Just when you thought that the U.S. presidential race was down to just two candidates, Bernie Sanders threw a surprise political punch Tuesday with a substantial win in the West Virginia primary, proving that even a lame horse can come from the back and — possibly — walk away with the Derby title.
Yup, Sanders showed Hillary Clinton once and for all that he may be down but he’s not out yet, picking up 16 delegates in West Virginia (compared to her 11) and re-vowing to stay in the race to the nitty-gritty end.
The leftist Vermont senator may not be working-class and staunchly conservative West Virginians’ ideal candidate, but he is the last Democratic alternative to Clinton, and that says a lot about the mood of voters throughout the United States.
Sanders’ tenacious resurgence at the polls is not so much a show of support by West Virginian voters for his socialist spiel as a proclamation of their dissatisfaction with Clinton and establishment politicians who seem oblivious to their financial and social plights.
Voters across the country are looking for an outsider, someone who they can relate to and who is not a condescending politico that spouts status quo rhetoric from Washington, seemingly oblivious of Middle Americans’ day-to-day woes. (Donald Trump is an example of that same discontent on the Republican side, being heralded by GOP supporters of “a man of the people,” despite that fact that he takes home a 10-figure salary and lives in a $100 million penthouse in Manhattan.)
Establishment pundits and politicos still don’t seem to get it, justifying the quirky success of Sanders and Trump as the result of uninformed and even uneducated voters.
Both Sanders and Trump are the candidates of “anyone but someone from inside the mainstream D.C. beltway.”
They seem to be offering opposite platforms, but in the end, both their spiels come down to “we are going to shake things up in Washington and fix economic stagnation,” whether it be through get-rich schemes for all in the case of Trump or 1960s-Che Guevara-style socialism in the case of Sanders.
Most blue-collar, working-class citizens in the United States see themselves as disenfranchised by an elitist political and economic system that has eroded their lifestyles and decimated any remnants of the now-all-elusive American Dream.
They are looking for change in any form they can take it, and for Democrats, the only alternative to Clinton left in the mix is Sanders.
Sanders’ chances of beating Clinton are slim, but not impossible.
The Democratic Party and Clinton should take note of what happened in the GOP and how a loud-mouth bully with a wad of cash and a questionable political agenda managed to knock out 16 other candidates to grab the gold and become the presumptive party nominee.
If Clinton does not step down from her haughty partisan ivory tower and start relating to voters on their own level, she might just end up seeing her nomination usurped by a septuagenarian Marxist.