July 17, 2018 | ° F

Only Bernie Sanders can defeat Trump, not Clinton

Opinion Column: The Champagne Socialist

We know the threat. Republican Party frontrunner Donald Trump, has denounced Mexican immigrants as rapists and murderers. He’s called for the forcible deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants and for revoking their U.S.-born children’s birthright citizenship. This would amount to a 21st century-style Trail of Tears. It would require a massive population transfer akin to the worst chapters of the last century. The arms and manpower raids necessitated by this ethnic cleansing would push the country toward a civil war, as Al-Jazeera’s Malcolm Harris wrote last September. The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos in his recent essay, “The Fearful and the Frustrated,” has documented the wide appeal Trump has garnered amongst Klansmen, neo-Nazis, “paleo-conservatives” and other outright white supremacists who’ve grown in numbers ever since Obama was elected. And they’re itching for a fight. 

The rest of the GOP is no better. Bible-thumping neurosurgeon Ben Carson has deemed Muslims to be unfit for public office and his equations of gays with pedophilia and bestiality speak for themselves. As for Bush, Rubio, Fiorina, Huckabee, Cruz, Christie and others? Well, they’re 10 or 20 points and further behind Trump and Carson. So, unfortunately, I can’t devote enough space to their oppressive and bigoted world views. 

Best-selling author Rick Perlstein deftly noted the parallels between Trump and fascism in an essay titled, “Donald Trump and the 'F' Word,” on The Washington Spectator. Jeffrey Tucker did the same for Newsweek, as did Ryan Cooper for The Week. Let’s not shy away from the "F Word." If we want to exorcize these evils, we have to call the Devil by His name. That is the enemy the U.S. Left is facing: fascism, U.S.-style. 

Such a threat can only be vanquished by its foil — the self-declared “democratic socialist” — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). The rapid rise of the Sanders insurgency on the democratic field is sending centrist frontrunner Hillary R. Clinton’s campaign into panic. Indeed, the historic levels of alienation and dissatisfaction with the Clinton/Bush political establishment is what’s fueling both Sanders and Trump’s rise, even though they both became members of their respective parties only a couple of months ago. Yet their similarities end right there. 

Sanders is the son of a working-class Jewish family and was raised in Brooklyn. His father was the only one of his family to escape the Holocaust. Sanders intimately knew of poverty and discrimination. This propelled him to join the Socialist Party of America’s youth wing, the Congress of Racial Equality and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee during his University of Chicago years. In January 1962, Sanders led a rally outside the university president’s office in protest of the school’s racially segregated housing policies. He and dozens of students bust into the office and performed the first sit-in in Chicago’s history. Meanwhile, Clinton was a “Goldwater Girl” who supported the firebrand anti-civil rights Arizona senator. 

Trump on the other hand was born with a silver spoon in his mouth thanks to his father, Fred Trump, a real estate mogul worth hundreds of millions of dollars. And, the spoon hasn’t left since. According to the Village Voice, in 1973, the Trumps faced a landmark Department of Justice suit that accused them of not renting property to African-Americans in violation of the recent Fair Housing Act, which resulted in far-reaching demands for the firm. At the height of the 1989 Central Park Five scandal — which saw five black and Latino boys falsely convicted for a white woman’s death — Trump took out newspaper ads blaring, “Bring back the death penalty! Bring back our police!” The five, teenagers at the time, were held for years, but had their cases vacated, forcing the city to pay them millions for an unjust conviction. Trump still callously believes that settlement to be “ridiculous.”

After years of odd jobs and third-party politics, Sanders was elected mayor of Vermont’s largest city, Burlington, in 1981. This would propel him to the U.S. House of Representatives from 1991 to 2007 and then to the Senate. The longest-serving congressman in history, Sanders would resist the post-Reagan Revolution Democratic Party’s rightward drift into Clintonite centrism and stake out bold positions against the Defense of Marriage Act and the free-market fundamentalist NAFTA deal, both signed by former President Bill Clinton. As for Mrs. Clinton, she’s voted for the Iraq War, the PATRIOT Act and waffled on whether to support Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership, another version of NAFTA. 

Mrs. Clinton has responded by rhetorically moving leftward on hot-button issues like Black Lives Matter, Fight for $15 minimum wage struggle, Keystone XL oil pipeline and LGBT rights. But let’s not be fooled. She’s basically an empty (pants)suit who's moved left, right and center based on political expediency. Her unfavorable and suspicion rates amongst Americans in general are high, even for famously liberal millennials, who are generally fatigued by politics as usual. Only by nominating Sanders can the democrats hope to motivate the turnout necessary to defeat not only the GOP nominee, but turn state governments blue as well. 

José Sanchez is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in history with a minor in political science. His column, “The Champagne Socialist,” runs on alternate Tuesdays.

José Sanchez

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