By Nitya Chakraborty :
Nevada results have given a new perspective to the changes that are taking place in the voting behaviour of the supporters of the Democratic Party and how the Vermont Senator is getting support from all sections of the US population on the basis of his democratic socialist programme.
BERNIE Sanders’ overwhelming victory at Nevada caucus on February 22 is a major development in the present campaign for the Democratic Party nomination for the Presidential poll on November 3 this year. Nevada results have given a new perspective to the changes that are taking place in the voting behaviour of the supporters of the Democratic Party and how the Vermont Senator is getting support from all sections of the US population on the basis of his democratic socialist programme.
The big significance of the Nevada outcome is that it shows that a fundamental realignment is taking place in the US electoral politics. Nevada, unlike Iowa and New Hampshire is not dominated by the older, wealthy white Americans but a cosmopolitan and multi-racial state where the pro-Obama democrat Biden, was supposed to get maximum support from the democratic voters. But the huge margin achieved by Sanders against Biden proves that Sanders has been able to secure the support of the maximum latinos and other immigrant workers who responded positively to his medicare for all programme. The voting figures also show that Sanders got support from all sections of the society.
Nevada electorate profile is on similar lines of the 14 States which will go for primary elections on March 2 called Super Tuesday and there is no doubt now that the Nevada model might be repeated there in more or less same manner. If that happens, Sanders will be unstoppable and he will finally get the Democratic Party nomination at the convention in Milwaukee. As the US election experts point out the trend of voting by the immigrant workers has some similarity with the situation before Roosevelt came to power.
The New Deal was made possible with a new electorate. The first and second generation of eastern European immigrants brought Roosevelt to power and now, in a similar fashion, the immigrants of first and second generation Latinos have solidly stood behind Sanders. This did not happen in 2016 campaign and Biden was so long depending on this support base of Barrack Obama. As the campaign gathers momentum and the elections are held in key primaries of the Rust Belt, Sanders’s anti-establishment outsider image and his programme focussed on real welfare of the poor, middle class and the immigrants, is winning non-partisans and many of the voters who did not vote for the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016 elections.
That way, Bernie has been able to expand the base of the pro-active Democratic Party members and impart in them the contours of his political programme. Sanders’ organisation “Our Revolution” is organizing people at the grass roots level in favour of his programme and he is expected to coordinate his efforts with other sections of the American people who have been affected adversely by the policies of the Trump presidency. The view has gained ground in the Democratic Party that Hillary lost good support of the poor and middle class as she was seen as an out and out pro status quo and few believed her promise of change in favour of working people in the course of campaign. Many voters thought that she would be the same pro-Wall Street President once she is elected.
This feeling should help the progressives within the Democratic Party led by Sanders to have more dominating role in the affairs of the Party in the coming days. In fact, the US labour movement which has been basically dominated by the conservatives, has undergone a radical change in the course of the latest Presidential election campaign. The Labour for Bernie movement has imparted a left orientation to the thinking in the US trade union movement and many veteran centrist and left leaning trade union leaders have got themselves mobilised in favour of Bernie feeling that a progressive change is still possible. Bernie’s campaign has been able to unite the Labour left and many of them have become part of the Our Revolution platform.
What is significant about the American polity today is that the talk of inequality and socialism as also the crony capitalism have become the discussion points in the middle America drawing rooms which was not the situation before Bernie started the campaign. From Jessie Jackson to Dennis Kuci-nich to Howard Dean, many peoples leaders made a splash in the Democratic Presidential elections but none could make anti-capitalist agenda so popular as Sanders has done. His no nonsense class based politics is a measure of how there is big disillusionment in America with the ideology of free market. Bernie has been successful in channelising the anger of the younger Americans who are fed up with neo-liberal policies at home. In US, the Left as a political force has been always miniscule though in the area of ideas, the Left leaning intellectuals commanded wide respect.
Untill now, the critical moments of left advance in America, the Seattle WTO protests, the anti-war movement, Occupy Wall Street as also the campaigns for gay rights and Black Lives Matter- have taken place outside electoral politics. Whatever might be the level of participation, its impact on electoral politics has been insignificant. For the first time, that is going to change and this is not a one shot affair because there is a big urge among the younger followers of Sanders to take it forward to its logical conclusion But the path may not be the bed of roses. As one close confidante of Sanders says as the movement advances and the Democratic Party establishment gets worried, there might be odds as the Wall Street will be equally active and look for ways to stop this surge for Bernie as the Democratic Party nominee for Presidential poll. One leading academic close to Sanders says “the more successful we are, the more perilous the political situation is likely to become”.
He explained “the difference between Marxists today and those before us is that except for the glassy eyed sectarian religionists, we no longer have the solace of teleological confidence. There is no millenarian moment, no objective moment of the crash. We don’t know which way history will go, we can only try to influence history”. That is what Bernie is trying to do now.