Here we are, America 2016, in the dead heat of primary season during another American Election cycle. On the Right side of the political spectrum we have the GOP (the party that, for the better part of 100 years, has championed conservatism and free market capitalism), where a loud multi-billionaire has hijacked the party's base of voters. Donald Trump has accomplished this by appealing to the more primal anger voters feel towards a whole host of issues. Many conservative leaning individuals believe the Republican establishment has let this all get out of control and now it may be too late to stop Trump. This strange American Political Theater has played out in dramatic fashion and has largely over shadowed the race on the opposite side.
You wouldn't know it by putting on traditional cable TV news, but the American Democratic Party is splitting at the seams. Secretary Hillary Clinton, the MASSIVE favorite, is in a relatively close race with underdog Senator Bernie Sanders. Sanders is kind of an aberration in modern american politics, he is a true blue, new deal Democrat. At the top of the page here I linked to two quotes from two of America's most famous Liberals. Those quotes accurately sum up Sanders' eccentric political philosophy, but also serve to highlight that it wasn't all that long ago that liberalism thrived in America.
There are plenty of discussions on why American Liberalism died off and became a dirty word, but I am more interested in talking about how it is slowly reawakening and about how it is dividing the political Left.
Let's start with Hillary Clinton. The former first lady has been in the public eye for nearly 30 years. In that time she has served as Senator and Secretary of State. She has also become one of the most well known political figures in America. She and her husband are the most successful and efficient political forces in the country, navigating through scandal and scrutiny alike, they are perhaps America's most famous political couple. Everyone knows the Clinton's and the political establishment more than respects them. While they have often been accused of immoral tactics, they have become a well-oiled machine in the Democratic party, garnering support by coming to the aid of other democrats trying to gain or retain elected positions. Despite being the most famous democrats, they have their critics... mainly liberals. The Clinton's are accused by many liberals as Center-Right Democrats. President Bill Clinton even ran on a platform he lifted from popular conservative ideas.
When Hillary announced her campaign, many of us liberals rolled our eyes and prepared to have to hold our noses while we voted for yet another Moderate, as to avoid the GOP from taking over again. This is what happens if you are liberal in America today. You vote 'D' even though, most of the time, the candidate is closer to the right than than, say, FDR, because it beats going full blown conservative. The Party itself (due in no small part to Bill Clinton) has been dragged away from the left and now solidly represents those ideas from American Moderates. While Liberals have been disenfranchised, we have been very loyal to the party, and the party has done an okay job at placating us in small ways over the years. All that has changed in the last 9 months.
Now, we can go into all sorts of backgrounds about the two Democratic candidates, but the important thing to note in regards to this piece is that, over the course of this primary season, Senator Bernie Sanders has gone from relatively unknown to about equal in national popularity. This has happened slowly due to Sanders pounding the same talking points, these talking points have been primarily focused on the growing plight of the American Middle class. While initially Bernie's success shocked and surprised many mainstream pundits and Hillary's campaign, for the most Liberal members of the Democratic Left, this hasn't been very shocking at all. Liberals have been clamoring for a true Leftist candidate for a long time and Bernie has been the MOST liberal American politician for over 30 years. He was Mayor of Burlington, VT in the 80's as a member of the Socialist party, he has served as an independent in the House since that time. Of course, Liberals quickly fell in line behind Bernie, while moderate, establishment, and less informed democrats quickly supported Clinton. Then something unexpected happened... the youth flocked to Sanders and they still continue to do so. Young American's are proving to be VERY liberal. We can discuss ad nauseam all the reasons there could be for this phenomenon, but the fact remains that young democrats have rejected Clinton for being too moderate and are very loyal, almost cult-like when it comes to Bernie Sanders. This combined with Hillary's baggage has created a nightmare scenario for the DNC.
Lets rewind to the start of the campaign season. Hillary Clinton was expected to run and it was assumed by ALL democrats that she would runaway with the nomination. Democrats did want to see someone strong challenge her, but conventional wisdom told us that no one was going to be able to beat someone so well known and also so qualified. That is why when Bernie Sanders, the little known Independent Senator, announced it was kind of amazing in terms of its novelty.
Since his announcement, Bernie has really exceeded all expectations, but he isn't just trying to push Hillary Clinton more to the left, he is trying to win... And because he is succeeding, he has caused a problem for the Democratic Party, or should I say, he has exposed a problem the Party has created for itself.
The DNC has been behind Hillary Clinton since 2008. When she lost to President Obama, it was shocking, but it was widely assumed she would take over in 2016 to continue a democratic legacy. The Establishment has been gearing up for President Clinton taking over as the first female president for over a decade, but because of this they have sabotaged their own efforts.
