly, more democratic) Democratic party. By doing so, they have not only offended a core constituency of the Democratic party (prompting many Progressives to completely reject the possibility of supporting Clinton in the general election), but they have also discounted millions of Independents (including Civil Libertarians, Green Party voters, new voters, etc.) who could potentially lead to the revitalization of the Democratic Party under a Sanders Presidency.

Not only has the the Democratic Party establishment effectively alienated millions of Independents, but they have also repeatedly demeaned millennial voters: a necessary constituency for the future viability of the Democratic Party. If the Democratic Party establishment succeeds in its indefatigable attempt to maintain the existing status-quo, not only will it jeopardize the party’s success in this year’s general election, it could jeopardize the future of the Democratic Party altogether.

*The 8 out of the last 9 primary and caucus elections won by Bernie Sanders: (1) Democrats Abroad, (2) Idaho, (3) Utah, (4) Alaska, (5) Hawaii, (6) Washington, (7) Wisconsin, and (8) Wyoming.

How Hillary Clinton Abandoned Flint

Written by Dominica R. Convertino

In the first half of the Democratic primary race, Hillary Clinton’s resounding victories in the nation’s southernmost states (most of which will vote overwhelmingly for the Republican party in November) proved to be advantageous for Clinton, due to the large percentage of African American voters in said primaries. Though Clinton’s Democratic opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders, was personally on the front lines of the Civil Rights movement, even going so far as to get arrested during a protest against racial segregation in the 1960s (around the same time that a young, then-Republican Hillary Clinton worked on the campaign of Barry Goldwater, who famously voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964), many pundits believe that Sanders’ lack of name recognition thwarted his chances of surmounting Clinton’s lead in the black community at such an early point in the race.

During the months leading up to the southern primary elections, Clinton’s political rhetoric shifted strikingly to the left. This new shift in political alignment prompted political observers, comedians, and voters alike to point out the sudden similarities in Clinton’s oratory to that of Bernie Sanders, who is inarguably considered a lifelong progressive. However, almost instantly following the southern primaries, at which point the media and Democratic party establishment desperately attempted to convince the electorate that the primary race had been wrapped up (albeit incredibly prematurely), Clinton’s platform slowly began shifting back towards the center, where the Clintons have remained comfortably throughout the entirety of their political careers. This purposeful-shift to the center effectively signaled to progressives that their suspicion of Clinton running a disingenuous campaign, emulating Bernie Sanders’ social activism for her own political gain, proved entirely accurate.

Perhaps the most notable of Clinton’s rhetorical shifts was that of her invocation of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

Rightfully making headlines all-throughout the world, the crisis that occurred (and is still occurring) in Flint, Michigan (where for nearly two years, an entire city in the United States was literally poisoned through led-contaminated water by Michigan’s Republican-led state government), was continuously referenced by Hillary Clinton in speeches and debates while campaigning in Michigan and throughout the south. Undoubtedly one of the most-frequently used talking points, Clinton’s invocation of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan was likely temporarily-placed at the forefront of her campaign because she knew it would fare well amongst the black community in the South. Interestingly, this accusation of Clinton’s political pandering over the crisis in Flint is not new. In fact, during the southern primaries, many political pundits and reputable outlets noted Clinton’s repeated use of the crisis, by which she strategically (and briefly) placed herself on the front lines of what became to her campaign a convenient national tragedy. To the dismay of progressives everywhere, Clinton is no longer using her megaphone on the campaign trail to bring attention to the Flint water crisis. Flint no longer appears in Clinton’s speeches, and has not been repeatedly referenced since the southern primary elections took place.

In fact, in Clinton’s last victory speech after the southern primaries, not only did she fail to mention the crisis in Flint even once, she then, for the first time, repeatedly referenced the term“rust-belt”, knowing that her challenge in the south was over, and that she now needed to move on to the next battle (you guessed it — in the “rust-belt” states). With this move, Clinton all but completely scrapped any mentioning of Flint, or the devastating effects the Republican-led policies had on the city’s overwhelmingly-black community, let alone how we can ensure restitution for the nearly 100,000 poisoned residents of Flint, or the prevention of future failures of infrastructure and environmental policies throughout this country. In great contrast, Bernie Sanders has consistently mentioned the crisis in Flint, bringing it up in virtually every single speech he has given throughout his campaign since the crisis became nationally known. In fact, just tonight, Sanders spoke about the crisis in Flint, Michigan in an interview with The Young Turks, the largest online news show in the world. Not only has Senator Sanders remained consistent in mentioning the Flint water crisis on the campaign trail, he has gone beyond his opponent’s lip service to the issue, by proposing specific policy measures for raising the necessary tax revenue to invest heavily in the nation’s widespread failing infrastructure. As Sanders points out, the devastating results of the failed policies in Flint are not merely anecdotal to our great state of Michigan; instead, the entirely-preventable tragedy of Flint is a sign for what is yet to come in municipalities all throughout the United States, if we allow politicians to simply use the issue when it is politically advantageous to do so, and not demand actual policy changes.

To most Americans, it is plausible that this change in rhetoric goes largely unnoticed; however, for close political observers, Clinton’s change after the southern primaries was grindingly unsubtle. This almost-immediate shift in policy focus undoubtedly makes it hard for progressives to believe that many of Clinton’s newly-adopted policies will remain at the top of her list of priorities, should she eventually end up in the White House. While the American people once again find themselves entirely unenthused with the political process, due to the aforementioned game of political pandering, Senator Bernie Sanders seems to be the obvious (and sole) exception to this trend of politicians drastically switching campaign messages in order to pander to certain demographics of voters. Sanders, whose inspiring message has remained virtually-immutable for nearly four decades, talks about the same issues that face this nation, regardless of the race, gender, or geographical location of the voters to whom he is speaking. Perhaps it is time that more candidates begin to follow this trend of impassioned public service, as opposed to offensive pandering in a cheap attempt at securing power.

