Why Bernie Didn’t Sell Out

Why Bernie Didn’t Sell Out

Last week marked the unofficial end of the rivalry between Hillary Rodham Clinton and that ever cantankerous Senator Sanders. In a speech delivered before the people of New Hampshire, who voted in his favour, he addressed the question of his movement’s future and where his loyalty lay. I watched this as it streamed live on Facebook, torn between the body language of the two figures at the podium and the incoming flood of knee-jerk reactions from half-wits and the odd informed. Many complimented this change in tone; it had after all been a long and arduous primary season. Others lamented however Bernie’s decision to stand by the Devil and surrender everything he had ever stood for. And that’s where we stop because (and I’ll put this plainly), Bernie didn’t sell out. Here’s why:

  1. He won on the issues- if you listened to Clinton’s speech, which directly followed Sanders’ endorsement, you will have noticed how clever SNL were with their skit on Clinton becoming more and more Sanders’ like (to the point where Kate McKinnon ended up with a bald cap). At first, I gave her the benefit of the doubt on the assumption that she just isn’t as conservative as the uber-liberals have suggested. When it came to Wall Street however and her bargaining plea to overturn Citizen’s United, it became clear that she was taking note of the issues that prevailed in the debates, brought about because of Sanders’ longstanding rhetoric. She delved into college fees and global warming too, which made for a nice combination, leading me to believe that she has moved far more to the left than even the most hawkish of critics could have guessed.
  2. It’s not just about the Presidency- Sanders’ movement and the rise of the Left cannot solely rely on an office tampered with more than ever. It needs to endure beyond one or two terms into a progressive model by which the future of the Democratic Party can be shaped. Yes, Hillary has, in many senses, won the battle but the future could be Sanders, so long as the issues on which he based his candidacy, continue to resonate. As mentioned above, I think they already have to the point that Hillary can’t afford to ignore them. As well as that however, he can also serve as a highly influential figure outside of the White House. Who, for example, had more of an effect on American culture in the 1960s than Martin Luther King? Has Jimmy Carter not accomplished some of his best work out of office? The presidency is a convenient altar, through which many channels, from foreign aid to educational reform, can be distributed but as Bill Clinton himself has noted, it’s also prey to circumstances beyond a president’s control (e.g. 9/11).
  3. Trump must be defeated- I’ll admit that this is not my favourite argument as I do not believe elections should be contested on the basis of fighting against, rather than for something. It is an important one though and whether it depresses you or not, voting for the lesser of two so-called evils is still worthwhile. Bernie’s candidacy, has gone as far it needs to, in my opinion. With the Democratic National Convention coming up, it has become clear that his issues and supporters will not simply be sidelined but incorporated into the party’s agenda for the coming years. For now, he needs to ensure, if his own visions are to be realised though, that this party does as well as it can come November. Otherwise, the country will head in the exact opposite direction with Trump.
  4. Listen to the speech again- Sanders didn’t have to necessarily endorse Clinton but it was the responsible thing to do; what purpose would their rivalry have served after all? Not enough to sway you? Listen to the speech again then and tell me where exactly he abandons the principles on which he built his campaign? Still not enough? Take a trip through his YouTube interviews and go back to a year ago when he expressed his admiration for Hillary Clinton whilst acknowledging their differences of opinions. Granted, the race heated up and nostrils flared during the primary season but the gulf in rhetoric that existed between their camps, was never as deep as many of Sanders’ less reasonable supporters suggested. He fought a good battle and we can only admire him for what he did but that battle is over now and at some point, you have to concede and look to the positives.

It’s undoubtedly sad to see Bernie leave the race; he shook things up and set the country’s vision towards a better tomorrow, in a manner we just couldn’t have expected over a year ago with the “inevitable” Clinton candidacy. His role however in this race will at least go down in the history books and his role to come will remain that of an inspiring spokesman for a disenfranchised generation.

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The Age Of Protest Votes

The Age Of Protest Votes

The United States has something important to learn in the wake of Brexit; protest votes are not only petty, they’re extremely dangerous and stupid too. In this election year, we have been bombarded with multiple pieces on public frustration with establishment politics. As much as we are seeing an intelligent dialogue developing in this context however, we are also witnessing with a great many others, the collapse of a logical framework for debate. Too many people are now voting with knee jerk reactions; against rather than for something. The political game can’t be played like customer service though. Protest votes yield actual results.

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On June 23, the British people voted narrowly to leave the EU. Across social media and the web, the reaction was one of shock, even amongst many who voted in this favour. And then came “Bregret”- the pun on a word already being played with, as up to 7% Leave voters began to profess their vote was only cast in the belief that Britain would inevitably remain, or as some form of quasi-protest against some half-formed ideal they didn’t even understand. This became evident immediately in the wake of the votes, as top Google searches ranged from questions concerning what Britain’s role in the EU is to what indeed this “European Union” is. And we thought America was hogging all the stupidity this year…

The campaigns in Britain were of course controversial and already we are beginning to see how weak the structures on which Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson built their case were. Interestingly, national identity and immigration were key issues, especially amongst older voters who by large voted to leave the institution that had been irking them since 1973. The question has loomed for many years as to whether Great Britain is losing its Britishness. In America too, this question has come to the forefront with Trump’s campaign. Many of his voters, the so-called “silent majority,” white middle-class feel that they are not being catered for in the way they used to be. After all, look at how much hip hop music is on the radio these days. It’s threatening, quite frankly.

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Holding onto their Britishness no matter what…

 

Political correctness is another factor, in tandem with this, which boils the blood of many. Where actual issues arise with immigration, many liberals disavow the very notion of discussion on this area with labels of bigotry being thrown around at the clinking of a tea-cup. Trump, for all his bullishness and disregard, comes across as genuine and honest, in contrast to the political suits of past times. When he speaks about Mexicans, he’s speaking from the heart. Granted, that’s not a heart I’m sure exists, but he’s speaking from whatever’s there nonetheless. People appreciate this. They want a politician who speaks like your drunken grandfather on a night out. So when people complain about how they’re losing their political identity, it’s not a far stretch to attribute it to many of the left-leaning commentators who put a binding on the language book many years ago.

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Whilst I am clearly not a fan of political correctness, I do appreciate where people are coming from. There are problems with the EU and America. There are problems with immigration. National identity and culture should be appreciated. With all these cases however, common sense must then prevail however. For example, you may not have agreed with David Cameron on many domestic or foreign issues, but his Remain stance, was no just cause for joining the anti-establishment. You may feel America is being pushed around with immigration, but does this justify the extremist measures of a man whose policy is based on a Wikipedia entry? Establishment politics can prove frustrating but overhaul and revolutions are only required where all other means are exhausted. Trump may appear to many the underdog saviour who will restore American prestige at rallies, but sit down again and read the transcript of what he says, then think. If the Google searches come November concern the costs of a border wall, then standardised testing should be needed to secure the right to vote.

Andrew Carolan