We are the future, says Sanders

The Vermont Senator asserts that his ideas may look radical today, but could be mainstream tomorrow.

Updated - December 03, 2021 06:53 am IST

Published - June 10, 2016 11:39 pm IST - Washington

“It was predictable,” Cornel West, American philosopher and public intellectual, said of President Barack Obama’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton in the U.S. presidential race, as he skittered towards the podium. “This is the neoliberal era.”

The sun was harsh, and the crowd relatively thin, at what could turn out to be the last campaign rally of Democratic insurgent Bernie Sanders on Thursday afternoon, at a parking lot only a mile away from the U.S. Capitol. On Tuesday, Washington DC will be the last to vote in the 2016 Democratic primary. The race has already been closed, as Ms. Clinton has mopped up the required number of delegates to win the party nomination in July. Mr. Obama, who has stayed neutral until this week, endorsed Ms. Clinton in a video released by her campaign.

“Give up, never,” young students broke into sudden bursts of zeal occasionally as they waited for the 74-year-old man who has inspired them more than anyone in the recent American history. One man in the crowd who must have been young in 2008 wore a faded t-shirt that said, ‘Obama for 08.’

‘Thank you, Bernie’ Mr. Sanders took the stage almost an hour behind schedule, after his meetings with Mr. Obama, Democratic leaders in Congress, and Vice-President Joe Biden. It was the standard Sanders speech—on inequality, minimum wage, universal healthcare and free college education. There was no mention of his meeting with Mr. Obama. “As President, I will take executive actions to fix the immigration system,” he said.

But the imminent sunset on his campaign was evident for Sanders and his supporters. “Thank you, Bernie,” his supporters shouted when he took breaks to sip from water bottle that he carries himself. This campaign has not been only about this election, he said. “What may appear radical today will seem mainstream tomorrow. A century ago, workers worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Abolition of slavery and voting rights for women were once radical ideas… Even two decades ago, gay marriage was a radical idea… What I am saying today may appear radical to some people, but this will be the future of America,” Mr. Sanders said.

Trump factor David Ansel, a 27-year-old English teacher-turned aspiring U.S. diplomat, identifies himself as “an independent and a diehard Bernie supporter”. He had worked in Libya during the capture and murder of Muammar Qaddafi and the assassination of the U.S. ambassador and can’t get himself around easily to support Ms. Clinton in the general election. “I may sit at home. But when I think that Trump might win because of that, it is a scary thought. I guess, I will vote for Hillary,” he said. “I can’t speak for others, but my feeling is that 95 per cent here thinks that way.” He was indeed right. There was only one placard that said “Bernie or Bust, DUMP DNC (Democratic National Committee).”

“Bernie is free to take his decision. All of us are free to take our decisions,” Mr. West told the crowd, taking a series of potshots at Ms. Clinton and Mr. Trump.

So where do Bernie supporters go from here? “We were trying to bring the neoliberal era to a close. we have to be ready to bring in much more radical democratic possibilities,” Mr. West told The Hindu in a brief conversation. “Absolutely,” he said when asked whether the Sanders campaign has credibly challenged the existing economic order.

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