BY ANDREW WANG
As the Democratic primaries draw closer, it’s clear that all candidates have one goal in common: defeat Donald Trump. Self-proclaimed democratic socialist Bernie Sanders is the only one who can do it.
Sanders has been rising in the polls since last year. Following his heart attack in October, analysts thought his 2020 run would come to an end, as his polling numbers had dropped below both Elizabeth Warren’s and former Democratic nominee hopeful Kamala Harris’. Sanders proved otherwise and has since firmly cemented himself as the runner-up in many polls, even surpassing frontrunner Joe Biden in some recent polls for early states. One recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California showed that in this state Sanders amassed 27 percent of voters, surpassing Biden’s 24 percent.
Clearly, Sanders is doing something right. There was once a time in America where being labeled a “socialist” would permanently decimate a politician’s career, largely due to America’s irrational fear of implementing such programs. Technically speaking, public schools are a socialist program. Roads are a socialist program. Sanders, an ardent populist, has weakened the stigma behind the ominous concept of “socialism” by popularizing policies like Medicare for All and college debt relief, ideas that have found vast support among the working class. He is a modern-day progressive pioneer.
The 2020 Sanders campaign has grown immensely from its 2016 predecessor. This new campaign has addressed many of the criticisms of his old one, including the introduction of a more diverse cast of campaign organizers. Sanders has also pledged not to take big-dollar donations. Rather, he raises money through small grassroots donations, becoming the fastest candidate in history to hit 1 million individual donors. Although the Democratic National Convention slighted Sanders from the nomination in 2016, he introduced the party to ideas that are now commonplace discussion.
Whoever the DNC nominates will have to be able to reach out to voters that Hillary Clinton did not reach. Moderate Joe Biden will be unable to expand far beyond Clinton’s sphere. In 2016, Trump, who could also be considered a populist, captured the working class vote in critical swing states. He promised that he was “not like other Republicans” and would not cut Medicare or Medicaid, while prioritizing the interests of the working class. People voted for Trump because he claimed to not be a politician and presented himself as an outsider who promised to end the corruption of Washington.
Trump’s promises are left largely unfulfilled. Although the economy is faring well, it is unclear if the trend will continue. Furthermore, his policies have benefited the rich the most, contrasting the message of his populist campaign, and although jobs are being created, wages remain low. Midwestern factory jobs have not returned and the trade war with China has hurt low-income families the most. Those social programs are slated for substantial cuts, and there seems to be a constant stream of scandal coming from the White House.
If there’s one thing to remember about the Vermont senator, it is his consistency and his trustworthiness. No modern politician has a record as clean and consistent as Bernie Sanders does. Spanning over 50 years, Sanders has always been one to stand up for the underdog, first seen during his extensive involvement during the Civil Rights movement. He played a major role in a sit-in protest at the University of Chicago to advocate against racist housing policies.
Since then, Sanders has continually shown his resolve in his dedication to expanding the opportunities for the working people. He won congressional elections as an independent and passed a plethora of bills for the benefit of the working populace, earning him the nickname of “The Amendment King.” In Congress, he famously voted against the war in Iraq before grilling the president for turning a blind eye to the plight of working people.
When it comes to the 2020 election, Trump will not lose to a wishy-washy moderate Democrat. It takes someone who actually embodies the anti-corruption and populist values espoused by Trump in his 2016 campaign—values that Trump has failed to deliver on.
That person is Bernie Sanders.