Bernie Sanders’ Momentum Demonstrates the Resurgence of the Left

by Liam Young

11 February 2016

It would seem that a lot of people want to close their eyes and pretend the resurgence of the left simply isn’t happening. People who write about this phenomenon are mocked and chastised as fools. If the left is so strong, why do people still massively support the Conservatives? If the left is on the rise, why is Donald Trump getting such a hearing in the US? The answers are certainly complex, but it is hard to deny the left is in a much stronger position today than it has been in recent years.

Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination is the topical example of this resurgence; to explain his victory in New Hampshire simply as a ‘win’ is to do Sanders and his campaign an injustice. He didn’t just win the state, he won almost every demographic across it. Sanders beat Hillary Clinton 60% to 38% overall, carrying the majority of both men and women (securing the votes of 82% of women under the age of 30), and the majority of both gun owning and non-gun owning votes. He won a majority of first-time primary voters and long-term voters, while charging ahead amongst moderates and liberals alike. Clinton could only be comforted by winning the support of voters over the age of 65 and those voters whose families earned over $200k per year. These figures are simply astonishing.

The argument that Clinton was a no-hope in New Hampshire must also be quashed; Sanders is right when he describes the Clinton dynasty as the ‘most powerful political organisation’ in the US. Hillary Clinton was a prominent first lady, a prominent senator and an extremely prominent secretary of state. The argument that she entered the New Hampshire race with a handicap because Sanders is from the state next door is bankrupt. The problem for Clinton was more likely the fact that she is too well known. This is why it must be accepted that there is something else powering the rise of Sanders and the left; rather than it being a simple protest, it is a serious attempt to move away from establishment politics and establishment economics.

But will the Sanders’ ‘political revolution’ continue to roll on uninterrupted? There is certainly momentum in the Bernie camp after strong performances in Iowa and New Hampshire, but it is in the southern states that the revolution will face its first hurdle. Clinton’s lead in South Carolina [where the ‘first in the south’ primary takes place on 27 February] is particularly strong – something along the lines of the victory Sanders achieved in New Hampshire is currently being predicted. However his recent strong performances have shown Sanders to be a serious and viable candidate for the presidency. Furthermore, with the airwaves dedicated to news of recent victories it is not hard to believe that Democratic primary voters will pause and take a closer look at his policies.

The terrain ahead is certainly easier for Clinton while Sanders has one hell of a mountain to climb. Could the unimaginable be achieved in US politics just like it was achieved in British politics with the election of Jeremy Corbyn to the Labour leadership? If the revolution falls as it hits the south then perhaps the resurgence of the left is not as strong as people like me believe. But if the revolution rolls on then the naysayers will have to take a second look, climb down from their ivory towers and accept that people want to be offered an alternative to the same old broken politics.

Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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