Hillary Clinton is not the inevitable nominee for the Democratic Party in 2016. She was not inevitable in 2008, and she is not now.
Democratic voters as well as Independents will vote for the candidate who shares their values and views so long as they still believe that candidate can win in the general election. Most mainstream media outlets have propagated the idea that Hillary Clinton is inevitable, and that voters should rally behind her immediately to save her chances in the general election. Generally, these pundits’ arguments rely on beliefs that Hillary is the moderate candidate who can sway people away from Trump.
It is not over for Bernie. Sanders has extremely passionate supporters, and he has consistently polled better than Clinton in hypothetical general-election matchups against the Republican frontrunners. As of March 18, Hillary Clinton has 1,147 pledged delegates, and Bernie Sanders has 830 pledged delegates of the 2,383 needed to get the democratic nomination. In total there are approximately 4,768 delegates, pledged and unpledged, which means that there are plenty more to go around. But Sanders will need bigger wins in states such as Arizona and Washington in the coming months in order to make up his current deficit.
Sanders will have a difficult final stretch in the primary season. While he has maintained significantly higher favorability among younger voters, the young are generally less likely to turn out to vote than the old. Politico recently pointed out that between March 5 and March 26, over 500,000 college students are on spring break when campaigns will be heading to campuses. Early primaries and caucuses are predominantly Southern, and the proliferation of voter identification laws is disproportionately preventing young voters from voting, even when they’ve already registered. Charles Blow of The New York Times recently pointed out that Sanders’ civil rights advocacy is “strangely devoid of southern touchstones,” and that hurt his numbers among black voters in the South.
The best thing that Sanders can do to get ahead of Hillary is to accentuate their differences.
Sanders has stood up for liberal values for a much longer time than Clinton. He was arrested in Aug. 1963 for protesting segregated housing owned by the University of Chicago, while Clinton campaigned for Barry Goldwater who supported repealing the Civil Rights Act in 1964. On May 11, 1995, Sanders accosted a representative on the floor of the house for his derogatory use of his phrase “Homos in the military,” referring to homosexual men and women whom Sanders said were being denied their basic human rights. Hillary supported the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, and has only supported gay marraige since 2013 despite her previous claims that she believes marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman. The most radical difference is that Sanders intends to remove the corrupting influence of corporate money from politics.
Sanders’ intense focus on getting money out of politics completely contrasts with the efforts of Clinton. Sanders has raised the vast majority of his money in small contributions directly from individuals. Clinton and many other politicians rely on political action committees that can receive unlimited amounts of money to fund major campaign activities. To evade laws prohibiting direct coordination with PACs, campaigns usually put out hours of footage and audio of the candidates that PACs can edit on their own.
Clinton has said that she wants to get money out of politics, too, but this can be seen as disingenuous. Sanders has called her out on her claim numerous times. He has talked about how a certain “other candidate” in the race has super PACs and most of the individual contributions to her campaign come in the form of the maximum amount of $2,700. Sander’s average contribution is only $27. Nobody really wants to spend all of their waking hours fundraising, but if she were really serious about getting the corrupting influence of money out of politics, Clinton would lead by example like Sanders.
The companies that portray Clinton as the inevitable nominee would be best served by her hypothetical pro-business administration. Clinton is the business candidate. It is plain to see that she is beholden to the Wall Street firms, private prison companies, and the other special interests that donate to her campaign, philanthropic organization, and super PACs.
The recent debate in Flint, Mich. encapsulated exactly what kind of politicians Clinton and Sanders are. Clinton has attempted to deceive the public about Sanders’ record by picking out negative components of larger pieces of legislation in order to make Sanders look like he is against the policies and interests which he has always claimed to work for. Most notably, she twisted Sanders’ universal health care plan by arguing that it would eliminate people’s insurance policies under the Affordable Care Act.
Clinton is always very well-rehearsed, and she usually goes for the easy one-liner. She does this to get political points, while Sanders says what he believes.
Featured Image by Carolyn Kaster / AP Photo