By Sharon Jones
The road to the nomination is a lock for Hilary Clinton at this point, but Bernie Sanders might have just transformed political dialogue more than most presidents ever do. That he has resonated so strongly with young voters that will carry their new political dialogue with them for decades, shows his true impact. A Harvard IOC poll that surveyed citizens between the ages of 18 and 29, found that Bernie Sanders was the only candidate with a net favorability rating, with 54% favorable and 31% unfavorable (+23 net favorability). For comparison, Donald Trump’s net favorability rating is -57.
Within the 18 – 29 age group, 33% favor socialism, 42% support capitalism. Essentially, the majority of this age group support neither socialism or capitalism. The door is left open for “other” political theories. That this phenomenon of questioning the established systems is now happening is much the result of Bernie Sanders calling attention to it.
It isn’t just among the young though. Bernie Sanders has reframed issues for older voters as well. While the core white, older voters will always favor the GOP, Sanders has opened the dialogue of making Democracy work for the average American again. Those who have seen years of growing disparity and watching their wages go backward, finally had a real voice that wasn’t compromised by campaign contributions, his own ego, or the insincerity of regular politicians. There has been a clear division between Sanders supporters and Clinton supporters due the lack of trust assigned to Clinton and given freely to Sanders.
The once awful word of socialism has come back into view due to Bernie Sanders. Due to this discussion it is recognized by many that the overreaction might not have ever been justified to begin with. Comparisons to Scandinavian systems have been frequent and shown some clear benefits to the mix of capitalism and socialism over the pure Social Darwinism prevalent in the U.S. Because of this, the myths of U.S. health care, trickle-down economics and capital solving all ills, have been questioned more this time around than ever before.
Voters have started to show a disdain for the poisonous campaign finance system and the Sanders campaign has highlighted the need for reform more than has ever been mentioned in Presidential campaigns before. In fact, the Sanders campaign has been the only one to talk about it in this cycle. Donald Trump has only mentioned his self-funded campaign out of ego and not actually confronted the need for full reform.
Bernie Sanders highlighted the evils of the financial system as it currently operates and brought it to the forefront. Only Elizabeth Warren has spoken out as fervently. That the discussion moved to a national campaign has been long overdue. Other candidates taking Wall Street money (wink, wink) don’t have the license to speak so freely and one wonders if they ever actually would anyway. The discussion has been so long overdue as it plays into the theme of returning opportunity to the middle and lower classes so devastated by the abuses of capital.
Few candidates have implored the restoration of the labor unions to the extent of Bernie Sanders. Even among Democrat candidates the M.O. has been to get the endorsement but avoid a term seen as contentious to some voters, as it was so frequently (and mistakenly) aligned with communism during the Cold War. That we have spent three decades allowing the decimation of the labor movement, has given disproportionate power to capital over labor. Bernie Sanders used his campaign to show this detrimental impact on the working class Americans.
Another frequently discussed topic of the Sanders’ campaign has been free college. Not a radical idea considering its use in many other countries. That U.S. college students are crippled with tremendous debt is an outrage that eventually will destroy any return on investment associated with a college degree in the U.S. Bernie Sanders called attention to the lack of focus on soft skills in a country that desperately needs them and is falling behind other nations.
The list goes on as to Sanders’ impact. The most important item is that political dialogue in this country took a turn to the more robust, logical and open minded. Issues that had been ignored or covered up, were brought to the forefront and the definitions of terms have been re-written.
Donald Trump may be the candidate that has received the most attention and will be talked about for years, but Bernie Sanders has reshaped the political conversation for decades to come. Bernie has truly been the most important candidate in the 2016 race.
Sharon Jones is a contributor to zenruption’s politics and life sections. She has her degree in political science. We think she is a great critical thinker but we also enjoy it when she has a few too many drinks and doesn’t think very critically at all.
Feature photo courtesy of Flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license