For decades in North America, the phrase “socialism” has been somewhat of a dirty word. But things may be about to change, in dramatic fashion.
Despite the mainstream media’s insistence on focusing their gaze at the neo-Fascist Donald Trump, it is in fact another New Yorkian who is striding towards the White House. And it is this understated, modest politician who is the one we should really be paying attention to.
Quietly and gradually, Bernie Sanders, the United States Senator for Vermont, has been breaking records and gaining support. As with all political campaigns, the race to Capitol Hill is a marathon and not a sprint, and the time is now approaching whereby the turtle overtakes the hare.
North of the US border, in Canada, we have seen the election of Justin Trudeau and here in the UK we have witnessed the meteoric rise of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. The SNP caused a political earthquake in Scotland, Syriza got elected in Greece, and Podemos finished third in Spain despite only having formed in January 2014. This phenomenon may just signal a rejuvenation for the Left and a rejection of neo-liberal policy as a whole.
Ever since Sanders announced that he was to run in the US, I have been attempting to keep tabs on his campaign. In similar circumstances to Corbyn in the UK, Sanders was written off and dismissed as an unrealistic candidate as soon as he threw his hat into the ring. But these suggestions that neither candidate are fit or deserving of being their heads of state owes more to fear than it does to reality.
Both Corbyn and Sanders hold anti-establishment views, and both are highly principled and have long histories of being on the side of the people as opposed to corporate interests. This is why the US media ignores Sanders, with Trump getting 23 times more news coverage, and why Corbyn is attacked at every opportunity, including, hilariously, his choice of Christmas cards.
Bookmakers gave Corbyn odds of 100/1 when he first entered the Labour leadership election, which is unheard of in a four horse race, but despite this, week by week the odds shortened and soon he became favourite, by quite a margin.
I believe that this pattern is now being repeated in the US as more people are becoming aware not only of Sanders and his policies, but also of the tremendous grassroots support that he has which shows no signs of slowing down. Sanders may well ride this wave all the way to the Oval Office.
Over the festive period I looked to see what the odds were on Sanders becoming President. They were at around 26/1, but as election campaign records began to tumble, the odds shortened. By the time I got my act together and placed some money on Sanders, the best odds I could find were 18/1.
A few days after placing that bet Joe Biden, the Vice President of the USA, effectively endorsed Sanders over Hillary Clinton in an interview where he praised Sanders’ “authenticity”. The odds plummeted again.
At the time of writing, Sanders now stands at odds of 7/1, with some bookmakers making it as low as 5/1.
Though Clinton is still deemed to be the favourite, and bookmakers do not know everything – though they did get the outcome of the UK General Election correct something every political pundit and polling agency failed – I genuinely believe that we are witnessing a surge in support for Sanders. A surge that will see him not only defeat Clinton to be the Democratic nomination, but also easily defeat any Republican candidate that takes him on.
All the signs for a Sanders victory are in place already. Not only is there the narrowing, or loss of, Clinton’s lead in polls, as well as the tumbling betting odds, there is also the fact that Sanders’ campaign is raising money faster than even Barrack Obama’s 2008 campaign which sent him to the White House. Time reported on December 21st that Sanders “has broken the fundraising record for most contributions at this point in a presidential campaign, surpassing 2.3 million donations.”
(Incidentally in a 24-hour period a few days ago, following criticism from Clinton, the Sanders campaign raised a staggering $1.4 million)
If current phenomena continue, Sanders is a shoe in, but such a prediction does not belong to a 25-year-old UK blogger alone. Since 1975, Western Illinois University have predicted the results of the Presidential election with 100% accuracy. In November of 2015, the University predicted that Senator Bernie Sanders would defeat Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nomination on his way to the White House.
All of this is being achieved without major corporate backing, without the funds from Wall Street, and without the attention of the mainstream media. It is as democratic a campaign as you can find, from a man intent on taking the US back to its routes.
Whether he is withdrawing from the podium to accommodate Black Lives Matter protesters, inviting young American Muslims on-stage and embracing them, or giving interviews to rappers in barber shops, Sanders is winning support wherever he goes.
His fire continues to grow and it won’t be too long before his political opponents #FeelTheBern.
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