Picking apart the primaries


david koroma

The American primary season is upon us.

This is when American voters decide who their Republican and Democrat presidential candidates will be.

Much has been made of the prospect of a President Donald Trump, but while the Republican side has become a gong-show, the Democratic side is shaping up to be an unexpectedly close contest.

For years, pundits and political observers assumed Hillary Clinton is a shoe-in for the nomination and the inevitable Democratic candidate for president. Nobody saw the 74-year-old, self-described “socialist” Bernie Sanders making a significant impact on the Democratic race.

Any assumptions for this have seemed to fly out the window since Sanders launched his bid for president last May.

Many Clinton supporters started out saying that nobody who embraced socialism could be elected president of The United States. But as Sanders’s popularity has increased, so have his poll numbers. On Feb. 1, some national polls show Sanders out-performing Clinton in match-ups against Republican leaders Trump and Ted Cruz.

While Sanders still lags behind Clinton in national matchups, he has risen to a statistical tie in two early primary states — Iowa and New Hampshire. On Feb. 1, Sanders split the delegates in Iowa—the state that played a decisive factor in then-Senator Obama’s meteoric rise to defeat Clinton back in 2008.

“What Iowa has started tonight is a political revolution,” Sanders said on Feb. 1 That was after he acknowledged that no one president could bring about the ambitious changes he and his supporters are calling for.

This fact is one of Clinton’s main attacks. She says Sanders is not being practical, but this a cynical attack. The Iowa caucuses proved that many Democratic voters are heeding the call for a political revolution.

“If a bank is too big to fail, it is too big to exist,” proclaims Sanders during every stump speech, before pointing out that Clinton receives millions of dollars in donations from said big banks.

In an attempt to drive a wedge between Democratic voters, Clinton says Sanders’s plan for universal healthcare will kill Obamacare and restart a divisive national debate. Sanders says he would merely look to expand Medicare to all Americans.

One thing is certain — Sanders has become the candidate for the anti-establishment progressives of America. While Clinton looks to brandish her establishment credentials, Sanders points to his history of leadership on progressive issues from campaign financing, to civil rights, to opposing the War in Iraq.

Sanders’s rallies are larger and his supporters are louder, but the coming weeks and months will show us if his campaign is organized enough to achieve what many pundits continue to view as unlikely, if not impossible.

David Koroma has experience working in government and political communications. He is interested in the role citizens play in creating positive change on Canadian stage. Follow David on Twitter @D_A_Koroma.