SANCHEZ: Pragmatic case against Clinton’s candidacy
Opinions Column: The Champagne Socialist
Four states into the Democratic primary, and so far for my preferred candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) we’ve a victorious blowout in New Hampshire, a virtual tie of less than 1 percent between him and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in Iowa, a close loss in Nevada and a crime scene in South Carolina. Sanders has come a very, very long way. He started in the single digits when he first announced his candidacy last spring, and now, according to some polls, like a recent one from Reuters, he’s virtually tied with Clinton’s filthy-rich, Establishment-approved juggernaut of a campaign. Yet after losing by a wider gap in South Carolina than he won New Hampshire, just a few days from today’s Super Tuesday when more than a dozen states vote, the sense that Bernie’s "political revolution" will have to wait another four years is eerily palpable. Pundits on CNN, MSNBC, Fox and elsewhere are declaring Sanders dead.
Yet the corporate media is — as always — exaggerating. Sanders was indeed thrashed by South Carolina’s black voters as Clinton took about 85 percent of them, but that support came almost explicitly from older black voters who supported her astronomically more than black millennials down in the Palmetto State. Furthermore, the demographic makeup of the primary itself was exceptional in racial terms and isn’t representative of the whole country or party. The theory of Clinton’s “Southern Firewall” depends on large numbers of black voters, and South Carolina was the highest with about 60 percent of primary voters being black. Yet in delegate-rich states like Texas or Virginia for instance, blacks make up around one-fifth to one-third of Democratic voters. And nationally, African-Americans were only about 13 percent of the 2012 electorate, which is important to know for the general election. Indeed, with New Hampshire’s black voters being less than 2 percent of the total, that state’s demographics were a bit more representative of the whole country than South Carolina. This isn’t to say black folks aren’t electorally significant, but beating a fascist like Donald Trump means not simply relying on them alone. Victory depends on a multiracial coalition of the 99 percent like the one Sanders is trying to build.
And besides, the primaries have just begun! Barely 5 percent of the delegates have been decided so far, yet that will change tonight. With states outside of the Clinton-friendly Deep South like Massachusetts and Colorado voting tonight, the Sanderista Revolution may just survive. And what’s also crucial to know is that the voters that will be much more significant in the general election were won by Sanders down in South Carolina: Independents, millennials, first-timers and white dudes. Now Sanders isn’t as popular with African-Americans as he is with European-Americans, but he still managed to win Nevada Latinos. But voters of color will reject a fascist like Trump anyway. What’s important is in converting Independents and first-time voters into Democrats by increasing turnout. And Mrs. Clinton isn’t the person to do that. Indeed, all signs point to a Clinton candidacy being a disaster.
As you should know, despite their smugness, Democrats are very weak right now. Under the milquetoast and overly conciliatory President Obama, the Democrats have lost in the U.S. Congress, statehouses and governorships. Democrats are at their weakest since before the Depression, despite Republicans being the more unpopular party. A party as weak as this needs to do something drastic if it wants to remain nationally competitive and elect a president that can actually work with an agreeable, brand-new Congress instead of the obstructionist constitutional hardball we’ve seen for years. Yet all Clinton seems to be offering is more of the same, and not a bold, left-wing alternative to galvanize turnout and kick the G.O.P. out from their jobs.
Clinton would likely be the least-liked presidential candidate in modern history, with a little over half of Americans viewing her as unfavorable and dishonest. Indeed, Sanders is the most favorable candidate of either party. Amongst electorally crucial Independents, who outnumber voters of both parties, Clinton is especially unpopular. Clinton’s unlikable image is based in her scandal-plagued career, and much of it is her husband’s baggage.
Every Clinton scandal imaginable will be exploited by Donald Drumpf — I mean, Trump. As Nathan Robinson wrote at Current Affairs, Trump will use everything against Clinton, who has never run in a general election, and has been an elected official for only eight years as a New York senator compared Sanders’s 35 years. She’d flailed as Trump attacks her constant flip-flopping on issues like free trade, reminds America that she arrived at his wedding, and can certainly cast her as a corrupted tool of Wall Street plutocrats. And hey, as the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin and others have pointed out, Clinton's a bad candidate: wooden, uninspiring, awkward and so forth. A socialist firebrand like Sanders then, laser-focused on the issues, un-bought and un-bossed, is the only candidate that’s most impervious to a Candidate Trump and can arouse more turnout while also gaining millions of new converts. Defeating fascism means dumping.
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.
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