Ever since the California primary official results, recently, I and many of the over 12 million progressive-leaning citizens who voted for Sanders were decidedly more somber than before the AP’s now-infamous announcement that Hillary Clinton was the presumptive Democratic nominee. The headline was published on June 6th, the night before the June 7th primary—some say strategically—in California, New Mexico, South Dakota, Montana, and New Jersey.
The current voting system isn’t inspiring a lot of confidence in voters, in part because the electoral college and superdelegates make it difficult for many voters to believe U.S. elections aren’t effectively ‘rigged.’
The idea has been discussed more than once on mainstream news programs such as Morning Joe on NBC, CNN, and Fox News, as well as more progressive, independent news sources like NPR, Democracy Now, and The Young Turks.
Yes, female politicians are judged by different standards than are men—by the media, voters, and other candidates.
This is especially true when considering high-profile women in positions of power, as does Gina Woodall, Professor of Political Science at Arizona State University:
Woodall’s own research and interests surround the relationship between gender and media coverage and gender and political campaigns. She pursues answers to the questions: how are women and men candidates covered differently in the media; what are the implications of this difference; and do men and women candidates use different campaign strategies when running for office?
However, the fact of gender alone does not undo politicians’ stances on policy issues that may be in direct conflict with more economically and socially progressive values, such as those held in many successful, first-world democracies such as New Zealand, Denmark, or Canada. The issue of voting choice and access to polling places is a very real one that is frequently left out of the conversation simply because it’s “not how we do things here” in the United States, despite a substantial number of nations that do so: for example, the UK, Ireland, Australia, and India.
Furthermore, although George Washington University Professor Lara Brown penned this op-ed article on the imminent downfall of the Democratic Party (in its current form) over a year ago, I believe the points she made then apply just as much to our political climate now—if not more so. Although I don’t agree with all of Brown’s conclusions as to how we got here in the first place, she makes an excellent point in agreeing with Dan Balz of The Washington Post, who compared Sanders’ current popularity to the election of Jeremy Corbyn, the new leader of the British Labour Party, in the UK. British society has always been highly stratified and divided along class lines, but this is becoming a more problematic division than in recent decades, pushing the progressive vote farther left than usual.
That remains the sticking point, then: how progressive is the Democratic nominee, in the current election?
The New York Times recently quoted Margaret Saadi Kramer, who voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary, as saying, “You have to give it up for her tenacity and her work ethic.” That’s all Clinton has going for her? Her tenacity and work ethic? I have a lot of tenacity, too; does that make me qualified to be the next Democratic nominee? Obviously, I overstate my point, but one could easily take Clinton’s name out of the picture and put in that of any other hard-working, diligent executive manager or politician. Sheryl Sandberg has a lot of tenacity: should she be our next president? This is the problem with the current state of affairs. If you doubt what I’m saying, you have no further to look than Twitter, where the hashtag #GirlIGuessImWithHer has ‘gone viral.’
I say this as an extension of all the discussions I must entertain in order to remind myself that I still have the ability to observe with a neutral eye and a critical gaze. I doubt the majority of Europe and the rest of the developed world has gone mad. They’re not crazy, nor am I. Rather, they believe in a different way of doing things, and they seem perfectly fine with it.
I, like many others, am fed up: with this joke of a democracy, with the disenfranchisement of 12 million voters whose voices apparently don’t matter and whose concerns haven’t been taken seriously; by a media that largely ignores issues of importance and substance and defers to clickbait and paid talking heads that feign neutrality; at the dripping condescension the mainstream media has had for Sanders at every turn.
I could go on.
However, I’m primarily concerned with one major problem: the Democratic Party is imploding. Not only that, but many believe it should implode.
It must implode, some argue, because Democrats look an awful lot like Republicans of old, and progressive representatives are difficult to spot amid a sea of Representatives and Senators who consistently pander to Wall Street, the fossil fuel industry, and other multinational, corporate interests contributing to the destruction of the middle class, making it inevitable that people living in poverty will remain there for much longer than should be the case.
The middle class is disappearing in large part to two main factors: first, salaries and income levels have not risen at the same rate as inflation; second, there is now an entire generation of college graduates burdened with perversely high levels of debt, right out of the proverbial gates: many under the age of 45 must choose between paying back their student loans and buying a house. It’s either/or, rather than both—even if you’re married. As a result, many are choosing to eschew the idea of purchasing a house altogether, opting instead to rent, co-house, buy land for alternative housing construction, or live on the road.
If we’re lucky, the Democratic Party leadership will listen to the millions of voters who chose Sanders over Clinton and appeal to at least some of their concerns. At any rate, I don’t think it would be wise to allow this moment to pass us by—all of us. We’re in this together, as a nation and as a party. It may be possible to leverage our buying power, so to speak, by seeing our votes in a similar light as the power unions have to negotiate terms of their contract in order to come to a fair agreement for all parties involved. After all, this isn’t ‘winner take all,’ nor should it be.
In order for the Democratic Party to remain relatively intact, it must take the lead of the younger generation and the rest of the developed world and realize that the country is drifting left, not right. When compared to economic and social policies prevalent in European countries, such as single-payer healthcare and free education, our standard for what is considered ‘centrist’ is skewed dramatically to the right.
Here’s hoping Democratic Party leaders come to their senses, come convention time this fall, and listen to all members of their party—rather than simply those who fell in line with the mainstream media narrative and the status quo. The future of our country—and our planet—depends on it.