Sunday, August 16, 2015

Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and 2016

For those who've spent the last few months stranded at sea, or for other calamitous reasons been unable to keep up with news, you may be surprised by what you're about to read.

The longest-serving independent, a 73-year-old white senator from Vermont, has men, women and children of all ages going crazy. After seeing the support for President Barack Obama in 2008, people have wondered what it would take for Americans to rally with comparable enthusiasm for change.

After the first African-American President whose promise was just that, people around the United States seem to want it more than ever. While former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is charismatic, she's not the "change" so many Americans are feverish about. Her blunders as Secretary of State are likely to be her major obstacle when it comes to the debates, even though the polls, as of now, are in her favor.

Many Republicans will be glad to remind voters of the tragedy that took place in Benghazi. Of only seven US ambassadors in the diplomatic history of America to have been killed in the line of duty, one was Christopher Stevens who died under the incumbency of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. 

When considering that Ambassador Stevens was also the first Ambassador to have been killed in over 40 years, since Adolph Dubs died during a failed rescue operation in February of 1979, the Ambassador's death is all the more shocking and hugely undermines Hillary Clinton's leadership. While I find it almost impossible to agree with anything Donald Trump says, his recurrent remarks that Hillary Clinton was the worst Secretary of State may be closer to the truth than anything else he's said.

Ambassador Stevens was killed during a visit to the US Mission in Benghazi, some 400 miles from the Embassy in Tripoli. His death came after numerous requests were made to the State Department for increased security measures, following previous attacks on the presence of the United States in Libya. 

The ambassador's aim in traveling to Benghazi was to promote a message of peace during the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. While all embassies were on high alert because of the timing, the Ambassador was promoting the interests of his country, which is what any Ambassador is sent abroad to do.

The fact Stevens had been killed carrying out his responsibilities as Ambassador, and after having his repeated calls for increased security ignored by Clinton and her staff reveals that Hillary Clinton is imprudent. What's more, when it came to owning up to her enormous mistake as Secretary of State, Clinton said she'd never seen the emails appealing for more protection of the US missions. As such, it's discernible that besides being irresponsible as a leader, she's also unaccountable as one.

Hillary Clinton was also embroiled in yet another major blunder involving emails. During her tenure, she failed to follow standard protocol and used her private email as a means of communication on unsecured servers. 
The sensitive information a Secretary of State receives through emails has made this a matter of national security. Thousands of her emails were released, yet many were redacted. While Clinton argues that her actions did not go against protocol, the redactions certainly suggest that the information she was receiving was strictly confidential.

And what serves against Clinton, foremost, is her conceited, self-important and arrogant way of handling her own mistakes. Her forced 'coolness' and swagger in situations where it's completely inappropriate. She handles herself as though she's a mix of Einstein, Eisenhower and Eminem; a sort of genius leader superstar. Many undoubtedly admire that about her, but the majority really dislike her for it.

All things aside, Clinton is a revered politician, a First Lady that kept the title becoming the first female Senator of New York State, but her achievements for women and her renown may not be enough to win this election. Although having a first female President after the first African-American one would undeniably show progress, Hillary is facing yet another major obstacle. This time it's Bernie Sander's fresh honesty and immensely growing popularity.

Bernie Sanders has had a more direct approach to the most important topics in America today. Take, for instance, what has become one of the more contentious issues: police brutality. Hillary Clinton Spoke recently at Columbia's SIPA. She addressed the problems of the justice system, the issues with correction - but she nevertheless palpably missed what American voters are most concerned about. When Bernie Sanders was asked about police brutality by Wolf Blitzer on CNN, he said "for too many years, too many mostly black suspects have been treated terribly, and in some cases murdered. That is unacceptable, and police officers have got to be held accountable for their actions".

Yet, Sanders was kept from speaking at an event in Seattle when self-described Black Lives Matter activists interrupted his speech, chanting "black lives matter". One of those activists was Marissa Janae Johnson. The interruption was rude, as most are, but it was also pointless. 

