When campaigning for the 2016 presidential election began, it seemed like all the balls were in Hillary Clinton’s court to become the Democratic candidate. However, Bernie Sanders, the Senator from Vermont, has been gaining popularity, growing in support from 6 percent to 24 percent of registered Democratic voters since he announced his candidacy in April, according to CNN/ORC polls.
I have been a Clinton supporter for a while now, but of late everything has been coming up Sanders. Even I have to admit that I am more aligned with Sanders on most political issues, but the Democratic debate on Tuesday answered the question I have been considering for months now: I still want Clinton in the White House.
We saw a different kind of debate on Tuesday. Through Lincoln Chafee’s smiles and Jim Webbs’ petulant complaints for more time, it was a relatively calm and respectful evening, especially compared to the shouting matches the two previous Republican debates proved to be. Sanders showed integrity and answered the questions thrown his way in his typical, passionate style. But, Anderson Cooper, the moderator of the night, posed an excellent question to the senator: can a self-proclaimed Democratic socialist win an election?
I do not think Sanders should be ostracized for using the dirty word “socialism.” He wants what most of the Democrats of this election want: to take the power out of the hands of the 1 percent and give it back to the 99, and he seems to be doing the most to make that happen. He is the only presidential candidate who is not supported by a Super PAC, which runs consistent with his disapproval of Citizen’s United and Wall Street in general, something he made very clear at Tuesday’s debate.
To anyone who knows Sanders’ platform, his political identity is nothing to worry about. In a perfect world, Sanders would swoop into Washington, take down the big, bad corporations and spread the wealth. But we do not live in a perfect world. Donald Trump’s high polls prove that.
Another worrying thing is Sanders’ stubborn demeanor. I appreciate his passion and aggression; I think they are admirable traits in a leader. However, the U.S. Congress is dominated by Republicans. I am not sure if Sanders will get far in Washington when faced with a Congress that is dedicated to reversing the very policies he is proposing. His take-no-prisoners attitude has gotten him far in campaigning, but I do not think it will have the same effect in Washington.
Now the question is, will Clinton fare better? I think yes. While she has been demonized by the Republican party, who have falsely assumed that she is the clear winner of the Democratic candidacy, Clinton has been much more moderate in her campaign, if not in her platform, in her demeanor. The Republican party has laid their attacks on her, not because she is more polarizing than Sanders, but because they assume she will take the candidacy.
Clinton has experience in Washington, serving as both a senator and Secretary of State, not to mention her time as first lady. She has been criticized for being a “Washington insider,” but I do not think that is necessarily a bad thing – she has experience. She has been criticized for changing her mind on many issues (for example, voting yes to authorize the invasion of Iraq in 2002), something she responded to beautifully last night. Clinton pointed out that her views have changed with her experiences. This was a smart move politically, and something that’s hard to argue with.
All in all, I think Clinton will be a more effective president, and her aplomb at the debate was admirable. She faced questions head on, owned up to mistakes and dealt with the criticisms that were flung at her from both sides. Sanders’ abrasive manner at the debate and in general is refreshing and his ideas have the potential set the country back on its feet, but the presidency may not be the position best suited for Sanders.