The Sanders legacy: a vote for lasting change

Dissuaded Sanders voters serve as the potential catalyst for a real Trump White House.

Andy Stec, Senior Columnist

People who are familiar with my previous articles know that I was in vehement opposition to Secretary Clinton and voted for Senator Bernie Sanders in the primaries. Indeed, most people who attend Hamline can surmise that much from a casual observation of any student here. The passionate following Sanders created from his campaign was nothing short of revolutionary. This was a candidate that was predicted to be crushed in the Iowa Caucus by double digits, and instead lost by the closest margin in DNC party history. This was a campaign that galvanized a generation of young, politically active people and joined them with the oft-overlooked hardworking men and women of the American middle class. Attending his rallies was a breath of invigoration and excitement – we could be a part of a movement that could really change things.

Sanders didn’t win the Democratic Primaries. That much is history written in stone, and one that’s been written before. Memories of Paul Wellstone and Al Gore remind us that political surprises, and disappointments, are not something new to this election. The world we live in is the one we get, and the two-party system of proverbial political oligarchy is the reality we’ve inherited.

The Bernie Sanders campaign made what was already known even more prominent: we live in a fraudulent system. It is no large secret that a vast majority of the American public despises the candidates they now must choose from—and it is perhaps only natural that people seek out alternative options. I know of plenty of students who, upon questioned about their stance on the election, readily state that they’re putting their vote in a third party candidate.

When a fraudulent system thrives for generations, that system becomes an expert at ruthless self-preservation. Our world is not one where the entirety of the two-party system can be overthrown in a single election. As appealing as candidates like Jill Stein and Gary Johnson might be, there is a stark difference between a vote for them and a vote for Bernie Sanders. One was grounded in working within the confines of the system in hopes of bringing about change, the other is based in willing naiveté.

Stein is a single-issue candidate, as is the unfortunate curse of the Green Party in its entirety. Furthermore, her stances on many normally liberal platforms is questionable: she doesn’t agree with clean nuclear energy, nutrient-enriched GMOs or life-saving vaccines. In reality, it was only this year that the Green Party removed its endorsement of homeopathic medicine from its official party stance—no doubt due to the hope that this election year would bolster their ranks with leagues of newly dissuaded voters.

Johnson isn’t much better. The Libertarian Party as a whole is made up of the misguided ideals of Reaganomics, mixed with the worst of deregulation, and sprinkled on top with liberal social policies like marijuana legalization and LGBTQIA+ acceptance. Worse yet, the Johnson-Weld campaign has made dubious statements as to the ‘legitimacy’ of global warming being a serious national security concern. Johnson used to be a Republican for a reason.

The Sanders dream isn’t dead, and his backing of Clinton should not lead people to believe such. His support of the candidate he’d stood so starkly against is directly related to the fact that a Trump presidency would have a real, negative impact on American citizens. Let us not ignore that Sanders has pushed the Clinton platform, and indeed the DNC platform, to the most liberal it has been in some time. Meanwhile, the Trump-Pence platform is the most reprehensible in recent GOP history—driving away the most leal of Republican supporters (former president George HW Bush plans to vote for Clinton).

The Sanders campaign is not a dream deferred, but a dream which accepts reality. The reality that each vote for a third party candidate only makes the prospect of a Trump administration all the more real. It is a dream which asks you to play ball for just a bit longer—because our political system does not have time for moral or protest votes. It is a realist system, and it demands you be the same—if only for a little while longer.

Bernie Sanders has galvanized a movement, one which will make the prospect of a ‘socialist’ candidate in 2020 and 2024 all the more likely and comfortable to the average American voter. Be the change you wish to see within the system, play by the rules and let the system be upturned by prolonged, legitimate, and lasting change.