Sunday, 21 February 2016

#FeelTheBern - Why I’d Vote for Bernie Sanders

by Lauren Robson-Skeete

In the midst of the continual media hysteria surrounding Donald Trump's presidential campaign and his outlandish ‘policies’, the beginning of the caucuses have signified that ostensibly the fight for the next US presidency will be focused around Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump. The results of the republican Iowa caucus with Ted Cruz winning momentarily brought some comfort (if you can call it that due to Cruz’s policies being suitably radical enough for Trump) as the favourite, Trump, failed to win the vote (although only marginally - Cruz 28%, Trump 24%). Optimistically suggesting that the voters saw past the facade of Trump and had turned to a slightly more ‘moderate’ candidate. Worryingly, however, the New Hampshire caucus portrayed a different picture with Trump revelling in the republican win with 35% and thus the hope that Trump losing would become a regularity was wishful thinking, particularly as Jeb Bush has already conceded his campaign opening up even more scope for Trump in the process.

Interestingly, when analysing recent 2016 Gallup polls it is unsurprising to note the correlation between the results of the Iowa and New Hampshire caucuses. The poll asked “what do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?” and 70% of Americans felt the biggest concerns were non-economic problems. This encompassed a realm of topical issues including dissatisfaction with the government, immigration, national security, terrorism, healthcare, racism, education, crime, poverty, and ISIS all featuring in the top ten. Moreover, when questioned “who would best handle these problems, the democrats or republicans?”, the republicans came out on top with 42% compared to 37% to the democrats. Thus, the increasing enormity of these issues offers some explanation to the rise of Trump as typically throughout history those feeling discontent towards the government often turn to the most radical candidate promising to eradicate the qualms of the current flawed system with a new approach. Indeed, what seems apparent amongst all of the front runners, both republicans and democrats, is that they attract voters who desire profound change with the dominating theme of social issues becoming increasingly important. But crucially, this is also where the tangible difference lies. Despite Trump’s current support, I envisage this to dwindle when people become more aware and informed of the other candidates policies, or lack of in the case of Donald Trump.  Thus, it will be implausible for Trump to achieve victory as he may talk a persuasive, albeit strange game that appeals to the ever-shrinking group left unoffended by his distinctly controversial speeches, but even so, when it comes to his actual policies on how he will tackle issues such as immigration and ISIS he has no firm credibility as they bear no credentials and his supporters will be left disappointed. Therefore, it is the likes of Bernie Sanders who emerges as the strongest contender to become the next US president as his progressive approach targets the fundamental issues facing America today which is quickly leaving Hillary Clinton behind.

Unfortunately for Hillary Clinton I predict it will be another repeat of her failed 2008 presidential campaign as it bears a striking resemblance. Back then, she was the frontrunner and Obama was the new face with less political experience and it appears that Bernie is set to replace Obama in her 2016 campaign, nonetheless it will still be fiercely contested. Critically, it is important to examine why Hillary did not win in 2008, and why she will fail to win again in 2016. Most notably, her 2008 campaign was overshadowed by the rise of Obama and her decision to vote in support of military action in Iraq in 2002 proved costly. Similarly, her 2016 campaign has recently been clouded by negative association with Wall Street adding to the lack of trust felt by voters whom 53% have an ‘unfavourable’ view of Hillary (as conducted by a pollster poll). Therefore, for the democrats Hillary poses herself as a liability and it is because of this that it highly likely that Bernie Sanders will become the next president.

The progressive and consistent stance of Sanders on the most vital issues in America is the key to his success that will lead to a victory. He has a long history of supporting black rights and social equality that dates back to the 1960s, a particularly poignant issue in America, which he addressed powerfully in a recent ad campaign featuring Erica Garner. This undoubtedly sets him apart from the other candidates as he has been the most vociferous about this fundamental issue which many will sympathise with 

 Equally, he is a strong ally of the LGBT community, something that cannot be said for Hillary who up until 2013 opposed gay marriage and this reversal in opinion, although welcomed, seems slightly too convenient in the run up to her 2016 campaign. As well as this, in a money centred campaign system, his decisive move to not accept money from billionaires and his grassroots approach yet again sets him apart, especially as four out of five of Hillary’s donors since 1999 are Wall Street firms. Economically, Sander’s advocates reforming the systems that perpetuate inequality such as the criminal justice system, and creating more well-paid jobs coupled with removing tax loopholes and focusing on reforming the tax system so multinational corporations no longer get away with avoiding tax. Despite, what appear to be clearly focused policies Chelsea Clinton (daughter of Hillary Clinton) recently denounced Sander’s policies for being unachievable, however, I would argue that Hillary is too moderate and in such a diverse country progressive goals will create a greater impact than being overly moderate to secure safe votes. A vote for Bernie Sanders, is a vote for a progressive agenda that will set to tackle the paramount issues America currently faces from a largely bottom-up perspective, by a man who has consistently demonstrated his stance on such problems and this is unparalleled by the other candidates and why Bernie would get my vote.

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