BERNIE SANDERS is the one mainstream candidate campaigning solidly from the left in the US presidential election campaign. He has now acknowledged that he cannot win enough votes in the primaries to become the Democratic Party candidate in this autumn’s contest.
It’s the second time Sanders has put forward his agenda to the Democratic Party, hoping to be selected as their presidential candidate. Four years ago, he was defeated by the mighty Hillary Clinton campaign. She did not succeed in putting forward an agenda which could beat Donald Trump, who edged a fairly close contest.
Sanders made a good showing early on in the Democratic Primaries. Now, as last time round, he received particularly strong support from young voters who were attracted to his radical agenda and an alternative that is rarely on offer in mainstream debate in the USA. It was enough to make him a surprise front runner in the early stages of the primaries.
And that was enough for the establishment to kick in. The media responded to Sanders’s success not by unbiased reporting of the results but with headlines implying that there was a maverick on the loose who might, by some fluke of people not taking this seriously, get his hands on the levers of power. Oh the irony – in a land which had already elected Donald Trump as president, after most of the press had shown his candidacy nothing but respect.
Democrat voters took the hint, and in the second round of Democrat primaries they turned out and voted for Biden, to keep the “maverick” out. As if Biden could inspire voters to ditch Trump. As if Biden was presenting an alternative – beyond just not being Donald Trump.
Sanders was at pains to stress that while the arithmetic has made it clear he cannot win the Democratic nomination, his campaign is not over. He told his supporters, on a live stream of course, that his campaign had transformed political awareness in the US. Significant numbers of voters had been won over to the “struggle for economic justice, social justice, racial justice and environmental justice”. These principles, he said, were the future.
Someone said pretty much the same thing in the UK not so long ago. The press turned against him too – until they had pushed him out the picture. In western democracies, the establishment is keen to limit the amount of democracy on offer to the people.