The resentments both have for each other have been known. However, how pronounced Hillary Clinton’s antipathy for her opponent in the Democratic primaries for the 2016 presidential candidacy, Bernie Sanders, truly is, tells one a lot of the state of the Democratic party. Moreover, while the attack might be interpreted as detrimental to Sanders’ aspirations, Clinton has created a significant opportunity for Biden to solidify his status.
Clinton did not even attempt to mince her words. “Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him,” the former presidential candidate states in a four-part documentary. In his long time as a senator, Sanders had accomplished nothing. His beliefs were “baloney,” and sadly, many would fall for his plans.
Both had a rancorous race for the presidential candidacy in 2016, in which Sanders eventually endorsed Clinton, notwithstanding his supporter’s protests. Four years later, Sanders is running again and, at 20.8 percent, is second only to Joe Biden at 28.4 percent. The self-described Democratic Socialist had led the headlines the previous weeks when Elizabeth Warren candidly criticized him for holding the notion that a woman could not defeat Donald Trump – a remark, Sanders continuous to dispute. Since then, the relationship of two uber progressives transformed from a truce to handshake-gate.
According to Clinton, however, this practice was a “pattern” of Sanders. He and his circle, including his leadership team and prominent supporters, would drive “attacks” against competitors, “particularly against women.” Clinton witnessed the latter firsthand in 2016 when Sanders uttered she was “not qualified” to become the president, in a speech that sparked controversy at the time.
While it does not confirm Warren’s claim, it certainly renders it with additional credibility. Additionally, Sanders had also been scrutinized in the past week over an op-ed. In it, Joe Biden is accused of “corruption problems.” On Monday, Sanders apologized for the op-ed.
Clinton considers these sorts of tactics “worrisome,” particularly as Sanders appears to have permitted and cultivated this culture of attacks. However, Clinton persists even further in her rejection of Sanders. Ask whether she would endorse him if he led the party race and obtained the nomination, Clinton said she was undecided – a standard politician stance and yet revealing.
Meanwhile, Sanders did not comment on Clinton’s remarks during a statement on Capitol Hill and rather insisted he was focused on the impeachment trial and on how to defeat Donald Trump.
Nonetheless, what has transpired raises the question of Clinton’s agenda. The timing, two weeks prior to the Iowa caucus, is unquestionably not a coincidence. It is an effort to undermine Sanders’ prospects in the race and thus hinder the Democratic party from a conceivably irreversible further turn to the left. A Sanders presidency would likely lay the groundwork for his surrogates such as Alexandria Ocasio-Ortez and Ilhan Omar and their ambitions within the party.
Criticizing Sanders for being disliked inside the party, thereby insinuating he is not representing Democrats, while also calling him out on his track record as a career politician is thus one part of Clinton’s agenda. So is the critique on Sanders’ team and its conduct towards women.
Most importantly, however, all these claims possess validity. Sanders has never cared for the Democrats’ level of decorum amongst each other as displayed in 2016 and again now. Even more condemnable is Sanders’ policy track record. Sanders has been a member of Congress since 1991. However, finding his name on any significant piece of legislation is almost impossible.
However, Clinton’s words might not only backfire, but they initiate a vital opportunity for Sanders
One has to recognize that the Democrats since Sanders’ run in 2016 has become significantly more progressive. Sanders’ ideas of national single-payer health-care program, his $15-an-hour minimum wage stance, free college tuition, and many of the other campaign platform issues he introduced had been considered communist shenanigans before his run in 2016. Since then, several progressives, and even some moderates have adapted these ideas and brought them onto the mainstream limelight.
Sanders, in his sanctimonious way, has perpetually claimed to represent the people, while Clinton is perceived to serve the establishment. Now, Sanders has a compelling claim that the party has stolen his ideas. With Clinton resurfacing and Biden still leading in the polls, Sanders could almost effortlessly shift his focus away from the anti-Trump campaign he has been running on and instead run an insurgency campaign against the Democratic Party and the establishment it allegedly stewards.
It presents a chance to mobilize the extreme left further, a skill that will be crucial in Iowa. Due to the early stage of the primaries, Iowa has traditionally been all about enthusiasm for candidates. The separation from Warren and a potential insurgency could certainly generate notable enthusiasm amongst the extreme left. Most importantly, an impulse is urgently needed, as Sanders is currently polling in second place at 17.4 percent, behind Biden at 21.5 percent.
While breaking with his party can undoubtedly be considered a gamble for Sanders. However, 2020 is also likely his last chance to obtain the nominee. If Sanders proceeds on his current path, he will split the progressive votes with Warren, which makes Biden an almost lock for the nominee. Clinton, however, has bestowed Sanders with a great opportunity – his final one. Neither Democrats nor Republicans and especially not Hillary Clinton should be astounded if Sanders utilized it.