Marissa and Mara Jacqeline Willaford targeted the most progressive candidate running. Such a protest would have been more fitting at one of Donald Trump's speeches. It should be noted that Bernie Sanders was also an activist in his youth, during the Civil Rights Movement. He marched with Dr. King. He offered Symone Sanders (no relation) a job on his team as his Press Secretary after meeting her, weeks before the disruption at the rally. Symone herself is a BlackLivesMatter activist and agrees with the idea that to tackle discrimination, economic equality has to be established for all members of the American populace.

The women who interrupted the rally were misguided and misinformed, perhaps angry that Sander's approach to ending discrimination has as much to do with approaching police brutality head-on as it has to do with ending the class war. Bernie Sander's tactic could not be more correct. To end discrimination, all Americans should enjoy equal access to jobs, to education, to healthcare, to opportunity. 

Marissa Janae Johnson later remarked, in her own words, that she doesn't "give a f*ck" if her stunt drives away support from the BlackLivesMatter Movement. Well, she should. Because if it does drive away support then what was the point of interrupting the speech? To end discrimination by limiting the support of the movement? 

The stunt also proved dull-witted because it achieved the exact opposite of what they had set out to achieve, with people defending and talking about Bernie Sanders and 12 thousand people going to see him speak at the University of Washington later that day.

It would later become a known fact that Marissa Janae Johnson is a former supporter of the tea party and Sarah Palin.

Bernie Sanders approached the topic of police brutality with far more confidence than Hillary Clinton. It's true that the justice system has to be reformed, but what Americans are seeing day in and day out is the heinous conduct of police around the nation. 

The killings in recent times have become far more publicized, consequently this is a far more important topic in 2016 than it was in either 2012 or 2008. Unlike Hillary Clinton, Sanders spoke frankly of the need to hold police officers accountable. 

American voters can more honestly agree with a man speaking his mind in simple terms than a someone seeking to remind you that she attended Yale Law School, which is exactly what Clinton did when she spoke at Columbia University. Again, her unwavering arrogance should be noted as a particular weakness in engaging a wider public.

That's the main issue with Hillary Clinton. Her identity is hinged on making you feel like you're being lectured, almost as though you couldn't arrive at the same conclusions without her intellectual handout. Bernie Sanders is more relatable. He's not rich, he's in fact one of the most modest U.S. politicians, whereas Clinton is a millionaire many times over and would serve the interests of the companies financing her candidacy.

Sander's platform on achieving economic equality is one that is wide enough to attract a huge segment of voters. With income inequality having only broadened for decades now, people are formally seeking to end the corporate ownership of politics in America. Bernie Sanders has vowed to get rid of money-politics, which in many cases keeps progress from being achieved on Capitol Hill, through the virtually uncontrolled practice of lobbying. That's why Sanders doesn't have a Super Pac and Hillary Clinton does. 

His stance is that someone in politics shouldn't be accepting money from any business or anyone conducting it. Hillary Clinton is quite happy to do otherwise. In fact, one of her Super Pacs received a 7-figure donation of essentially untraceable "dark money" from Fair Share Action. The Clinton Foundation also failed to pay taxes on tens of millions of dollars in foreign donations.

The internet has also been awash with several images that show the top financial sponsors of Sanders and Clinton. The former is supported by unions with generous contributions to his campaign, the latter is supported by conglomerates like Goldman Sachs with absurd contributions. 

Companies want Hillary Clinton as President because her promise to them is to uphold the status quo of having to pay virtually nothing in taxes. This is another area that will earn Sanders support during the election, while Hillary's vast wealth and closeness to large corporations will serve as yet another drawback.

Bernie Sanders has been vocal against the TPP, which, according to the Senator, will protect the interests of these organizations. The fact that the TPP has been marred by secrecy and its implications are virtually unknown to people is worrying, to say the least. 

The only thing people know relates to the Intellectual Property Provision, which was leaked. This is an extreme regulation that also makes it possible for people to "retain" critical components of inventions, softwares, or other IP (intellectual property) making technological monopolizations possible. The TPP has been vocally opposed by Bernie Sanders who's likely been the most vociferous opponent of its creation.

