Sanders emerges as winner in Democratic Party Debate
Opinion Column: The Champagne Socialist
Throughout our media, social or otherwise, the heralded winner of Sunday night’s Democratic Party debate was Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) by far. He managed to dominate over Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-Md.) and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, defending himself against her campaign’s increasingly desperate and unfounded attacks. And by desperate, I mean her daughter Chelsea’s recent accusation that Sanders, who voted for and pushed for the so-called "public option" that President Obama eventually dropped, wants to dismantle the Affordable Care Act entirely. Politifact instead judged that Sanders’s health care plan would instead expand and consolidate Obamacare by taking it to its logical conclusion: a universal, federalized single-payer system. Or as Bernie himself calls it, a Medicare-for-All system, which basically means that the government will pay for any health care costs, and whatever modest tax increases levied by the less-than-wealthy will be offset by a drastic reduction in health costs. As for who’ll pay for it, it’ll be the rich who’ve been sitting on billions of dollars of untaxed money.
Clinton’s previous position way back in the early 1990s, when as First Lady she was tasked with coming up with the administration’s health care plan, was for single-payer. Yet, she soon bowed to the powerful insurance industry’s pressure. Since they’ve prostrated themselves to the health care industry, the Clintons have made millions in speaking fees to industry meetings. According to the Intercept, Hillary Clinton alone made over $2.8 million from 2013 to 2015 alone in some 13 speeches. Last summer, her husband, former President Bill Clinton was the keynote speaker at America’s Health Insurance Plans, the same group that poured $100 million into a campaign to defeat or blunt the Affordable Care Act during its writing. Indeed, Hillary Clinton’s bribes from the health care industry are about as equal to the paid speeches she’s made to the banking industry. As for her and her husband, the Intercept reports that they have both made $139 million in speaking fees to the same behemoths like Goldman Sachs that over-speculated the economy to the point of collapse and got away with white-collar crimes scot-free. Now Hillary’s telling us she’ll tell the plutocrats to “cut it out.” It’s all campaign B.S., folks.
The struggle between Sanders and Clinton can then be boiled down to a battle for the soul of the Democratic Party. Sanders represents the spirit of revolution, of radicalism, of breaking away from the grip of Clintonite centrism, and going further than Obama could. Sanders’ welfare state and Medicare-for-All system has been a tenet of Democratic Party politics since the days of Rooseveltian social democracy. Polls show that on issue after issue, Sanders’ socialism is much closer to a plurality, if not majority of the U.S. public.
Indeed, it is because of the widespread popularity of his ideas and so many other factors that Bernie’s starting to take on the once-impenetrable aura of ‘inevitability’ that Clinton claimed. According to polls like Quinnipiac’s, Sanders does much better than Clinton at defeating Trump and the others that the Republican Party is peddling. More Americans find Sanders more honest and trustworthy than Clinton, who’s infamous for her almost Nixon-like habits of secrecy. Sanders also isn’t being probed by the F.B.I., and he’s already surpassed the most well-known woman in America in the early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire. Sanders was for same-sex marriage way before it was easy to be, he was against neo-liberal trade pacts like the North American Free Trade Agreement or the Trans-Pacific Partnership way before Clinton, and perhaps most importantly of all, Sanders was able to resist the Bush administrations' manipulations and voted against authorizing the disastrous Iraq War, unlike the famously hawkish Hillary Clinton.
Without the help of corporate money or the political establishment, Sanders has amassed more campaign contributions than any other candidate in U.S. history, more than even sitting presidents like President Obama. And remember that last fact, because at this point back in 2008 Obama was in a similar place vis-à-vis Hillary Clinton in the polls, and he was in a much weaker position than Sanders, who has decades of experience in government and activism. His strengthened position in the campaign and the fast-fading luster of Hillary’s Clinton "inevitable" coronation, his trustworthiness, straight talk and socialist flare in a year of populist anger against the establishment have emboldened the Vermont senator. He mopped the floor with Hillary Sunday night and all signs point to him winning the Democratic Party’s nomination, defeating the far-right populism of Trump, becoming president and becoming the most popular Jewish socialist in U.S. history besides Christ.
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.