When Hillary Clinton launched her presidential campaign 10 months ago, not many people would have been bold (or crazy) enough to predict the current state of the Democratic primaries. This was meant to be a formality for her, a walk in park with no real obstacles to her path as nominee. Yet, pushed to the limit in Iowa and comprehensively defeated in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton is now facing the very real prospect of losing to 74 year old Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Will she, (as Sanders supporters like to say) continue to feel and possibly succumb to the Bern?
A major factor which has led to this two horse race has been Clinton’s lack of attractiveness among younger voters. Sanders’ promise to make college tuition free and Clinton’s pledge have them become affordable has left the latter reeling from a mass exodus of young voters moving to the Sanders camp. In fact, in Iowa Sanders won the 17-29 year old vote by a staggering margin of 84-14. Not even Barack Obama was able to galvanise the youth in the same way Sanders has. Much of this is down to a generational rift when it comes to to the age-old Socialism/Capitalism debate, with younger voters holding the former more favourably. Sanders’ self proclaimed ‘Democratic Socialism’ is the closest thing that fits the bill for them it seems.
Furthermore, the once latent discontent in the way American politics has been run has led to more radical measures being seen as acceptable. Only 29% of Americans feel that their country is going in the right direction, while a measly 13% approve of the job their Congress has been doing. With this in mind it’s no surprise that part of this is discontent has manifested itself in the metoric rise of Sanders (we need not talk about his Republican counterparts). While Hillary Clinton wishes the raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour, Bernie wants it at $15 an hour, and he has the backing of prominent political economist Robert Reich whenever his ideas face any clout for being ‘radical’.
I think that Hillary Clinton’s weak attempts to paint herself as not part of the establishment have also been to her detriment. Receiving millions of dollars from big banks Sanders’ is willing to ‘break up’ proves otherwise. If she was more honest on this subject it’s likely she would probably alienate less potential supporters. In fact, I think if she spent more time talking about the sheer number of congressional endorsements (they number in the hundreds) and explaining her potential as a unifying factor in Congress, perhaps she wouldn’t find herself in the position she is right now. Accusing Bernie supporters of conducting an ‘artful smear’ against is probably not going to do her any real good.
All eyes are now turned to South Carolina, where Clinton is expected to win quite easily, but I’m sure that she has now realised any complacency from her could, dare I say it, lead to a repeat of her infamous 2008 campaign.
But that’s just my take. Agree, disagree? Drop a comment below?