Bernie’s Campaign Was About Something Much Bigger Than Winning

Priyanka Prasad
Bernie Sanders has built a progressive movement in the Democratic Party that will continue even if he loses the nomination.

bernie sanders

Results of Super Tuesday 3 did not emerge in favor of Bernie Sanders—while his campaign thought he had a strong shot of winning Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois, he lost Ohio by a dismal 14 points, Illinois by 1.7, and even Missouri (which seemed like a guarantee) by .2 percent, or about 1,000 votes.

Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, emerged with a crushing 31 point victory in Florida and a significant win in North Carolina, expanding her delegate lead on Sanders to over 300.

It was not a good night for the Sanders camp; after a completely unexpected Michigan win last Tuesday which revitalized the campaign, Super Tuesday 3 appears to have clinched the nomination for Clinton.

It’s worth noting that an extremely uphill path to nomination remains for Sanders. If he can acquire approximately 57.8 percent of the remaining delegates, he can prevent Clinton from acquiring the 2,383 delegates needed to automatically win the Democratic nomination. He’s also veering into friendlier territory—he has a solid chance of winning the next eight upcoming states before it gets tough again in New York on April 19: Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

The difficulty is that he will need to win by huge margins to make up for his debilitating losses in the Deep South, where Clinton won by up to 66 percent.

Despite the fact that Sanders has pledged to continue in the race until the convention in Philadelphia (he’s currently campaigning in Arizona), the math doesn’t look good for him and many of his supporters know it.

However, it’s important to examine his campaign in a larger perspective—in a broader sense, what he has achieved thus far is nothing short of revolutionary.  

Sanders has completely shifted the Democratic base, perhaps inexorably. He has brought up issues no other mainstream candidate would dream of: free tuition for public colleges and universities, universal healthcare, reforming a corrupt campaign finance system, breaking up big banks and bringing accountability to Wall Street, advocating democratic-socialism, eliminating fracking, discussing poverty and disproportional rates of incarceration for minorities, and fighting virtually every powerful corporate interest that exists.

He has done so without accepting a single penny from SuperPACs or special interests—he has funded his entire campaign by the American people, and outraised Clinton and her wealthy donors in multiple months.

Clinton has accused him of being a “single issue” candidate, but even if he is, he has honed in on the single issue that is America’s root problem: the fact that our politicians are puppets of the corporate interests that fund their campaigns, and respond to the whims of pharmaceutical companies, Wall Street, Big Oil, and the Koch Brothers, rather than the American people. It is legalized corruption, and it has to end.

Sanders has dragged a reluctant, naturally centrist Clinton to a leftist, progressive position on countless issues. When we see things such as the “SNL” sketch, which astutely pointed out how Clinton has transformed herself into Sanders 2.0, it says something: she has realized how much more progressive her policies have to be in order to appeal to the current Democratic base.

Sanders has tapped into the same anger that exists in many Republican voters who are going for Trump, but harnessed it in the best sense. He has taken off the blinders concerning the realities of how our government functions, and it’s impossible to go backward.

When voters previously accepted the status quo and argued that candidates needed to take money from SuperPACs and corporate interests to fund any campaign, he has proven, unequivocally, that there is another, equally successful way—public funding is a legitimate option.

He has built a true grassroots movement that will linger even if he does not win the nomination. The progressive base has emerged in the Democratic Party, and it will not disappear anytime soon. This will fundamentally change voting in state elections and local elections, as we’re currently seeing with Tim Canova challenge Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz for her House seat in Florida, or the support for Florida Rep. Alan Grayson.

 Sanders has used his national platform to bring incredibly important issues to national significance. Win or lose, the essence of his ideology has permanently pervaded the Democratic Party.  

Banner Image Credit: Twiter, @RollingStone