Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is not going to be the Democratic nominee for president in 2016, barring any extreme or abnormal occurrences. On the surface, it also appears that his "political revolution" -- that is, the election of progressive candidates to local, state and national offices -- is also not succeeding as his supporters might have hoped.
But it has been successful in one key area of interest: making key left-wing economic issues -- such as inequality, the minimum wage, and the disproportionate power of billionaires within the political system -- mainstream again within the Democratic Party. While this message has largely been championed by President Barack Obama during his presidency, Sanders' message is more urgent and less compromising, and it provides an almost left-wing alternative to the kind of right-wing anger which exploded with the formation of the Tea Party in 2009-2010.
Sanders has undoubtedly moved Hillary Clinton's arguments to the left over the course of the campaign season, although the practical policy differences between the two candidates' Senate records is minimal. Sanders' opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and his advocacy of a $15 minimum wage proved to be very popular and arguably forced Clinton to renege on positions she had held in the past.
Rolling Stone's Kate Aronoff also pointed out that the base of any potential Sanders-esque "political revolution" in the future -- namely, millennials -- is becoming more political savvy and approaching politics in radically different ways than their parents' generations. Through a series of interviews, Aronoff concluded that as far as progressive politics are concerned, movements -- such as Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, Fight for $15, etc. -- seem to be the preferred vehicle of political advocacy for a great many left-leaning millennials. This change alone, which was validated and bolstered by Sanders, will undoubtedly shape the future of the Democratic Party.
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Right now, the number of potential "Sanders Democrats" who may be elected to Congress in the near future -- such as Nevada's Lucy Flores, New York's Zephyr Teachout, and Pennsylvania's John Fetterman -- seems fairly small. But that number will grow as millennials age and shed their apathy towards politics; this is accompanied by the fact that members of the current Democratic establishment are generally quite old. Sanders, despite being the oldest candidate in the presidential race at 74, has gotten young people excited to vote for Democrats again.
So, perhaps Sanders' "political revolution" has not come to fruition so far in 2016. But his candidacy was itself fueled by an emerging progressive streak within the Democratic Party, and his campaign has only fed into the desire for more progressive candidates within large sections of the party. For the near future, at least, Sanders represents the way forward for the Democratic Party.