US elections: Socialist Bernie Sanders talks the talk but is short on numbers

2016-05-03 10:14
When Democratic Party presidential contender Bernie Sanders speaks, you are reminded of all the speeches by the United Democratic Front leaders back in the 80s outlining a future in which black South Africans would have the right to vote, be equal with other citizens, have free education, have the land returned, get a living wage etc.

His principles and values are much more left-wing than any of the candidates contesting to be president of the United States this year.

The 74-year-old has a passionate and loyal following but is seemingly short on numbers as he lags behind Hillary Clinton in the race to be Democratic Party presidential nominee.

Today, voters in Indiana state cast their ballots to decide if he stays in the race to give Clinton a run for her money or not.

Yesterday, before his last rally, hundreds of supporters started lining up outside the Indianapolis circle before 4pm, even though he was only due to speak at 7.30pm.

In a chilly afternoon caused by intermittent rains, thousands waited patiently at an outdoor venue as they listened to music played from loudspeakers.

By 7pm the racially diverse crowd was getting impatient and started shouting “We want Bernie”.

When he speaks, Sanders makes what some consider pie-in-the-sky promises, but which come across as heartfelt.

Yesterday, he attacked the current US system, which treats the poor, sick, elderly and working class with indignity.

He criticised big corporations that were creaming the profits while treating customers and workers as disposable trash.

He promised to create a “moral economy” that would not be based on greed, selfishness and corruption.

He said he would raise the minimum wage, create jobs and make sure that students were not saddled with huge student loan debts with onerous repayments arrangements.

“A great nation is not judged by how many millionaires it has but by how it treats the most vulnerable among us, he said.

He added that the Republicans wanted to cut social security, “but I have bad news for them. We will not cut social security, but we will increase it instead”.

He threatened to go after the stock exchange, Wall Street, saying American public money was used to bail out it the last time the economy nearly collapsed and it was time it also helped the poor.

But unlike the United Democratic Front, which knew that it would definitely gain power some time, Sanders cannot say the same.

He has roused support among many young people but the polls suggest he is a rank outsider to be president.

After the rally, 24 year-old supporter Jeremy Holden, who attended the event, said he would definitely vote for him but did not see him becoming either presidential nominee or implementing any of his policies.

“I like Bernie, and he stands for all that I believe in. But I don’t think he would be able to accomplish his plans as Congress [US Parliament] would outvote him. He is the best candidate.

“I am 24 and it will be the first time I vote because he has inspired many people of my age. I will vote for him even if he does not win”.

Holden was not the only one to express this sentiment. Will Americans defy sceptics and elect a socialist into the White House? His own supporters say not.

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December 8 2019