Once Bernie began pounding issues like Medicare for All, Free Public College Tuition and Campaign Finance Reform Establishment Democrats were quick to label him crazy, foolish, irresponsible, but by doing so they isolated the liberal base of their party. It has been no secret that the DNC Establishment has had their thumbs on the scale for Hillary. Likewise, the media allows the Clinton's control the narrative in print and on television. All of this has just served to drive Sanders supporters away from Hillary, rather than to her. Hillary's large number of scandals throughout her career has led the young public, who gather their information from the internet, to form a feeling of distrust around the former Secretary. All these shady and unfair practices, as well as the disparaging of Bernie's character, his role as a civil rights activist and his accomplishments as a US Senator have ripped the left wing away from the establishment to the point where BERNIE HAS A BETTER CHANCE IN THE GENERAL ELECTION THAN HILLARY!
The DNC either doesn't realize that the common refrain among the young liberals is "Bern it up or burn it down" or they don't believe it. They seem to be ignoring the possibility that will lose that many voters if Hillary is the nominee, as they still have all their eggs in Hillary's basket. But I have to tell you, they will most likely lose me. Here is why...
As an idealistic 20-something liberal, I am proud to say I have been voting Democrat my whole life. I have been interested in politics since I discovered the Daily Show at 12 years old. Yet, even with all the enthusiasm I had voting for Barack Obama in 2008, I have always longed for a real leftist to run for president. As a young Liberal you learn a lot about JFK and FDR in school and how bold and progressive their views of the world were. When you factor in how popular they were, it's hard to understand why the Democratic party has moved so far away from those ideals. As I got older I understood the need to appeal to the middle and I didn't really question it much, until now.
You see, the DNC has always paid lipservice to the most Liberal of voters. The Moderates have assured Liberals that eventually we will get the change we long for, we just need to be patient and compromise and try to achieve it in small doses. But now, the moment an actual liberal gains real momentum on the National stage and threatens the poster child of the Center-right, Leftist beliefs are disparaged, mocked, ridiculed as childish and labeled as impossible. It has been a wake up call to those who have believed the Democratic party shared our core beliefs!
Senator Sanders isn't running on any outlandish platforms. His policy proposals have all been successfully implemented all over the world and it is the core beliefs of liberal voters that we can achieve these things in America. Yet the moderate-wing, doesn't realize that by insulting Bernie Sanders they have insulted all Liberals. They have mocked the belief system for an entire Liberal-wing that has been so loyal in voting for a constant parade of Moderates that is down right insulting that they expect our vote for a shitty candidate in the General Election. How many times have I heard the phrase 'Party Unity' this cycle? I have lost count, but I do know it is always comes along the lines of 'Oh, Sander's supporters will vote for Hillary, because the stakes are just too high to risk it? Party Unity is important this cycle.' Really? Are you sure about that?
First, Hillary doesn't represent Liberal ideas. She is always behind when it comes to social reform issues, be it gay marriage or civil rights. The policy she has pushed in the past has proven to be in opposition to the country a Liberal political thinker wants to envision, that includes her roll in mass incarceration and problematic trade agreements. Her track record of war hawkish foreign policy, as well as her relationships with some of the most despicable figures in modern American history (Kissinger, Kagan), is also highly suspect to Liberal voters.
Secondly, this election cycle is all about honesty and reform. Hillary Clinton is not transparent. She is not consistent. And she is not honest. We don't know what she said to Wall Street when she made millions of dollars in speaking fees, we don't know what will happen with the 3 separate federal investigations she is under, and we don't know why someone who has made herself so powerful and so rich off the current system would every try and reform it.
It is time for the middle to wake up and to realize that Hillary just isn't a good candidate. If she wins the nomination she will lose to the GOP because many, many liberals won't be there to support her and after all, the DNC need us more than we need them.
If being a Liberal is so horrid that the rest of the party can't imagine a Liberal ever winning a General Election, then liberals should support a party that will. If none exists, then we need to create one. Regardless of that it is certain that the DNC cannot survive with out their liberal base. If they refuse to distinguish themselves from the right, then the Liberal-wing needs to distinguish themselves from the DNC.
So then, why are so many young Liberal voters turning to Trump? Well, at least with Trump (unlike Hillary) you know what you are going to get. Some truly feel it is better to let Trump destroy the system than to let Hillary continue to drag it to the right, maintaining stagnation and status quo. Will I vote for Donald Trump? No, but I won't be voting for Hillary either.
You can accuse me of being selfish here on twitter.