It is not only American politics which has suddenly been galvanized by anti-establishment candidates. Here in the United Kingdom, every script the political establishment has tried to force down our throats has been flipped this summer, which leads me to speculate that the neoliberal consensus forced through by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher decades ago is slowly coming to an end.
Across Europe, the mantra that left-wing political parties have to adapt to Tony Blair and Bill ClintonBill ClintonTrump sends GOP pivoting to nowhere Politics and the perils of protectionism Trump on NAFTA: Renegotiate or withdraw MORE’s ‘third way’ policies in order to succeed was picked apart in 2015 by convincing success stories. Podemos in Spain have just completely destroyed the two-party system, and radical left party Syriza from Greece have been locking horns with the European Union over bailouts and economic reform over the last twelve months.
If you read anything other than the Huffington Post, you will recognise the narrative in the mainstream media is that Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonPolitics and the perils of protectionism EXCLUSIVE: Pro-Hillary group takes 0K in banned donations Clinton’s 9 most likely VP picks MORE has the Democratic nomination locked up. Of course, that is exactly what they said last time. During the closing months of 2015, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPolitics and the perils of protectionism EXCLUSIVE: Pro-Hillary group takes 0K in banned donations Clinton campaign seeks to shut door on Trump in Pennsylvania MORE (I-Vt.) was higher in the polls than Barack ObamaBarack ObamaPolitics and the perils of protectionism Trump on NAFTA: Renegotiate or withdraw Reid: Rubio should be sued over missed votes MORE was in 2007. In October 2007, Clinton had a thirty point lead over Obama, whereas in October 2015 she was only twenty points ahead of Sanders. In the first set of key states, Sanders has a ten-point lead in New Hampshire, is reportedly within the margin of error in recent Iowa polls and continues to gain nationally. It is worth noting that Hillary Clinton is still the frontrunner, but the tide turned after Obama’s first primary victory, and the tide can easily turn again. If Sanders can mimic Obama by winning Iowa and surpass him by taking New Hampshire, the potential is there for a bitter sense of déjà vu.
The truth is that Sanders is mobilizing an extensive network across the country. He has raised more money than all of the GOP candidates combined with only 1/23rd of the media coverage dedicated to him compared to vacuous fascist Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump sends GOP pivoting to nowhere Politics and the perils of protectionism Clinton’s 9 most likely VP picks MORE. In March 2015, he was polling 6 percent and entered 2016 with a 30 percent share of the vote. This would be an unprecedented boom in support for a self-proclaimed democratic socialist if it were not for the rise of Jeremy Corbyn in the United Kingdom. Only one mainstream political commentator, Stephen Bush of the New Statesman, predicted the rise of Jeremy Corbyn. Only one mainstream political commentator, H.A Goodman, has consistently backed Sanders to succeed. It would be foolish to write him off as we move closer to February 1.
Sanders has mobilised volunteers in a similar manner to Jeremy Corbyn, masterminding digital campaigns which inspire people enough to form real grassroots movements in their communities which advocate policies that the majority of the public actually agree with. Recent polling shows Sanders would wipe Trump off the map in this year’s presidential election by a staggering landside and perform better in the presidential election than Hillary Clinton, despite calls from her allies that he is unelectable. This accusation levelled at Sanders has no discernible evidence, in fact the opposite.
The Progressive Change Institute has recently polled some of the ideas Sanders has brought into the political arena, and the results clearly insinuate that the public are on board with his policy agenda. 71 percent believe in a huge infrastructure program to create jobs and tuition free college education. 59 percent are in favour of raising taxes on the rich and 55 percent believe a financial transactions tax should be implemented on Wall Street.
With this stunning level of support from not only Democrats but Republicans and Independents as well, it is no surprise that Clinton’s corporate war chest of donations has struggled to halt the progressive surge thus far, and as Sanders gears up to release a full tax plan ahead of the Iowa vote, it is only going to get harder for Clinton in the coming weeks.
Turner is a freelance political commentator in the United Kingdom.