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It is rare for a third-party candidate to win an election. Since 1990, three men, including Bernie Sanders, have run successful Senate campaigns as Independents. Also, since 1990, six men (including Sanders) have run successful third-party gubernatorial campaigns. He accomplished this two-time feat in the state of Vermont, proving that he is a pro at bucking the system.
Senator Sanders is joining Hillary Clinton and others in a bid for the White House in 2016. He will be introducing his hard left ideology to voters in the coming weeks and months. This time, he is in the Democratic Party’s campaign lineup. Progressive Democrats of America endorses him. The Democratic establishment does not support him, nor does it find much in common with his rhetoric.
This Democratic candidate champions economic inequality, a subject that has been at the forefront of American politics since the Occupy Movement made it a popular topic in 2011. Give him a mic, and he talks about the disappearing middle class, a group that is working longer hours for less pay. The super rich know they do not have a friend in Senator Sanders. He rails against the one percent, stating that 99 percent of all new wealth is going to those in the group.
Senator Sanders has bucked the system in Vermont, and now he is working for a chance to repeat the accomplishment in a much bigger way. He wants to do more than influence the election with his populist message. He wants to do more than win the White House. He wants to lay a foundation for a political revolution.
According to Senator Sanders, the biggest voting bloc is made up of white, working-class people. This bloc intersects with another powerhouse voting bloc, senior voters. It is the senator’s goal to influence these voters and bring them back to the liberal tent with his focus on economic populism. With this change comes the sought after political revolution.
While non-whites embraced Barack Obama’s politics, white voters ran the other way. The President and his advisers guessed, correctly as it turned out, that wooing non-whites was the way to win an election. Senator Sanders counters that, while it is a good way to win an election, it is not the way to win the country. Not only is there no widespread support for the president while he is in office, there is no lasting change in the political arena or in society.
Economic populism is a social coalition based on redistribution of wealth. This is not a new concept in a country where 47 percent of the population receives money from a government program. The infamous 53 percent is growing increasingly tired of doing the work for the entire population, and members of the group have been quite vocal about what they view as President Obama’s socialist agenda.
When it comes to income inequality, the white, middle-class voting bloc may prove that it is not as worried about what the one percent is doing as they are about being able to keep what they have earned. Senator Sanders, with his record of being a big spender, is charging forward with his strategy as the government continues to take an increasing amount of workers’ earnings.
By his own admission, the senator wants to do more than buck the system, he wants to create a revolution. Like President Obama, he has made the decision to focus on a particular voting bloc. He is working to convince these voters that he is the solution, not the problem. With his presidential bid, he will get a chance to see if voters are ready for his new world.
By Shelley Kuziak
Photo by-Creativecommons Flickr License