Noah van Mierlo is a junior from the Netherlands studying political science. He enjoys watching soccer and commenting on the circus of American politics on his twitter, @NoahvanMierlo
Who would’ve thought that a white 74-year-old democratic socialist could’ve given the great Hillary Clinton a true run for her money?
Not that many people, that’s for sure. But since announcing, he’s won over support of many democrats and independents – the majority of them young voters, shown by how Senator Sanders earned the vote of 84% of voters aged 17-29 in the Iowa caucuses. However, while it’s good that the junior Senator from Vermont is engaging young people in politics, there has been a major side effect of this, which might just mean that a Republican wins the White House in 2016.
In the years leading up to 2016, it was almost inevitable that Hillary Clinton would win the presidency. Former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State, Clinton had the experience and name recognition necessary to win. But, when Sanders emerged as a formidable opponent, liberals were given an alternative to Clinton, which meant that, as Sanders’s opponent in the primary, Clinton would have to try to win over those who prefer the 74-year-old. Since Sanders is farther to the left, his supporters tend to be more extreme Democrats, which means that they’ve become very passionate about the Senator – which breeds anti-Hillary rhetoric. “She’s just a lying and flip-flopping politician”, they would say. While Clinton may be more moderate, this is because she wants to be able to pull in moderates in the general election, were she to win the primary. However, this strong hatred towards Clinton among Bernie supporters is bad news, for Democrats around the country.
If you look at their platforms, Clinton and Sanders aren’t too far apart. Both are pro-LGBT rights, both want to combat climate change, both want to repeal Citizens United, both want to raise the minimum wage… The list goes on. By this logic, were Clinton to beat Sanders to the Democratic nomination, she would be able to pull in former Sanders supporters. However, because of the spreading hatred of Hillary, many have said that they’ll either vote third party in the general election or abstain from voting at all.
Following conventional logic, doing so would be counter-productive to the interests of Sanders supporters. The reality is that Hillary Clinton is most likely going to be the democratic nominee. Not since 1992 has a candidate won the nomination without winning Iowa (even though, yes, her win was only by 0.2%) – and that was Bill Clinton. Furthermore, Sanders’s popularity and name recognition is low among minority voters, which is a group that Clinton has historically done well with. Without the minority vote, Sanders simply won’t do well on Super Tuesday (when the majority of Southern states vote) and will fall behind in the delegate count. One can point to the overwhelmingly white populations of Iowa and New Hampshire on how Sanders was able to come to close in one and win the other.
If people on the left want to continue and build on the progress that President Obama has made, they need to recognize that this can be done with either Sanders or Clinton, and that either of them would be better than any Republican candidate. This election matters for a lot of reasons, and low voter turnout among far-left Democrats if Clinton is the nominee shouldn’t decide the election. So, democrats plead to all you Sanders supporters: if Hillary Clinton is the nominee, please, please, just think of the bigger picture.
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