The Democratic Presidential Primary has shifted into high gear.With many of the other distractions gone, the race is finally focusing on the showdown between former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
The speculation regarding Vice President Joe Biden’s potential bid has finally ended with the Veep deciding against the presidential run. Following lackluster performances in the first CNN debate, former Virginia Senator Jim “where’s my time” Webb and former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln “I think you’re being a little rough” Chafee dropped out of the race. As former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has failed to gain any serious increase in the polls and Lawrence Lessig isn’t even being let on the debate stage, the only legitimate challenger to the Hillary Clinton is Bernie Sanders.
When Bernie declared his presidential run in May, no one would have ever guessed the 74 year-old Jewish self-described “democratic socialist” would have any chance. But, in the past months, Bernie’s unprecedented grassroots campaign has become a force to be reckoned with. Sanders is now trailing Hillary by only 3 points in Iowa and leading Hillary by 15 points in New Hampshire. Financially, he has risen over $41.5 million from over 680,000 unique donors.
After the first Democratic debate, many pundits hailed Hillary has the champion, while many polls declared Bernie the winner. Regardless, the debate proved a turning point in the race.
Sanders, who has never run an attack-ad in his political career, has begun to draw the larger differences between him and Hillary. He went on a tear against Hillary’s flip-flopping in an enthusiastic speech at the Iowa Democratic Party Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. Bernie discussed how throughout his career, he has met a “fork in the road” many times, and has stuck to his principles, voting for things that might not be the most politically popular.
He asserted his opposition to the Trans-Pacific-Partnership, railing that it never was nor never has been the “gold standard of trade deals,” a reference to Hillary’s support of the TPP as Secretary, but has now come out in opposition to it. He maintained his opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, which Hillary supported as Secretary, but has come out against recently. (See a pattern here?). He voted against the Iraq War, while Hillary did, calling her vote a “mistake.” He voted against the Defense of Marriage Act, which Hillary supported, and fought for gay rights even when the majority of the nation did not support same-sex marriage. He said he will never support legislation discriminating others, just because it is “politically expedient” to do so.
If there’s any proof that Hillary is “feeling the Bern” of the latest gains by the Sanders campaign, look no further than her most recent veiled attack at the Vermont Senator.
During the first Democratic debate, in regards to the fiery debate over gun control, that not even “all the shouting in the world” can solve the nation’s gun ills. From the NRA to the right, to gun control activists on the left, a debate fueled by passions will not bring people together to solve gun control issues, Sanders argues. In Bernie’s eyes, gun violence is not a black and white issue, and has noted that guns in rural areas like Vermont can have entirely different connotations than guns in urban areas like Los Angeles.
In rural areas, guns tend to be used for hunting activities, while in urban areas, gun use tends to be more correlated with crime and gang violence. He is for universal background checks and ending the gun show loophole, but he believes that gun violence is more of a symptom of systemic inequalities and societal problems rather than something determined by legislation.
The Clinton campaign didn’t take it that way. In the following week of campaign stops, Clinton stated:
You know I’ve been told to stop, and I quote, ‘shouting’ about gun violence. Well, first of all, I’m not shouting. It’s just [that] when women talk, some people think we’re shouting. I will not be silenced, because we will not be silenced,”
Yes. Hillary Clinton is saying that Bernie Sanders, the man who identifies himself as a feminist, has a 100% pro-choice rating, and has fought for social equality throughout his whole life, is a sexist.
Clinton has also pulled the “race card” against Sanders previously. Earlier this summer when Bernie Sanders’ speech in Seattle was disrupted by Black Lives Matter activists, Hillary portrayed Sanders, who was part of Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘March on Washington’ and was arrested for protesting segregation, as indifferent on race.
This is the problem with the Clinton campaign. The Clinton campaign is so desperate to eliminate the threat of Sanders, they’re resorting to the same type of substance-less derogatory name-calling that they’ve detested from Republicans. There’s little difference between Republicans calling President Obama a “socialist” or “Muslim” and the Clinton campaign calling Sanders “sexist” or “racist,” except the Clinton campaign is more insinuating it, as opposed to Republicans being a bit more explicit.
President Obama did not pull the “race card” extensively throughout the 2008 campaign, so there is no reason Hillary should be able to pull the “gender card” in 2016.
Photo Credit Joe Raedle / Getty Images / Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times / Scott Olson