Sanders’ popularity represents U.S. discontent

More people feel positively about Bernie Sanders’ plans for a socialist America.

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Justin Yun, Writer

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“I endorse Brother @BernieSanders because he is a long-distance runner with integrity in the struggle for justice for over 50 years,” Cornel West exclaimed on his official Twitter page. With the blessing from a well-known public intellectual and one of the most prominent Democratic Socialists in the nation, Bernie Sanders’ popularity has only grown ever since his unheralded entrance into the race.

A HEAVYWEIGHT IN THE ELECTION

The once little-known senator from Vermont is now considered a heavyweight in the upcoming presidential elections. Once elected mayor of Burlington in 1981, Sanders has also been a representative for Vermont’s at-large congressional district for 16 years until he was elected senator in 2006. Before Sanders entered the race, he was well-known for being the leading progressive voice in his state, and according to his senate page, is known as the “longest serving independent member of Congress in American history.

With his popularity surging in the last few months, it is riveting to see a self-professed Democratic Socialist going neck-and-neck with his other Democratic running mate, Hillary Clinton. Sanders has seen huge support, with his campaign pulling in more that $15.2 million with “68 percent from donations of $200 or less.” Sanders has not only raised more money than any Republican contender, but has even challenged Clinton, whose campaign has so far generated a record $46 million.

GRASSROOTS FUNDRAISING

While the Clinton political machine continues to haul in big money, Sanders has created a large following with a colossal grassroots fundraising campaign. To put it simply, many Democrats are shifting their loyalty from Clinton to Sanders primarily because Sanders is seen as more of the “people’s candidate.” While Clinton’s reputation has been affected by her email scandal, many Sanders supporters also see Clinton’s downfall to her connections to large corporations and big banks and compare that to Sanders’ connections to workers and teachers’ unions. Yet, during the Democratic debate on Tuesday evening, Sanders dismissed this objection to Clinton by noting that the American people are “sick and tired” about hearing about her emails.

The fact is, many Americans are tired of politicians being subservient to the interests of Corporate America. The popularity of the Occupy Movement, a wave of demonstrations against income and wealth inequality, has changed many people’s current views on politics. According to Pew Research, over half of 18-28-year-olds today have a positive view of Socialism. Sanders is seen as the only candidate tackling wealth inequality, the private prison industrial complex, police brutality and is known to be an ardent opponent to the Koch Brothers and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

TIRED OF THE TYPICAL CONGRESSMAN

These issues are seen to be the symptoms of a state capitalist system that continues to serve the so-called one percent instead of the 99 percent. Sanders once stated, “Let us wage a moral and political war against the billionaires and corporate leaders, on Wall Street and elsewhere, whose policies and greed are destroying the middle class of America.” With the government bailing out big banks with $700 billion of taxpayer’s money, people are tired of the typical congressman supported by Goldman Sachs or Citibank. Eugene V. Debs once said, “Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization,” and the discontent present in our society has only fueled the flames of Sanders’ rise to national prominence, as illustrated by the $1.3 million raised in donations from viewers during the Oct. 13 Democratic debate.

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Sanders’ popularity represents U.S. discontent