Wednesday’s DNC Debate: The Rise of the Revolutionaries

Two interesting developments happened in the political sphere this week. One, Tuesday’s primaries held a surprising victory for Bernie Sanders in Michigan, where he won 67 delegates that night. This is certainly a historic victory; Clinton was the frontrunner by an average of 20 points in the Great Lakes State. Furthermore, the voter turnout was enormous in comparison to previous years, to the point of breaking a 1972 record of 1.9 million people. Sanders has time and time again pointed to low voter turnout as a impediment to his success in this election. And he does have a point: younger people tend to make up the majority’s of Sanders’ support base, but when push comes to shove voter turnout for those aged 18–29 was depressingly low in the previous presidential election. Was Michigan an example of a silent majority becoming louder?

“What I’ve said over and over again, is we will do well when young people when working class people come out, we do not do well when voter turnout is not large,” Sanders said. “We did not do as good a job as I had wanted to bring out a large turnout.”

A second development was the outcome of Wednesday night’s Democrat debate. Although public opinion polls have been showing that Clinton “won” the debate, Sanders’ attacks on Clinton have been becoming more succinct and directed. He repeatedly calls for her to release the transcripts of her paid Wall Street speeches. All of his attacks contribute to his image as a class warrior, fighting for the rights of those who cannot fight for themselves.

Although he’s officially an independent senator, Sanders decided to compete for the Democratic nomination. Bernie Sanders, although wrought with progressive viewpoints, repeatedly makes people question why he is running under the Democrat ticket. The answer is obvious. In two-party system, to be serious about winning one must adhere to party politics, at least to a degree. History has proven that independents only split the vote for a party, depending if the frontrunner independent candidate is more conservative or liberal. Thus, running as a Democrat or Republic immensely increases ones’ chances of having a serious shot at presidency. Can you think of another candidate who has been criticized for not running under a party that accurately reflects his viewpoints?

The main difference between Trump and Sanders is the way they relate to the party the now belong to. While Sanders is a self-proclaimed Socialist, Trump has consistently been on the defensive for his past political stances. He compensates for his more “moderate” stances by, say, overturning the landmark Supreme Court decision establishing marriage equality nationwide.

Otherwise, these candidates, who I will dub as independent for our purposes, have shocking similarities. On the face of it, the candidates and their messages couldn’t be more different. One is a billionaire businessman; the other, a career politician who rails against billionaires.

Both are tapping int0 the anger that disgruntled and jaded Americans feel.

I am angry and the American people are angry.

Bernie Sanders
Jan. 23 in Clinton, Iowa

And I can say oh I’m not angry … I am very angry because our country is being run horribly and I will gladly accept the mantle of anger.

Donald Trump
Jan. 14 Republican presidential debate (Fox Business Network)

This tactic seems to be working for the candidates too. Being frontrunners and not colloquially considered a pure Democrat or Republican, some voters are excited by the potential to overthrow the status quo, represented by Clinton and Cruz. Also, because of the candidates’ unusual ways of funding their campaign (self-funded by Trump and small-dollar donations by Sanders), the spotlight on corruption and how much money can influence politics has been revealed.

Regardless if Trump or Sanders gets the nomination, the idea of a revolution has been one the American public has been flirting with for decades now. And it seems like someone is going to have to answer for it soon.