Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator, is an enigma. Sanders has been carrying a different kind of American vision that’s labelled as socialist, one that is way opposite to Capitalist America. His supporters campaign and carry the slogan ‘Feel the Bern’ and it’s burning up the Hillary Clinton collection of delegates - from the mid-west caucuses to his wins from Hawaii, Alaska and Washington (Spokane).
Even though it may or may not give Sanders an edge to his journey to the White House, over Clinton, the size of his margins can be disconcerting to Clinton, even though she is poised to do well in her home state of New York on April 19 with its 247 pledged delegates.
Most of his primary-season wins have been in states with largely white populations and in caucus contests, which tend to attract the most active liberal Democrats. He's heavily favoured by younger voters, who were a key part of the coalition that boosted Barack Obama to victory twice. Sanders’ appeal to the younger generation is his future proposal “Free tuitions for students” agenda. Student debt is one of the biggest blocks that young Americans face. The loans they take for schooling is an estimated $1 trillion.
Humphrey, 23, interior design student says, “I will vote for Bernie, coz I want to study and be able to fulfill my ambitions, without having to worry about student loans and debts. I already owe $ 20,000 and I am only in my first year. If I want to continue my education, I will have to take more part-time jobs. And all that is not enough for me to live by or pay my debts.” Other students also state his wholesomeness as someone who is not backed by billionaires and as someone who would bring America to a more middle-class status.
Sanders has made a real impact on the race, especially from a ‘message’ standpoint. Many in the party are crying out for action on what Sanders is pushing — leveling the economic playing field, being tougher on big banks and Wall Street and pushing to get money out of politics. He has raised a fund of $109 million for the first quarter of the year, and 97% of that money was raised online, reports the campaign officials. “Working people standing together are going to propel this campaign to the Democratic nomination and then the White House," he says.
That’s where the grassroots organizing being worked by Bernie supporters in all different fields are playing at – get money out of politics. Recently, Hollywood actor Rosario Dawson endorsed Sanders and campaigned for him on television. She went on to explain why she thinks a grassroots youth movement can change the election. Dawson portrayed this election as one about fighting the status quo and coming together to make big changes.
Working people standing together are going to propel this campaign to the Democratic nomination and then, the White House, says Sanders
“The youth has been on the right side of history on every issue,” Dawson said. “They talked about those hippie college kids when they were protesting against Vietnam. Martin Luther King Jr., who Bernie Sanders walked with, couldn’t have gone and done what he did if it wasn’t for high school students who said, ‘I’m not afraid to do a sit in.'”
The American voters have matured in their choice of candidates on one hand and on the other some have favored billionaire Donald Trump. All with the same hope that America will be ‘Great Again’. Besides the reason, that a Sanders campaign is being funded by his supporters even at grassroot levels and Trump has his own billions. The appeal is not being politically funded and a hope that it would mean cleaner no vested agenda government.
Talk about fertile minds working on the campaign, there is one kickstarter.com that is now collecting funds online to make and sell Bernie Sanders Action Figure dolls, of course they have other Democrat figures too, but on their main page, they say, “Let’s turn Bernie Sanders into an action figure and create a fun new way to get real people and small businesses engaged in politics. For every Bernie doll bought online, the company puts $1 in the fundraiser for Sanders.
So, bringing it down to brass tacks, even if Bernie were to lose eventually to Clinton, the capturing of his voters will hinge on how well she can motivate his passionate and politically active supporters. The issues he's cared about most for the last 40 years — income inequality, regulation of Wall Street banks and power and influence in politics are close to the American heart.
The women are also inclined to support and vote for Bernie, “He is the right candidate. He is a socialist. We need this change. We need women’s rights and be gone with the income inequality.”
What Sanders has done, coming from virtually nowhere, is remarkable and has had an effect on Clinton. She would have preferred to focus on Republicans and likely moderate her message and tone to appeal to the middle. Instead, she's had to look left. He has left an impact and will have a table in White House, unlike those who have lost.
Junorna Giri is newsable.com's editor-at-large, currently living in Kansas City. The views expressed here are her own.
Last Updated 31, Mar 2018, 6:50 PM IST