Bernie and the Beasts

If the presidential election happened today, many of us wouldn’t be surprised to see Hillary Clinton’s name opposite Donald Trump’s on the ballot box. I mean, they are both leading their parties by a fairly substantial margin. But would Hillary be able to duke it out with the loudmouth Trump or his rivals Ben Carson and Jeb Bush?

Her record doesn’t say so, according to Quinnipiac poll data, which showed her approval rating dropping from 55 percent in July to 45 percent in August.

“My problem with Hillary is that she’s not giving me anything to be excited about,” said Brandon Faison ’14. “I feel like she thinks she’s just going to win without trying and she’s too close to the establishment and the banks.”

The dwindling support suggests Clinton’s top Democratic opponent, Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, is drawing those voters away.

It’s no surprise Sanders is America’s number one rising candidate. He relates to poor and working class Americans struggling to make ends meet and continues to defend their right to unionize.

“Never before in the modern history of our country have so few had so much and so many had so little,” Sanders said in a press release before confirming his presidential bid last year.

His hardline stance on the Keystone Pipeline contrasts with Clinton’s concerning inability to form a position on the issue.

In July, at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire, Clinton refused to answer whether she would approve a bill allowing expansion of Keystone XL because she didn’t want to undermine President Obama.

Sanders has been outspoken against the pipeline.

“Unless we get our act together, the planet that we’re going to be leaving to our kids and grandchildren will be significantly less habitable than the planet we have right now,” he told MSNBC in January.

Sanders has surpassed Clinton in New Hampshire. I believe this trend will continue in states where she has a double-digit lead, because she lacks a confident stance on many issues.

He firmly opposes Greek austerity and has been outspoken about raising the top tax bracket to over 50 percent. Clinton has refused to comment significantly on either.

This kind of behavior is a warning for Democratic voters who still think Clinton can do battle with the GOP.

On the other side, Trump seems to defy political forecasts that his campaign should have self-destructed.

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Trump told Fox News in early July. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems … they’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

Whether his comments are xenophobic, sexist or just plain ignorant, Trump’s support has increased among conservative voters, not only because he says whatever awful thoughts are on his mind, but because he’s confident, cocky and consistent.

Why then shouldn’t we, who vote more progressive, do the same with a candidate who isn’t a charlatan?

Sanders has yet to take the lead in the Democratic Party, but it’s not a reason to neglect him. His integrity makes him what we need. I find him the better quality candidate simply because the GOP will be swinging haymakers until next November and Clinton has yet to firmly plant both her feet.

If you haven’t yet, visit Sanders’ website. I urge you to join me, other current Guilford students and alumni in supporting Bernie Sanders in his 2016 presidential run.