As you now know, Sen. Bernie Sanders will be announcing on Thursday that he will be seeking the Democratic nomination for president. Other than Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders is the only other candidate so far to enter the field on the Democratic side, although former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley is expected to also make his intentions known sometime in the next couple of months.
While many Hillary Clinton supporters have voiced their indignant opposition to his candidacy, it’s actually a good thing for Democrats and Hillary Clinton that Bernie Sanders has decided to get into the race. As I’ve previously written, a Bernie Sanders run for the Democratic nomination provides the competition both she and the primaries desperately need.
If Hillary Clinton ran unopposed and was handed the nomination, it would be a meaningless victory – and I’m not just saying that because I’m not Hillary Clinton’s greatest fan. Bernie Sanders in the race, as a Democrat, will force Hillary to the left and make her address the issues of income inequality and corporate greed. Her greatest flaw to the left is the fact that she is entirely too cozy with Wall Street and corporate campaign donations, as Carl Gibson pointed out on Al-Jazeera America this morning.
When looking deeper into both Sanders and Clinton’s campaign finance records, it’s clear to see which politician is more committed to populist causes. According to Opensecrets.org, Hillary’s top campaign donors throughout her political career include Citigroup ($782,327), Goldman Sachs ($711,490), JPMorgan & Chase ($620,919), and Morgan Stanley ($543,065). By contrast, Bernie Sanders’ top donors are all unions representing working people like teachers, public employees, and postal workers. His top donor, the Machinists/Aerospace Workers Union, has only given $95,000 throughout Sanders’ 17-year political career.
Sanders has never solicited nor accepted any corporate money, and says he’ll keep that promise if he runs for president. Granted, presidential races are outrageously expensive, and most politicians don’t hesitate to break a promise if they think it will secure a victory. But Sen. Sanders, the longest-serving independent member of Congress, is popular with left-leaning voters precisely because of his rebuke of corporate money dominating politics. (Source)
Primaries are meant to pick the best candidate from the field for the general election, and forcing the eventual winner to pay attention to ideas espoused by all candidates in the primaries is the best way to get the most voters in the party to turn out in November.
Hillary Clinton has already addressed the need for criminal justice and police reform, and Bernie Sanders won’t make his announcement official until tomorrow. What will be interesting to see is how she finds a way to balance the tightrope between receiving large donations from the financial sector and placating people on the left like myself who are very uncomfortable with the incredible amount of cash thrown into politics by entities like Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and others. If it wasn’t for Bernie Sanders and other candidates making her deal with potential flaws that you know Republicans will be more than happy to exploit, then you’d have a Democratic nominee wide open for attacks from the GOP and unhappy voters on the left who felt like she was forced on them.
I can tell you that I and quite a few other Bernie Sanders supporters would love to see him run, and win. It is a long shot but even if his candidacy forces Hillary Clinton to the left and she gains his eventual endorsement, it’ll be a lot better than feeling like she was just handed the nomination and we just have to deal with it.
If Hillary Clinton can successfully deal with challenges from the left, then it will make her a much better candidate in the general election. If she can’t, then she didn’t deserve the nomination to begin with – and you know the GOP is going to throw everything they can at her.
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