What many expected to be a coronation for establishment candidate Hillary Clinton has morphed into a pitched battle for the soul of the Democratic Party. Despite all the corporate media hype to the contrary, the long slog to the Democratic nomination is just getting started. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and Bernie Sanders knows a thing or two about winning cross-country races.
For a campaign as clearly vulnerable as the Clinton campaign to be assuming victory so early in the nomination process is rather breathtaking in its hubris. Fortunately, we live in a democracy, not a monarchy, and voters in 31 more states will decide who carries the Democratic banner into the general election.
On Super Tuesday, the line to get into our Colorado caucus site wrapped around a middle school for six long blocks. Despite chilly temperatures and knowing we had at least an hour of waiting ahead of us, a warm sense of community and common purpose prevailed. Neighbors sought out neighbors and new friends were made, regardless of candidate affiliation. It was a beautiful display of democracy in action.
Inside, our precinct caucus went strongly for Sanders (67 to 37). Standing up for Bernie with my friends in Boulder was one of the proudest moments of my life. It felt like history in the making.
It seems worth mentioning here that I switched my party affiliation from Independent to caucus with the Democrats this year. I figured if Bernie could do it, so could I. In Colorado, thousands of other unaffiliated voters also registered as Democrats, helping propel Sanders to an overwhelming 59%-40% victory over Clinton (after once trailing her by as many as 28 points). Despite having left the Democratic Party many years ago, it felt good to caucus as one knowing that Bernie wants to bring the party home to its populist FDR New Deal roots.
Just as exhilarating as voting for Bernie has been watching the Sanders political revolution spread like wildfire across the land.
First came Iowa, where Bernie Sanders shocked the political world by battling Hillary Clinton to a virtual tie after starting the race more than 45 points down. Then came New Hampshire, where Sanders trounced Clinton. Then came Nevada, where Bernie came within 5 points of beating Hillary after starting more than 35 points down. Then it was Clinton's turn to stomp Sanders in South Carolina. On Super Tuesday, Bernie's insurgent campaign once again defied the odds by winning four states to Hillary's seven, including one in the South. Then came Kansas (Sanders), Nebraska (Sanders), Louisiana (Clinton) and Maine (Sanders). Next up are primaries in Michigan and Mississippi. Then come Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Florida.
Not counting superdelegates (who can switch their allegiance anytime), here's the current rough delegate count: Sanders has 478 to Clinton's 677. Bernie has some ground to make up, but he clearly has the momentum and a path to victory if voters Feeling the Bern continue to turn out in record numbers.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I have never seen Hillary Clinton winning the Democratic nomination. And it's not just because she suffers from a massive trust deficit. It's because she is out of touch with the mood of the electorate. Bernie is blazing a hopeful path to the future, while Hillary is wedded to the past. Despite unrelenting opposition by DNC party bosses, political pundits, media elites and the Clinton machine, Bernie's inspiring "Yes we will" optimism is trumping Hillary's technocratic "No we can't" defeatism.
The longer this race goes on, the weaker Hillary gets, because the more voters get to know her, the less they like her. In stark contrast, the more voters get to know Bernie, the more they like him. Even more troubling for Clinton, poll after poll shows Sanders not only beating Hillary nationally, but leading her against all the GOP presidential hopefuls, including Mr. 1%, Donald Trump.
In "Unless the Democrats Run Sanders, a Trump Nomination Means a Trump Presidency," Current Affairs editor Nathan J. Robinson spells out why Sanders is the Democratic Party's best hope against Donald Trump: "A Clinton match-up is highly likely to be an unmitigated electoral disaster, whereas a Sanders candidacy stands a far better chance. Every one of Clinton's (considerable) weaknesses plays to every one of Trump's strengths... From a purely pragmatic standpoint, running Clinton against Trump is a disastrous, suicidal proposition." I agree. It would be foolhardy for Democrats to take a chance on Hillary in 2016.
Clinton represents timid incrementalism at a time when the American people are in desperate need of bold transformational change. It is dispiriting to watch the Clintons serially slam the dreams that millions of Americans share with Sanders, dreams that most of the rest of the industrialized world have already achieved. Lest we forget, America was constituted on a daring dream our Founders risked their lives to realize.
Yet the Clinton campaign mantra seems to be "No we can't" guarantee health care to everyone as a right. "No we can't" make public colleges and universities tuition free. "No we can't" have guaranteed paid family and medical leave. "No we can't" have a minimum wage of $15 an hour. "No we can't" ban fracking. Had that kind of defeatist thinking prevailed during the American Revolution, there would be no America today. With that kind of uninspired thinking, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin would never have walked on the Moon.
Expressed another way by former President Bill Clinton's Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, who has endorsed Sanders: "Progressive change has never happened without bold ideas championed by bold idealists. Some thought it was quixotic to try for civil rights and voting rights. Some viewed it as naïve to think we could end the Vietnam War. Some said it was unrealistic to push for the Environmental Protection Act. But time and again we've learned that important public goals can be achieved - if the public is mobilized behind them."
Bernie Sanders is winning the hearts and minds of America because he is calling for a political revolution that puts the needs of the American people first. Bernie's the best thing that ever could have happened to the Democratic Party. He's also their best hope to win the White House in November.
Cross-posted with Common Dreams