Northwest Missourian Opinion

Unless they have been living under a rock for the better part of the past year or two — in which case I don’t blame them one bit — one would know that we’ve undoubtedly had a record number of candidates seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. Since President Donald Trump was elected in 2016, some 28 people have put their hats in the ring in an effort to take him down. As of Tuesday, all but five have dropped out of the race, the most recent being Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. 

It’s no surprise that most campaigns this election cycle have failed to even get off the ground. Call it survival of the fittest, to say the least, or an episode of “Survivor,” whichever floats your boat.

Among those still standing is Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. His radical policies have repeatedly been criticized for their uber-progressive, socialist leanings, like government-subsidized healthcare, ending electronic voting in elections, free college and cancellation of student loan debt, to name a few — but all told, he has become a trailblazer in progressive politics. 

I say progressive while erring on the side of caution. There have been rumblings lately that Sanders is considered too progressive — that is, some fear more moderate-leaning voters might jump ship and join the so-called Trump Train, costing the Democrats valuable delegates in its wake. After all, most left-leaners in this day and age could care less about what policies matter to whom — they just want someone to do our commander-in-chief in.

After his unsurprising, but hair-splitting victory in the New Hampshire primary, taking just over 25% of the vote, Sanders’ campaign has taken the fast track, coming in hot against candidates like former South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. The Nevada caucus also helped to push him further into the Democratic lead.

His popularity among college students is increasing as well. In a weekly survey conducted by the college textbook service Chegg, nearly 60% of Democratic voters aged 18-24 plan to support Sanders as their nominee for president. He is even more popular among minority voters, with almost two-thirds of blacks and 70% of Hispanics behind him. Voters on the LGBTQ+ spectrum also hold Sanders in high regard with, again, nearly two-thirds of the vote.

Among other policies being pushed by Sanders include federal legalization of pot (and doing away with prior convictions), bringing broadband high-speed internet to rural areas and the elimination of private correctional institutions and mandatory minimum prison sentences.

All this raises some questions — could all this change backfire on the Democratic Party? Is Bernie “too liberal” to defeat Trump in the 2020 general election?

His support base seems to hold firm on his laundry list of policy changes. Abdul El-Sayed, a staunch Sanders supporter and former Michigan gubernatorial candidate, said this shift is all but necessary for left-wingers.

“People who have been locked out of power are speaking up about corporate influence over the issues that matter in their lives,” El-Sayed said in an interview with The Washington Post. “What you’re seeing is a necessary and natural readjustment in the Democratic Party.”

Despite the fact he might be making too many changes in too short a span, I’m willing to give the guy a chance, as every Democrat should. The least Bernie can do is boot the guy that’s  in the Oval Office out. Boy, wouldn’t that be nice.


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