Hillary Clinton's stance on the TPP is the polar opposite. Firstly, she tried to ride the sentiment against the Pact as a means of boosting her popularity during the campaign, declaring that Obama should essentially slow down the show (with regards to fast track authority). 

But, a top aide in the administration went on-record to disclose that the creation of the TPP was actually Clinton's biggest achievement. That's right; she paved the way during her time as Secretary of State by way of her negotiations. Accordingly, this is clear evidence of misinforming political discourse. Despite the practice of flip-flopping not being new in any political context, it's something that Hillary, at this point, is widely recognized for.

Another aspect of Bernie Sander's agenda that makes him appeal to an extremely wide segment of voters are his intended policies on education, foremost college education. Sanders aims to make higher education at public universities free for students and reduce outstanding loans that college graduates are struggling to pay back. 

While he's certainly not the first politician to promote the idea amid the continuously rising college costs across America, he's the first to proffer a pragmatic idea about how to cover the cost. The Senator proposes taxing Wall Street transactions to cover around 70 billion dollars, which would make this coveted American fantasy possible. Who better to pay to the greedy institutions of American education than the greedy corporations of America. 

His move comes as the student debt crisis is becoming more and more serious, with the Federal Reserve having indicated that the number of people behind on payments is up from last year, despite the economic improvement. This shows that the situation won't improve with the economy and has to be addressed separately. The price tag of American Higher education remains the highest in the entire world and has been made a consumer good instead of a right like it in most developed European countries.

Bernie Sander's platform not only addresses the most critical issues in America to date, such as the lax taxing system on the largest corporations, the widening social gap, evident discrimination, access to affordable education and the TPP. It does so with an unfamiliar tone of authenticity, something many are hesitant to believe because it's such a strange occurrence in American politics.

While everyone is pointing to polls to show the security that Hillary Clinton is enjoying, polls aren't a determining factor in who will be the next American President. Faculty of Politics Professor at NYU, Patrick Egan recently wrote an article for the New York Times in which he argued not only that current polls "fail to predict" who will win but that they are actually unreliable to the point that a negative correlation exists.

Nevertheless, if we were to staunchly believe that polls this early in the Presidential race matter, the most recent polls show that Bernie Sanders has not only been gaining on Hillary but has overtaken her, as was the case in New Hampshire where he is leading by almost ten percent. Nevertheless, also according to polls, Donald Trump is the Republican frontrunner, which should serve to show just how misleading they can be.

It's unlikely anyone from a party that by and large declares global warming a myth will win this election, especially amid the current extreme weather patterns (2015 may be the strongest El NiƱo year on record); it's even less likely that it'll be someone who openly discriminates against huge segments of American voters as his only means of gaining attention, and/or outcry. 

If we're talking about the chances of a Republican winning this election, we'll have to be thinking of Jeb Bush as the only candidate with any realistic chance. Don't be fooled by statements that Donald Trump is the Republican frontrunner.

Bernie Sander's traction with people is only growing and at an unprecedented pace. It's more reliable to look at the crowds that a candidates is drawing to his or her speeches as a means of understanding their popularity. 

If you do that, you'll come to see that Bernie Sanders is by far the most popular candidate. With a  turnout in Portland, Oregon of 28,000 - so far the most for any 2016 candidate and roughly five times larger than any of Hillary Clinton's audiences, as according to the Washington Post, Bernie Sanders is clearly ahead.

From early on, people declared Bernie Sanders a fad and a political escapism that would come and pass. He was never close to the limelight, and Hillary Clinton's all-encompassing political gravity was seen by realistic Americans as something that would shatter his chances, especially as so few Democrats are running. 

But, with his current successes and even rumors that Joe Biden, only a year younger than him, is weighing a possible run, more and more people are beginning to shed their cynicism and are starting to believe in the possibility of political change on a magnitude they'd previously not imagined. Even if that change comes boxed as a 73-year-old man from Vermont with a Brooklyn accent.

It's looking more and more like Bernie Sanders is the man of the year, the year 2016.

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