Bernie Sanders can make a difference

by Jim Longworth

In 2007 Hillary Clinton was the presumptive Democratic nominee for President, but she was derailed by a man with better ideas, more charisma, and a bigger following. Now, eight years later, Hillary is once again the presumptive nominee of her party. The problem for Mrs. Clinton, though, is that history might repeat itself. She may once again be derailed by a man with better ideas, more charisma, and a bigger following. That man is Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a 73-year-old political rebel who neither party has been able to buy or bully.

Sanders officially launched his campaign for the White House on May 26, with polls showing him trailing Hillary by 38 points in New Hampshire. By the end of June he had cut that lead down to 8. And not only is he gaining on the Democratic favorite, he’s actually beating the Republicans’ top guns in headto-head match-ups. He leads Jeb Bush 48% to 47%, Scott Walker 48% to 42%, and Donald Trump 59% to 38%. Yes it’s early in the process, but those kinds of numbers should cause serious concern among the old guard in both parties. Right now, those party loyalists are holding on to the hope that Americans who agree with Bernie’s approach to government will come to their senses by February. But what if they don’t?

Everywhere Sanders appears in public, he draws record crowds, and they have the same enthusiasm for him as did the crowds who showed up for candidate Obama in 2008. What’s more, Bernie is a master at using social media and the internet, which helps him reach and communicate with followers in every State. Last month, for example, he gave a speech via video simulcast and invited small groups of supporters to gather and watch the webcast. In Winston-Salem alone, over 150 of his supporters attended the event, and at Democratic headquarters no less. That was just one of the more than 3,500 such gatherings nationwide which drew over 100,000 devotees.

One of those supporters was John Schoonover who told The Greensboro News & Record, “I’ve never worn anybody’s button before, but Bernie’s different.”

That’s an understatement. Bernie is one of the few elected officials who voted against the invasion of Iraq in 2003 (Hillary and the GOP field supported that war).

He’s for universal health care and a single payer system, calling it “Medicare for all.” (All of the other candidates merely fought over what part of a flawed system they liked). Bernie supported same sex marriage throughout his political career (Hillary just came to her senses on that issue two years ago). He is pushing for free tuition at public universities, and has made income inequality the lynchpin of his campaign. And he opposed the Trans Pacific Partnership, which will just continue the devastation NAFTA has already wrought on the American middle class. He’s also the oldest Presidential candidate in the race, the longest serving independent in the United States Senate, and he’s Jewish. Yeah, I’d say Bernie Sanders is different, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Here in America we tend to writeoff candidates who aren’t part of the political mainstream because we’re told by columnists and pundits that so-called fringe candidates can’t win. And even though we might believe in what that fringe candidate stands for, we tend to vote for the more established politicians because our guy just doesn’t stand a chance. Well Bernie Sanders does stand a chance, and if everyone who agrees with his positions votes for him in the primaries, then he will be the Democratic Presidential nominee in 2016. Yes Bernie Sanders is different, and it’s a difference we should all embrace. !

JIM LONGWORTH is the host of “Triad Today,” airing on Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. on ABC45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 11 a.m. on WMYV (cable channel 15).