 

Why Hillary Clinton Is Not Entitled to Bernie Sanders’ Supporters

Written by Dominica R. Convertino

 

Throughout the last few weeks, mainstream media outlets and political pundits alike have incessantly derided the many supporters of Bernie Sanders who claim that they will not be voting for Hillary Clinton in November, should she win the Democratic nomination. Pundits argue that if they effectively fail to rally behind Hillary, Bernie’s supporters will be to blame in November if Donald Trump is subsequently elected. Here is why the pundits are definitively wrong, and why this rhetoric is not only misleading, but incredibly offensive to the democratic process:

First, let me preface this argument by pointing out that this entire debate over whether or not Bernie’s supporters should throw their weight behind Clinton in the general election is (intentionally) misleading, as it maintains an underlying assumption that Hillary Clinton is the inevitable Democratic nominee; an assumption that we have been force-fed for years by both the media and operatives of the Democratic Party. Despite the incredible efforts to push this narrative, millions of Americans continue to outright-reject the “inevitability” of Hillary Clinton, and have been doing so long before Bernie Sanders (who is undoubtedly an inspiring alternative to Clinton) stepped into the race. By focusing on whether or not the supporters of Bernie Sanders would be willing to vote for Hillary Clinton as a potential-nominee not only sets the stage for the media to act as if the primary race has somehow been decided, but it forces progressive figures (who otherwise wholeheartedly support Bernie Sanders in the primary) to needlessly pledge their support to Hillary Clinton for the general election, effectively shifting the narrative.

Rather than falling victim to this purposefully-deceptive framing that has been perpetuated by both the media and the Clinton campaign, voters must remember: we are not currently in a general election; we are in a primary election. Additionally, we are not currently deciding between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump; we are currently deciding between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. So, it raises the question: why would any rational political observer believe that Bernie’s supporters should simultaneously pledge their hypothetical, future-support to the candidate who they are clearly trying to prevent?

 

Second, it is fallacious to assume that those who are claiming “Bernie or Bust” (i.e. those who refuse to rally behind Clinton if Bernie is not the nominee) are staunch Democrats to begin with. It is even more fallacious to believe that Hillary Clinton is somehow entitled to the support of Bernie’s voters, just by her very nature of running for President as a Democrat. Bernie is posing such a significant threat to Clinton and the Democratic Party establishment because of the fact that he is able to effectively accomplish something that Hillary Clinton has proven time and time again that she cannot: expanding the base of the Democratic Party. Throughout the last few months, it has become increasingly more clear that Bernie Sanders is succeeding precisely because he is bringing in new voters to the Democratic Party’s primary elections, including (but certainly not limited to) first-time voters, Independents, moderate Republicans, Civil Libertarians, Green Party voters, and the politically disenfranchised. It is arguable that these Bernie supporters, who by many accounts do not consider themselves to be bogged down by a staunch alignment to our two-party system (a trend that is becoming increasingly-popular amongst Americans) would not have been Clinton supporters in the first place. In fact, we now know that many of Bernie’s supporters would have instead opted out of voting in their state’s primary elections, had it not been for his presence in the race, which explains the record-breaking voter-turnout in many of the primary elections won by Bernie thus far, and the devastatingly low voter-turnout in the states won by Hillary.

 

Third, to say that Bernie’s supporters have an obligation to vote for Hillary Clinton in a general election assumes that the two candidates are advocating for the same things, which is objectively false. While Hillary has made it clear that the objective of her potential presidency would be to maintain already-existing policies, she has also made it clear that she is unwilling to fight for significant change, in order to avoid a “contentious debate” with her Republican counterparts. Hillary Clinton, despite all of her recent efforts to emulate Bernie Sanders’ unwavering record of advocating for the people, cannot get past the fact that she is, in many ways, the poster child for the corrupt system which Bernie is arguing to reform. In recent years, the American people have caught on to the fact that it is no longer just the Republican Party that participates in a corrupt political and financial system, but that establishment, corporate-funded Democrats like Hillary Clinton and the head of the DNC, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, are in many ways just as culpable in terms of perpetuating the existing-system of political corruption.

Lastly, rather than arguing for Bernie’s wide-range of political supporters to compromise on the most fundamental, uniting idea that they stand for in this election (changing the corrupt political/campaign finance system that plagues this nation — and all of the subsequent issues that occur precisely because of that corrupt system) by asking them to pledge support to Hillary Clinton, perhaps we should instead flip the script and ask Hillary Clinton supporters to grant their support to arguably the best Democratic candidate in modern political history, Bernie Sanders. Out of all of the candidates on both sides in this election, Bernie Sanders is unequivocally considered the most liked, the most electable, the most ideologically-consistent, and the biggest advocate for the interests of the American people. So, perhaps we should ask ourselves: why is the Democratic Party trying so hard to elect a candidate who the American people have so consistently and so resoundingly rejected, at the expense of a Democratic candidate who the people so desperately want? If the Democratic party establishment is unwilling to listen to the will of their voters, then they deserve the uncertainty that a Clinton nomination brings, for Hillary Clinton’s immeasurable weaknesses as a presidential candidate are not the fault of Bernie Sanders’ supporters, but her own.