US election 2016: Bernie Sanders and the alt-left could have trumped Trump

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Damien Murphy

And now for the what might have been: They are saying Bernie Sanders would have done Donald Trump like a dinner.

Six months ago, US opinion polls showed Hillary Clinton’s Democratic rival easily beating Mr Trump.

Since Christmas Mr Sanders had been generating a sense of excitement that was almost totally absent from Mrs Clinton’s campaign.

And it was reflected in the polls.

A CBS News-New York Times poll on May 3 gave Mrs Clinton a six-point advantage over Mr Trump, but said Mr Sanders would win by 13 points.

A fortnight later, a poll by NBC News-Wall Street Journal said Mrs Clinton would beat Mr Trump by three points, but said Mr Sanders would win by 15 points.

Later that month Mr Sanders was flying high as Mrs Clinton’s fortunes continued to ebb.

“Right now in every major poll, national poll and statewide poll done in the last month, six weeks, we are defeating Trump often by big numbers, and always at a larger margin than Secretary Clinton is,” Mr Sanders said on NBC‘s Meet the Press on May 29.

The Democrat convention to select the party’s presidential candidate was two months away.

Mr Sanders, 74, a US Senator since 2007 and widely regarded as a socialist who supported New Deal-era American progressivism, regularly lambasted the media for campaigning on behalf of Ms Clinton’s leadership aspirations, saying it was undemocratic and unfair.

Mr Sanders’ platform – free college tuition, the removal of student debt, a national health service and the removal of big money from politics – resonated with younger voters,

For a while, Mr Sanders looked a carbon copy of the lead up to the 1968 Democrats convention when Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern garnered wide support among young voters and others disenchanted with the Vietnam War.

That time around, the Democrat Party hierarchy moved against the pair and insured a Washington player, Vice President Hubert Humphrey won the nomination. He went on to be beaten by the Republican Richard Nixon.

When it came to the convention vote last July, the Democrat machine swung behind Ms Clinton.

Voters under age 30 were the fuel behind Mr. Sanders’s campaign. He won more than 70 per cent of them at the convention —a bigger share than Barack Obama claimed in 2008 – but they were not enough for him to win the nomination.

Mr Sanders endorsed Mrs Clinton and campaigned for her during the election.

On Thursday Mr Sanders explained the Trump victory singing from the same song book he used often in his campaign to win Democrat nomination.

“Donald Trump tapped into the anger of a declining middle class that is sick and tired of establishment economics, establishment politics, and the establishment media,” Mr Sanders said.

“People are tired of working longer hours for lower wages, of seeing decent paying jobs go to China and other low-wage countries, of billionaires not paying any federal income taxes, and of not being able to afford a college education for their kids – all while the very rich become much richer.

“To the degree that Mr Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him. To the degree that he pursues racist, sexist, xenophobic, and anti-environment policies, we will vigorously oppose him.”

 

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