US Presidential Democratic Hopeful, Bernie Sanders, Is Rapidly Gaining Popularity
I just read on The Hill an article entitled, “Team Clinton ‘Worried’ about Bernie Sanders Campaign.” Sanders is quickly becoming serious competition for Clinton in the Democratic nomination:
Hillary Clinton’s campaign is “worried” about Bernie Sanders, whom a top Clinton aide described as a “serious force” in the 2016 battle.
“We are worried about him, sure. He will be a serious force for the campaign, and I don’t think that will diminish,” Clinton Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri said Monday in an interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“It’s to be expected that Sanders would do well in a Democratic primary, and he’s going to do well in Iowa in the Democratic caucus.”
Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont, has emerged as Clinton’s main foil in the Democratic primary.
While he’s still more than 40 percentage points behind Clinton in virtually all national polls, he’s greatly improved his stock in the early primary states.
A new Quinnipiac University poll released last week found he doubled his share of Democratic supporters in Iowa in just seven weeks. Some polls in New Hampshire show Sanders less than 10 points behind Clinton.
Indeed, in the last several hours, Huffington Post columnist H.A. Goodman posted a piece entitled, “‘Bernie Sanders Can Become President’ Has Replaced ‘I Like Him, But He Can’t Win'”:
How many time have you heard the phrase, “I like Bernie Sanders, but he can’t win,” uttered by people who identify themselves as progressives? The facts, however, illustrate that “Bernie Sanders can win” and nobody in politics foreshadowed the Vermont Senator’s latest surge in both Iowa and New Hampshire. He recently raised $15 million in just two months, and his campaign reports that “Nearly 87 percent of the total amount raised during the quarter came from the donors who contributed $250 or less.” While Clinton’s team isn’t worried, they should be, primarily because Hillary Clinton already lost a presidential race (spending $229.4 million in the losing effort) and finished behind both Obama and John Edwards in the 2008 Iowa Caucus.
Goodman continues by noting that Sanders “snagged a key ally” in New Hampshire: Democratic activist Dudley Dudley. Why the rise in Sanders’ popularity? Well, a key reason seems to rest in the fact that the public can get a clear answer from him– on some issues. As Goodman notes:
…Sanders didn’t need billions of dollars to earn the trust of voters in New Hampshire, or cut Hillary’s lead to only 8 points. Since he voted against the Iraq War and has spent a lifetime championing progressive issues while others waivered (Hillary was against gay marriage until 2013, voted for the Iraq War, pushed for the TPP on 45 separate occasions, and supported Keystone XL), Bernie Sanders doesn’t need to prove he’s a progressive. Voters know what they’re getting with Vermont’s Senator. In contrast, Hillary Clinton rarely offers a direct answer on why she failed to champion certain causes when they weren’t popular.
Clinton might avoid the direct answer, but when it comes to hot-button education issues, such as Common Core, Sanders has not spoken publicly. (More to come on Sanders and education.)
Still, Sanders appears to have what money cannot fabricate– grassroots support:
What polls can’t measure, however, is the numbers Sanders is drawing in overflowing crowds. A Washington Post article titled Sanders draws more than 2,500 to Iowa stop — tops for this presidential cycle so far, explains how an energized base of voters is making what was once improbable a very real possibility. …
Money can’t buy enthusiasm or “eye popping crowds,” and while Clinton has the financial backing (she’s been referred to by POLITICO as Wall Street Republicans Dark secret), Bernie has the hearts and minds of Democrats. The Washington Post writes that he’s gaining larger crowds than anyone in the 2016 presidential race, so while Clinton has the top Democratic strategists on her team, Bernie Sanders owns the grass roots support among voters. …
While Sanders “drew both traditional Democrats and conservatives” in Iowa, it would be unthinkable to see conservatives in any state supporting Hillary Clinton. The ability of Sanders to address issues that both right and left find important (even Ted Cruz is talking about wealth inequality) is one of the many advantages Sanders has over any Democratic rival. This advantage could also catapult him to victory over any GOP challenger. …
Bernie Sanders is drawing record crowds and surging in the polls because his value system is worth infinitely more than his opponent’s ability to generate billions of dollars.
As concerns his views on education, an April 2015 Forbes article notes that Sanders wants to “end the practice of the government making billions in profits from student loans taken out by low and moderate income families.” Also, according to Forbes, Sanders posted the following on Facebook regarding teacher pay:
The great moral, economic and political issue of our time is the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality we are experiencing. Something is very wrong when, last year, the top 25 hedge fund managers earned more than the combined income of 425,000 public school teachers. We have got to get our priorities right.
Sanders is a member of the Senate Ed committee that produced the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015, which will go before the Senate on July 7, 2015. (I have written extensively on the Senate ESEA draft and approved amendments.) Yet is seems that Sanders views this revision of what was originally the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 and commonly called by the name of its last revision, No Child Left Behind (NCLB), as a piece of legislation that needs to go. As noted in the June 2015 US News and World Report:
Sanders is the only candidate so far to focus on problems with No Child Left Behind in his remarks to the unions, according to excerpts provided by the NEA and AFT.
Sanders, who serves on the Senate education committee, said there are few others as opposed as he is to the sweeping education law – which Congress is attempting to update – and to “this absurd effort to force teachers to spend half of their lives teaching kids how to take tests.”
“If I have anything to say in the coming months, we would end [No Child Left Behind],” Sanders told Eskelsen Garcia.
However, Sanders has yet to publicly take a position on issues of Common Core, teacher tenure/evaluation, and school choice. The Senate ESEA draft defers to states on teacher evaluation issues and prohibits the US Secretary of Education from exercising decision making power over state standards and assessments, prohibiting the federal promotion of Common Core by name. But the Senate ESEA draft also preserves annual testing and is incredibly generous to establishing and expanding America’s under-regulated and over-scandaled charter schools.
The details behind Sanders’ statement about “ending” NCLB remain to be seen. Those wishing to press Senator Sanders for details on his education platform can reach him here, on his Senate website, or can tweet him: @SenSanders.
(As for the Senate ESEA draft, those wishing to contact specific members of congress may do so by calling the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.)
Indeed, Sanders is an emerging Democratic favorite on Twitter, with the hashtag, #feelthebern, garnering an average of 6,800 tweets per day between June 25 and July 1. The Clinton hashtag, #hillary2016, averaged 2,700 tweets.
And now, for some personal background on Sanders from the April 2015 Forbes article cited above:
Born in Brooklyn, New York, to Jewish immigrants from Poland, Sanders, 73, went to public school from kindergarten through 12th grade. He attended James Madison High School in Brooklyn at the same time as singer/songwriter Carole King and Judge Judy Sheindlin. He spent one year at Brooklyn College, graduated from the University of Chicago in 1964 and then moved to Vermont. His second wife, Jane O’Meara Sanders, was president of Burlington College in Vermont from 2004 to 2011.
And, as I close this post, I offer the following information on the 2016 presidential candidates, compliments of Ballotpedia:
Top potential and declared candidates
Based on media attention and public comments on the 2016 election, Ballotpedia expects the following candidates to be involved in the 2016 presidential election. When a candidate officially declares, it is noted on the list below.
Declined to run