Though Bernie Sanders may not have a shot at the 2016 presidency, the passionate, young liberal spirit that still courses through American politics proves that the Sanders movement is not over.
Over the course of his campaign, Bernie Sanders reshaped the landscape of liberal politics by implementing new strategies, introducing radical ideas, and increasing engagement among specific groups of voters. His influence on the 2016 presidential election is too significant to represent simply a transition in U.S. politics.
Sanders has started a real movement.
More than any other candidate in recent years, Sanders placed a large emphasis on fixing inequality in America. From addressing rural poverty in West Virginia to urban poverty in the nation’s largest cities, Sanders has become the voice of those who do not have the economic status necessary to be heard in American politics today.
Robert Reich, a public policy professor at the University of California Berkeley explains that this is not an issue that Americans suddenly realized after hearing Sanders speak. In an article written for Newsweek, he reports that 79 percent of Americans in 2012 believed that the government was “run by a few big interests looking after themselves.”
Four years later, Sanders finally addressed these long-standing concerns, and made them a common interest of the Democratic Party.
Sanders has offered his official endorsement of Hillary Clinton, not surprisingly after the Democratic presidential candidate agreed to adopt higher education plans that align with his proposed ideals. Clinton has agreed to adopt many more of Sanders’ ideas, demonstrating the incredible influence that the high-profile Independent has had on left-wing politics.
Sanders’ endorsement will prove essential for Clinton’s success in the coming months. Clinton needs votes from die-hard followers of the Sanders movement.
Perhaps the greatest contribution of the Sanders movement is the surge in interest among young people.
“Feel the Bern” T-shirts and "Bernie 2016" bumper stickers cover college campuses and other hubs of American young adults.
According to research conducted in June by Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts, Sanders beat Clinton 78-21 points among voters under the age of 30. The key to Clinton’s presidential victory could lie in the hands of the 18-29 year olds who, thanks to Sanders, believe that voting is “cool.”
Sanders' influence does not stop here. Vox reports that the Sanders campaign has also reshaped the funding of campaigns. In March, Sanders had raised more than $77 million for his campaigns from donors, each contributing less than $200.
Sanders’ economic strategy, which called for a large number of small donations, empowered a greater number of Americans to hold stake in their chosen presidential candidate.
Sanders’ success stems from a plan that gave a voice to the common man. His achievements have the potential to change political campaigning forever.
Sanders’ impact in 2016 represents a movement in American politics. Characterized by the common man, increased equality, and American youth, the future of left-wing politics certainly has the Sanders stamp of influence.
Though Clinton has secured the Democratic Party’s nomination, the Sanders movement is far from over.