The 2016 presidential election is a year and a half away, and while the Republican field is expanding by the day, there are only two candidates currently on the Democratic sideline. Though the general consensus is that Hillary Clinton will challenge with winner of the Republican primary, Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders is starting to make some noise.
The list of Republicans running for their shot at the White House is seemingly endless. With names like Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Ted Cruz, and Sen. Rand Paul all recently declaring, and others such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and current governors Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal all expecting to announce their intentions sometime this summer, Republican voters have a buffet of candidates to choose from. On the flip side, Democrats haven’t been offered that luxury. Hillary Clinton is the clear frontrunner, not just in the primary, but also against potential Republican challengers in the general election. Despite this, Sanders has been able to gain grass roots support, especially from those on the left who are tired of the “politics as usual” stigma attached to Clinton. According to a new Quinnipiac University poll released on May 28, Bernie Sanders has tripled his support with Democrats over the last month, from 5 percent, to 15 percent.
The growing trend of populism pushed by Sanders is concerning to Republicans, and to Clinton herself. Republicans don’t believe that Sanders can really win the primary, Clinton’s cash will all but squash that, but where Sanders can pull Clinton is what worries them the most.
Clinton is considered politically left of center, or even center right to some. Establishing close ties to Wall Street, creating a not so progressive record on foreign policy, and her longevity in the corrupt town of Washington D.C., the former Senator of New York has created question marks with many potential voters. Sanders and his approach comes from the left, openly identifying himself as a Democratic Socialist, the Independent from Vermont isn’t shy about his economic plans that include taxing the top one percent at rates not seen since Dwight Eisenhower was president, ironically a Republican.
Unlike Clinton, Sanders was against the Iraq War from the start, something that continues to be a stain on the record of every Congressperson who recorded a vote of “Yes,” Clinton included. Calls to bring back out troops, reduce military spending, and using the money saved for education, infrastructure investment and getting health care and jobs to our returning veterans, Sanders strikes a tone that resonates with many.
While Republicans don’t exactly fear Sanders pulling the upset of a lifetime and defeating Hillary Clinton in the primary, the end game is what worries them. Clinton might be forced to move left on issues that most Americans support, and if she does, Republicans will be in big trouble.