Sanders supreme visionary
JFK, Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Kennedy and Ronald Reagan were all inspirational leaders who had visions of an America that could be better, wiser, and more compassionate.
But who would have guessed that Bernie Sanders, a 74-year-old arm waving, oft-angry Senator from the tiny state of Vermont, a man who had decades serving quietly in Congress, could have his name added to this list?
Sen. Sanders has captured a good part of angry Americans who think a better America is possible, but for the failings of our elected officials, and he has done so with an authenticity that is unchallenged and a volatile passion that cannot be denied.
Sanders has earned his addition to the list of American visionaries and has started a movement to restore the true American Dream by ending income inequality, advancing a living wage for honest work, demanding we save our planet, making free college once again an American value and taking corporate money out of our politics.
Equally significant has been Sanders political rise as a presidential candidate, from obscurity to national recognition, by simply bringing together huge crowds of people to hear him argue for their values.
And his fundraising has remained 100 percent free of corporate funding. Sanders’ average contribution is just under $30 per individual, yet he has raised millions of dollars and remained competitive in the Democratic primaries.
Sanders has tapped into an American shift away from three decades of Republican conservatism and a movement to a more tolerant America, where endless wars are no longer seen as our national mission. It is a shift Sanders’ rhetoric engages and energizes, as evidenced by his large crowds at campaign events.
In spite of all that has been inspirational about Bernie Sanders in this season of our discontent, Sanders will not win the Democratic nomination for president. That recognition will go to the other Democratic candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a race that has been highly competitive and engaging.
Sanders not only made the Democratic primaries something far from a Clinton coronation, he made the topics shift the argument to more progressive positions on several issues.
But Sanders, like many visionaries, failed to see all the trees within the forest of electoral politics. Specifically, while huge crowds are exciting, what is more exciting in the primaries is getting those crowds translated into votes.
At that, Sanders was far too rarely able to succeed, and subsequently, Clinton has amassed several million more votes this primary season.
Part of the Sanders’ problem in gaining primary votes has been his targeted voters and those of Clinton, and how each succeeded at getting those voters to the polls. Sanders strength was in younger voters, who have a poor record of turnout on election days.
His second strongest support was from Independent voters, but in many Democratic primaries those voters cannot vote without first registering as Democrats. Sanders’ third strength was in attracting white Democratic voters, but in a multicultural political party, those voters do not number enough to win most primaries.
Clinton has her greatest strengths in Black and Hispanic voters and female voters, all core groups within the Democratic Party and all very active voters in the primaries.
The results were predictable. Sanders was unable to win majorities in the voting blocs where Clinton was strongest and, without those votes, he lost many primaries and delegates.
But Sanders will continue to campaign into the July convention and that will keep his issues in the spotlight of our politics. This is good for Secretary Clinton and good for the Democratic Party.
Hopefully, in Philadelphia, Sanders will unite with Clinton, the nominee, and stand together on the most progressive platform the Democrats have offered America in decades.
In a sea of negativity, let’s hope together they show a hopeful path forward.
Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.