By Dylan R.N. Crabb
The year is now 2016 – an election year in the United States, one that has enormous potential for the future of American politics. The voter turnout this November will determine the nation’s next president and the field of contenders is crowded.
On the Democratic side of the arena, we have Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley as the primary contenders. Hillary Clinton is a former US Senator, and a former US Secretary of State as well as the wife of (former) President Bill Clinton. Recently, Mrs. Clinton has addressed issues relating to social equality (equal rights between males and females, heterosexuals and homosexuals, etc.), economic reform, immigration reform, and national security (national security and immigration reform are looking to be ongoing topics of discussion throughout this election cycle). You can listen to Hillary Clinton discuss her economic vision for the nation in this recorded C-SPAN production here. Although Mrs. Clinton is currently leading her two opponents (according to RealClearPolitics), she has been labelled as a “flip-flopper by critics. A video compilation put together by The Guardian shows Mrs. Clinton juxtaposed between differing positions she has held on social issues and economic issues. Mrs. Clinton is also receiving her largest campaign donations from the financial industry (according to OpenSecrets), which raises questions about how she would implement economic reform. The former Secretary of State also has a history of hawkishness, often advocting for more militaristic measures in international conflicts such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Ukraine (as catalogued by Abby Martin at RT). Hillary Clinton may be the best funded among the Democrats, but she may not be as “liberal” as her supporters may believe. In comparison, US Senator Bernie Sanders is on similar ground with Hillary Clinton (in terms of this election cycle) but extends his rhetoric much farthur. He identifies as a socialist and is constantly advocating for an expansion of our government’s social welfare programs, citing those of Europe as examples. While there may be an irrational fear among American capitalists against any kind of public policy that puts people over profits, Sanders breaks through that fear by appealing to Americans with an immense grassroots coalition (bypassing the corporate media gate keepers) and identifies socialist mechanisms already engrained in American culture. Policies such as Medicare, which provides healthcare for senior citizens in the United States, are working in European nations providing healthcare for every citizen as a basic commodity. Sanders also seems to have a more consistent history than his rival, Hillary Clinton, having been advocating on the side of union-backed, American jobs and against global militarism ever since he was elected mayor of Burlington, Vermont, in 1981.
“When Bernie Sanders, a self-declared socialist, served as mayor here in the 1980s, he often complained that the United States had its priorities wrong, that it should be diverting money from the military to domestic needs like housing and health care,” writes Katherine Seelye at The New York Times.
“Mr. Sanders, frugal by nature, set the tone. And together, they conducted the first audit of Burlington’s pension system in a quarter-century. They moved the city’s money into higher-yielding accounts. They raised fees for building permits and for utilities that dug up the city’s streets. And they ended the cronyism by which the city’s insurance contracts had been let, opening them to competitive bidding. Taken together, these moves saved the city hundreds of thousands of dollars (Seelye, The New York Times).
When Hillary Clinton’s militarist tendencies is compared to Bernie Sanders’ populism, it seems like an easy choice for me. The former governor of Maryland, Martin O’Malley, has not been able to distinguish himself from Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, so his campaign seems kind of pointless to me. I think this upcoming primary election between Clinton and Sanders will be a metaphorical fight over the soul of the Democratic Party. As a nation, do we want to continue policies that follow corporate agendas that fuel the military industrial complex, or do we want to draw inspiration from the Rooseveltian progressives and create a more altruistic culture where the lower-classes are given what they earn as the backbone of the economy?