This is a Presidential election like no other, the culmination of years of actions by both major parties in conjunction with a revolution in media, both in coverage and choices available. As of press time in mid-May, the two major parties have as their front runners two of the most unpopular candidates ever to be in that position.
On the Repub side Trump is the last man standing for a party that is reaping the harvest of their own making. Commentators were laughing a year ago at the notion of a President Trump. No more.
On the Democrat side, what was assumed to be a coronation of the heir apparent Hillary Clinton has now been challenged by, of all things, a 74-year old Democratic Socialist Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, who has ignited a firestorm of idealism by charting a new course away from the status quo.
Young people, who after all, have the biggest stake in this election, have been drawn to the possibility of a different, more equitable future based on principles already embraced by much of the rest of the world: a valuing of educational availability and healthcare for all. Or as I like to see it, and as the Constitution says: to “Promote the General Welfare.”
Someone said to me the other day, “Imagine what this election would have been like if Bernie hadn’t run.” It really brought me up short, and then gave me a perspective on how important this last year has been. Think about it. This is not a case like 2008, when we were infused with hope at this fresh faced young Senator from Illinois who would sweep in and relieve us from the eight years of George W. Bush; where the Democrats were the logical solution to our problems. What we see now, much to the discomfiture of many mainstream Democratic party members, is a genuine insurgency saying “No, what you are offering is not enough!”
An awareness has grown with the Sanders campaign that is not just providing a political education both in what we want and how to fight to get it. It’s also providing social connections among the thousands of volunteers and staff who have found personal growth through purposeful work. How the next months play out remains unknown, how the convention in Philadelphia goes and whether “super-delegates” remain loyal to Clinton or are swayed by Sanders’s growing popularity, and what impact and role Bernie will have in the platform and at the podium. He has some serious decisions to make, the gravity of which I am sure will weigh heavy on him and Jane. And then we all have decisions to make, too. Those decisions will be pretty clear come October and that first week of November.
While the Repubs have been at the forefront of fear mongering, be it fear of terrorists, of immigrants, of LGBT rights, of socialism; whatever they choose to see as a threat to their “values,” there has appeared in recent weeks some serious fear mongering by Democrats at the specter of President Trump. And I agree this is nothing to be taken lightly, he is a carnival con-man with an unmatched public record of horrible behavior.
But to those who seem to think that the Sanders campaign should just give up and fall in line behind Hillary, I and many others say no, this campaign is not over yet. Many of us feel that the Clinton record on Foreign Policy is dreadful and we don’t mean Bengazi; we mean Honduras, Libya, her friendship and cozy relations with Henry Kissinger. And many of us feel that Bernie Sanders would be a stronger candidate against a loose cannon like Trump, that Clinton has so much baggage and inconsistencies that voter turnout would be lowered everywhere, and negate gains that could be made with an energized Sanders campaign in the House and Senate.
So yes, we can enjoy the Repubs squirming at what their style and tactics have given birth to. But it is too early to give up on the biggest and best opportunity we are likely to have in shifting the course of this nation toward more humane practices at home and out in the world. It is a fight we have been way too lax in fighting, decades late. But with luck and solidarity it has started, and it is up to all of us with a conscience to keep it burning, through the convention, through the election, and, if we get a President Sanders, beyond. It’s what good citizens are supposed to do in whatever way they can.
Thank you, Bernie Sanders.