Bernie Sanders could push Democrats left


Ben Borrok, Senior Writer

Senator Bernie Sanders has thrown his hat into the highly contested Democratic race to face U.S. President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Despite an overwhelming number of candidates, until Sanders announced this past week, there had been no clear front-runner. Establishment Democrats like Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar have gained some attention, but with rather reserved and unexciting policies. Elizabeth Warren has pushed more progressive policies but embroiled herself in a Native American DNA test fiasco which has damaged her standing with voters. As a result, many are undecided on who to pledge their support. With Sanders’ introduction to the fight, he brings experience along with an impassioned youth support base. Within 24 hours of the announcement, his campaign had raised $5.9 million from 225,000 online donors in a clear display of his ability to corral his supporters.


While memories of his unsuccessful 2016 campaign may haunt Sanders on this election cycle, it will be hard for his opponents to deny his policies’ popularity and his charismatic likability. Recent polling found that his favorability among Democrats is 74-13, far higher than any other current candidate. While he is not particularly popular among independents, the Vermont senator ranks far higher than Trump, who would be his eventual opponent if he succeeds in the primaries. Following a midterm election that saw a “blue wave” flood the nation with progressives such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib, it would seem logical to follow the trend when gunning for the presidency. Yet, centrist Democrats continue to undermine Sanders’ attempts, despite his evident momentum. Prior to his campaign announcement, candidates were attempting to avoid a full embrace of Medicare for All, despite its popularity with voters. In addition, marginal tax rates – despite their 60 percent approval rating with all Americans – have largely been unaddressed in campaign promises thus far. Bernie Sanders changes all of that, as candidates can no longer ignore these policies that are central to his campaign.


His involvement forces necessary questions and will keep fellow Democrats focused on policy. While 2016 resulted in tit for tat between Hillary Clinton and Trump, Sanders held true to his speeches on wealth inequality and oppression in the United States. Earlier this week, Sanders also made it clear that he was expecting policy-based debate from other candidates, a sign that he is looking to take charge of this cycle. Currently holding 27 percent of the Democratic voter share, others are going to have to move his way in terms of progressiveness if they want a realistic chance of being crowned the Democratic candidate. 2016, if anything, proved that an appeal to establishment Democrats and center-right Republicans was not a successful method to the presidency. The result was disenfranchised youth and an embarrassing election loss to a man who struggles to create coherent sentences on policy. Stooping to Trump’s level or conceding popular policy positions to avoid criticism from his Twitter handle will only make the chance to win back the White House even worse.


For years, Democrats have worried more about how Republicans would view their actions, rather than how the constituents would react. Bernie Sanders has made it clear that he is no-nonsense while constantly fighting against the negative connotations of ‘socialism,’ which has resulted in a refreshing campaign. Sanders leads the pack, and if anyone wants a piece of him, they better start listening to the people.


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