For those who aren’t aware, right now, the Democratic Party in the United States is in the middle of their presidential primary elections, to determine who will be their candidate to go up against Donald Trump in the election this fall.
To quickly catch you up, Joe Biden (previously Vice President to Barack Obama) was long considered the favourite to win the nomination and become the candidate to go against Trump. He led by over 20 per cent in virtually all polls for months.
That is, until recently. Since the individual states have started to hold their primary elections, Bernie Sanders, a Senator from Vermont who previously ran against Hillary Clinton to go up against Trump in 2016, has taken the lead. This has left a lot of people in the mainstream media nervous and confused, as Sanders is seen as a ‘radical’ and ‘unelectable’ by political pundits.
But that brings me to my main point, he’s not. In fact, while the road to beating Trump is going to be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, Sanders is the only candidate running who has any chance of doing so.
When it comes to the issues in the US, Sanders is the only candidate on the right side of a lot of them (and he has been for some time). A famous photo came out from the Chicago Tribune of Sanders in 1963, when he was a student at the University of Chicago, being arrested at a Civil Rights rally.
Sanders also supported one of the first Pride parades in the United States when he was the Mayor of Burlington, Vermont in 1983. He also voted against the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as being only being a man and a woman, that was supported by Bill Clinton, who was the President at the time, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, who was a Senator and even voted for the bill.
But back to the present day. A major point of debate within the party right now is whether the government should guarantee health care for all (like we have here in Canada). Sanders is the only candidate who firmly supports not only implementing Canada-like health care in the US, but going above and beyond, including fully covered dental, vision and prescription drugs coverage as well. Support for universal healthcare is also extremely popular amongst the general American public, with 60 to 70 per cent supporting it according to public opinion polling from The Hill/HarrisX and Pew Research. Given its mass appeal that includes both Republicans and Democrats, it only makes sense to support the candidate that is pushing this as one of, if not the single largest pillar of his platform.
He also has the most comprehensive environmental policy, known as the Green New Deal. The plan includes transforming the American energy system to be 100 per cent renewable, ending all subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, investing $200 billion in fighting climate change globally, on top of billions more domestically. Given the severity and pressing nature of the climate crisis, this type of bold response is exactly what we need to correct our course and save our planet before it’s too late.
He also is an avid supporter of offering tuition-free college and university for all. This is another massive investment program like the Green New Deal that would free over 40 million Americans from their debt, allowing them to save more for their future, invest in their communities, start businesses and so on. It would also provide the opportunity of going to post secondary for a new generation of poor and working class Americans.
While his proposals might sound large and drastic (because they are) the important thing to note is that the people have his back. His campaign was the first in American history to reach one million individual donors. He also continues to raise the most money compared to any other candidate in the race, with $46.5 million raised in the month of February of this year alone, according to Federal Election Commission filings.
But more importantly, he is raising all of this money without taking it from corporations, billionaire donors or super PACs, something that can’t be said for many of the other campaigns. What that means though, besides the fact that he isn’t bought and paid for by the rich to do their bidding, is that his support is organic, coming from real people who choose to give what they can to his campaign, which shows just how strong his grassroots appeal really is.
It’s also important to note that his grassroots support is historically diverse. His supporters, according to a Pew Research poll, is majority-minority, as only 49 per cent of his supporters are white, compared to 56 per cent of Biden supporters and even more for other candidates. He also has the greatest support among LatinX voters and is second only to Biden amongst Black voters (though recently his Black support has been slipping, while Sanders’ has been climbing).
But for many and rightfully so, the most important question to decide who the Democratic candidate should be for President is, ‘who can beat Donald Trump?’ While many argue that Sanders’ positions are too radical to beat Trump in a general election, the polls would say otherwise. According to Real Clear Politics opinion polling, Sanders beats Trump in a head to head match up by nearly 5 per cent, higher than any other candidate besides Biden, who beats him by 5.4 per cent.
But the difference between Sanders and Biden is that Sanders has the support on the ground, while Biden’s is quickly fading. Biden’s national support fell by nearly 10 per cent just this last month according to Real Clear Politics, while Sanders’ went up by over 6 per cent during the same period.
If it wasn’t already, the choice is abundantly clear: Bernie Sanders is the key to taking down Trump. While he has some bold plans and policies that he wants to enact, they are largely supported by the American public, Democrat and Republican alike. He has the support on the ground, the money to back it up and in public opinion polling, not only does he beat Trump but he’s at the top of the pile and surging within the field of Democratic candidates.
With all this evidence (and much, much more) it seems clear that the only one candidate who can bring the US together against Trump and towards a promising future for young people, seniors, the poor, the working class and the environment, is Senator Sanders. Without him, we can all likely expect another four years of President Trump.