Where Will US Domestic Politics Go?
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann.
The surprising performance of veteran Senator Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential elections and the disappointing performance at the top post by the unpredictable Donald Trump have stimulated a very large part of the US public – especially (but not only) Democratic Party supporters – to believe that the United States needs a Sanders and a new party.
Many of those who reason in this way believe that the old Vermont politician should take up the challenge to defeat Trump in 2020, with or without the backing of the machinery of the historic “donkey” party. Others feel that the energy of a younger leader who would take up the ideological banner of the old Sanders, with the support of a new party with or without Bernie, should be available.
These and many other variations have in common the assumption that the current President Donald Trump has already dug the grave of the Republican party and his own with his performance in the first two years of his catastrophic term.
According to the most credible polls, about 60% of U.S. voters in general, and nearly 80% of those who are not affiliated with either of the two major parties, are in favor of the emergence of a new party of majorities.
Writing in the Huffington Post, September 27 of last year, writer and journalist Gail Mellor quoted Sanders’ words calling for “the unity of the vast majority of Americans to survive together, because if we start divided, we will not succeed”. However, she recalls that at least four times in the last two years, when she has been ready to start up a new progressive party, it has been Bernie himself who has blocked it.
According to Mellor, Sanders has been working to unify the deeply-divided and corrupt Democratic party – to which he himself does not belong – but, in practice, his position has not contributed to the rise of a new progressive political force with the potential to come to the forefront of the country’s leadership. This is because he has insisted on the survival of the Democratic Party with a different set of policies as a prerequisite.
The main support Bernie Sanders had when he aspired to the White House came from “Generation Y,” also called “the millennials,” names demographers and researchers give to people born between 1980 and the early years of the new 21st century, who represent 28% of United States voters today.
He sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 because young progressives from that party dragged him into an effort to clean up U.S. politics, end ongoing wars, restore social safety nets and confront climate change. They had not been able to recruit someone at the national level of the Democratic or Republican parties to lead the fight for this agenda who was not receiving money from global corporations.
Sanders, an independent (non-partisan), had held state and federal office without party or corporate backing for 42 years. Despite being a convincing, passionate and well-informed politician, he was a stranger at the national level.
It was the millennials of the Democratic Party and its environment, the supporters of the country’s withdrawal from imperialist activity, of a policy of cultural and political change, and of the reorientation toward social democracy, who made him a national public figure and led him to compete for the Democratic Party’s nomination for the White House.
Although formally independent, Bernie acted as a Democrat because he was aware that the two dominant parties of the system had closed access to the Presidency of the nation to anyone who did not do so through them. The Democrats welcomed Sanders as their candidate because he gave the party’s primary campaign an illusion of competition that would help its already elected candidate to legitimize herself.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) calculated that Hillary Clinton would easily beat Trump because she had a huge amount of corporate money, while Sanders, with the support of young progressives, was able to gather, in a short time, large crowds for Hillary Clinton campaign rallies.
It seems obvious that Sanders dreams of the possibility of taking the Democratic Party over, at the head of a vigorous minority movement. This would not be an easy thing to achieve but there remains the alternative, feared by the neoliberals of the party, of going on to the formation of a new independent progressive party.
June 4, 2018.