Bernie Sanders loses outsider status in 2020 presidential run

Is America ready and willing to “Feel the Bern” again?

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Opinion

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/02/2019 (1437 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Is America ready and willing to “Feel the Bern” again?

It might just turn out to be the most critical question facing our southern neighbours as their republic careens wildly toward a 2020 election that may or may not extend the Donald Trump presidency for another four years.

Independent Vermont senator and self-described democratic socialist Bernie Sanders on Tuesday formally declared that he is taking a second run at the office of U.S. president, and will again seek the nomination of the Democratic Party despite having clearly established that he is not, by any of the familiar definitions employed by that party, a Democrat.

Ron Sachs / CNP FILES U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders declared Tuesday he will seek the presidency in 2020.

Mr. Sanders’ declaration prompted a wide variety of reactions from stateside political observers, ranging from some who think this election cycle — free from the juggernaut entitlement and electoral assumptions of the Hillary Clinton machine — really is Bernie’s time, to others who have long since concluded that Mr. Sanders’ political moment ended when his refusal to bow out gracefully and decisively endorse Ms. Clinton after losing the Democratic nomination played a key role in the election of Mr. Trump.

With a field of Democratic nomination-seekers that currently numbers somewhere around a dozen, it’s far too early to declare whether this is Mr. Sanders’ time. But those who consider him yester-cycle’s man would do well to consider how his enduring popularity translated into nearly US$6 million in campaign donations within 24 hours of his declared candidacy — a number that far exceeds the to-date fundraising totals of all the other Democratic hopefuls combined.

The 2020 Democratic primary process is destined to be an ugly fight. And even at the advanced age of 77, Mr. Sanders has established himself as a candidate who enjoys an electoral brawl.

For better and worse — in terms of the Democrats’ chances of regaining the White House in 2020 — Mr. Sanders has immediately assumed front-runner status in the race for the blue-hued nomination.

He can no longer be considered a political outsider, as his “radical” socialist ideas — medicare for all, free college tuition, a US$15 minimum wage guarantee — have been embraced by many of the more progressive Democrats also seeking the nomination, but his newfound “insider” status means he will more directly be the target of Republican-backed attack ads as the presidential cycle gains momentum in coming months.

In fact, within a couple of hours of Mr. Sanders’ declaration, the Trump re-election campaign signalled its intention to use the Vermont independent as the poster boy for all Democratic presidential efforts, warning that “every” candidate has embraced Mr. Sanders’ “brand of socialism.”

Indeed, one of the more effective applications of political gamesmanship in recent generations has been U.S. Republicans’ deft success in getting large swaths of needy Americans to believe the pursuits of universal health care and a guaranteed living wage are insidious communist plots that would lead to the unravelling of the nation’s democratic fabric.

Alex Brandon / The Associated Press files The Sanders campaign says it raised US$6 million in donations within 24 hours of his declared candidacy.

With Mr. Sanders and his “radical” agenda in the spotlight this time, expect the rhetoric to reach volcanic temperatures early in what will soon feel like an endless march to the 2020 vote.

As was the case with the overcrowded Republican field in 2016, which ultimately produced Mr. Trump as that party’s controversial nominee, the 2020 Democratic primary process is destined to be an ugly fight. And even at the advanced age of 77, Mr. Sanders has established himself as a candidate who enjoys an electoral brawl.

Whether he succeeds in his quest for the nomination or falls short a second time, Americans are most definitely going to feel “Bern’d.”

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