Bernie Sanders Has Already Won the Heart & Soul of America
It was always a battle of ideas, and on that front, the progressive movement has proven that it has the power of the people on its side.
In 2016, both the GOP and Democratic fields were crowded. Obama was ending his eight-year term in office, and both sides of the political aisle were revving up their campaign engines to make a gun for the White House.
Bernie Sanders was a relatively unknown, Democratic Socialist from Vermont, possessing a long career as a senator that had been largely marginalized — or outright ignored — by his colleagues on Capitol Hill.
No one took him seriously as a contender. Not the media, not the pundits, not the other party insiders.
When the race began, he was polling in the single-digits.
According to popular opinion at the time, he was a political Mr. Nobody that no one believed could change his polling numbers, much less the entire U.S. political discourse.
What everyone didn’t know was that Bernie Sanders was a sleeping giant, and that giant was about to resonate deeply with America’s youth and disillusioned mass of apathetic voters who were waiting for someone to take a stand against America’s entrenched, wealthy elite.
By the end of that race, he had awoken a movement that rocketed him to a second-place position in the Democratic primaries and that would continue to remain with him regardless of whether or not he won the nomination.
Fast-forward to 2020, and it’s clear that, after all this time, the progressive movement has proven that it will soldier on, with or without a Sanders presidency.
Bernie’s policies — most notably Medicare for All — enjoy widespread, popular support among the public. This is largely due to an army of grassroots volunteers that have done a great job raising awareness about the need for such policies among America’s rank-and-file voters.
With coronavirus prevention measures in full effect across the nation, more people are beginning to pay attention to the deficiencies in our healthcare system — and the people who want to do something about it.
A battle of political fisticuffs is sure to erupt in Washington over how to handle the public health crisis now facing the nation, and how best to prepare for it’s short and long-term economic impacts.
Sanders has made it demonstrably clear that he intends to remain true to his decades-long commitment to fight for the average, ordinary, working American during this crisis.
And his movement is right there with him.
Even amidst a pandemic, his campaign continues to raise money to help those most disadvantaged by COVID-19 and volunteers are offering their time to make Solidarity Calls, which urge people to get behind Bernie’s proposed relief legislation — a $2 trillion public bailout that would put $2,000/month into the bank accounts of America’s working-class citizens.
It may or may not be too late for Sanders to secure the Democratic nomination. There are still a lot of variables at play, and speculation seems to be akin to gambling at this point.
It’s possible that by forcing the media to put a spotlight on America’s healthcare system and a working-class that is totally vulnerable in times of crisis, COVID-19 will unintentionally aid Sanders by convincing more voters — including Democratic ones — that his policies are necessary.
Hell, at this point, it’s anyone’s guess how our electoral process will play out leading into the general election. COVID-19 might have thrown a wrench into the whole system, and we may not know what effects it will have until we approach the voting day.
One thing is clear: Bernie Sanders is here to stay as a leader and advocate for the working-class, which is where he’s always felt right at home.
His leadership during this period has proven that he cares more about what can be done in the immediate moment than his prospects for obtaining the presidency, and furthermore, that it is not necessary for him to wield executive authority to make a difference in the American political landscape.
Even as far back as June of 2019, 72% of Democrats had a highly favorable view of Sanders. Those numbers are sure to increase in the weeks to come, as he hosts virtual round-tables on COVID-19 and battles for a public bailout so that we do not repeat the disaster of the 2007–2008 financial meltdown.
Joe Biden has largely been propped up by an older electorate playing a more partisan type of ballgame - not to mention having the support of most party insiders and their mainstream media advocates.
They have their reasons for wanting a standard, establishment-style candidate. Many of them look fondly back on the Obama-era days as a time when the White House was characterized by poise and dignity, and they rightly fear the damage a second-term Trump presidency might incur.
Nonetheless, Sanders has won the overwhelming support of voters aged 35 and under, who aren’t going to be going anywhere anytime soon.
As time goes on, it will be that demographic that comes to increasingly define the electoral landscape, as younger Americans have already helped replace older, establishment-style Democrats with a new generation of legislators who are hot-blooded and ready to keep fighting for progressive change.
The victories of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and others like them demonstrate that true change is possible when working-class people come together to say no to a party that puts profits before planet and people.
The influence of the movement that catapulted these people into office is going to grow, not stagnate, in the coming decades.
Raising awareness was always the most important thing that Bernie Sanders accomplished during his two runs for the presidency.
Had he not been there, our political discourse would have remained confined within partisan boundaries, in which no serious effort would have been made to rethink the entire structure of our economy, the fairness of our democracy, or the strength of the values underlying our commitment to each other as Americans.
By running as a Democrat, Bernie Sanders forced the media to circulate the language of his ideas. Prior to 2016, one would have been thought of as insane for thinking the term “Democratic Socialist” could find its way into our mainstream political discourse.
These days, almost everyone is acquainted with the word, even if it is one of the most misunderstood terms in contemporary political discussion.
We have Bernie Sanders to thank for readjusting our nation’s optics so that they focus more clearly on the vulnerable and dispossessed. Now that a movement has been started, elites will find themselves hard-pressed to slow it.
He has worked his way into the hearts and minds of the average American citizen — not by making empty promises, but by sticking to his values and calling out all the various ways our nation still leaves many of us behind.
It takes courage to take on the entire political and media establishment. Sanders has exemplified that courage, time and time again.
The American people know who he stands for, and they’ll remember that, even when the 2020 race comes to an end.
They won’t forget how he ferociously challenged the powers-that-be and inspired millions to believe that we can make a difference, not by clinging to age-old divisions, but by transcending them together.
For Bernie Sanders and the progressive movement that flowered up around him, it was always a contest of ideas.
Although it is hard to see it right now, as COVID-19 takes its toll on the globe and politicians furiously deliberate over how to save our ailing economy, his ideas have won.
All we have to do, from this point on, is remember to keep fighting for them. The American people can be convinced to come together to create a fairer and more equitable society.
Sanders has shown us the way, now all we have to do is continue to fight for it.