A Sanders Summer Sensation

RIGA SketchA few months back, it was a fiery senator from Massachusetts who drew the swelling crowds and impassioned devotees. Cries of, “run, Elizabeth, run!” bounced off of the walls of packed speech halls as Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) delivered statements annihilating the corrupt and wealthy while rooting for the downtrodden and hardworking. Facebook pages and websites sprung up overnight, filled with Americans desperate for the articulate fighter to take the stage in 2016.

Even Hillary fans welcomed her to the fray – she would push Hillary to the left, force her out of her centrist comfort zone, to descend her cushy Washingtonian perch and really connect with people. Either as a presidential candidate or ultimately as the president, Sen. Warren would have infused the race with energy and fresh rhetoric.

But she didn’t. Hungry for a shoo-in female president, Warren bowed out, clearing the path for Clinton. Since then, another liberal, electrifying candidate has taken the floor, and is making a splash.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) packs his rallies and speeches with thousands of screaming fans. He’s raised decent money and started up a respectable grassroots campaign. He’s gained name recognition and engendered enough success to disquiet the diehard Clinton fans.

A self-proclaimed “socialist Democrat”, Sanders runs on a platform of unabashed progression and deep blue causes. These issues have earned him many supporters, even decreasing Clinton’s massive lead in some polls (cutting her lead to a slight eight points in New Hampshire).

However, despite all these optimistic signs and the outpouring of ardent support, his popularity and success are unlikely to survive the summer.

As Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) dismissed, “it’s not unusual for someone who has an extreme following to have a following.” Sanders is too liberal to be the president. The following he’s attracting now mainly consists of political junkies who have deeply entrenched and often extreme views on politics. The majority of Americans aren’t paying attention yet. When they do, many of them will likely bristle at Sanders’ uncompromising, bright blue message.

In addition, despite the lack of Clinton enthusiasm, Sanders’ appeal will fall away as Clinton crafts a more concrete (and probably more progressive) platform. Her name recognition and poll leads can’t be denied. She’ll come out as the Democrat nominee regardless of this Sanders-inspired blip.

Sanders’ success is good for the Democratic party. It’s good for Hillary, to keep her on her toes and force her left. It’s good for democracy, to have multiple candidates and a plethora of ideas. However, Sanders’ type of success has a short shelf life, and his fifteen minutes is almost up.


Kate Riga is a rising junior in the College. Panem et Circenses appears every other Saturday.

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