Socialist Worker

Huge surge for socialist Bernie Sanders as US election race begins

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2489

Senator Bernie Sanders makes a campaign appearance at a venue on the Iowa State Fair grounds three weeks before the Iowa Caucuses

Bernie Sanders speaks in Iowa ahead of the caucus (Pic: iprimages/flickr)

Bernie Sanders, who proudly calls himself a socialist, was the real winner in Monday’s voting in the state of Iowa.

This voting is part of the process to decide who will contest the US presidential election for the major parties.

Running for the Democratic Party nomination, Sanders tied with establishment favourite Hillary Clinton.

Each took around 49.5 percent of the vote in Iowa. It is a towering achievement that should cheer everyone who wants change.

Sanders won 85,000 votes, nearly twice the number taken by Donald Trump in the Republican contest. Two thirds of people attending the Iowa Democratic caucuses told pollsters a socialist president is a good idea. Over 30 percent were strongly in favour.

A political process that’s dominated by money and corporate power has become infused with at least an echo of a growing popular revolt.

Establishment politics is cracking in both the major parties—but most importantly in the Democrats.

Sanders has risen from nowhere because he articulates some of that mood. Sanders took 84 percent of the votes of Democrats aged under 30.

He has energised activists, particularly young people, with his message against the super rich.

“It is not fair when the top 1/10th of 1 percent today owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent,” Sanders said. “And it is not fair when the 20 wealthiest people in this country own more wealth than the bottom half of America”.

Sanders partially reflects the insurgent mood that produced Occupy Wall Street in 2011, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the growing climate change movement.

Sanders’ audience includes those who took part this week in the unofficial strike in New York and New Jersey that closed the busiest port on the East Coast.


It includes the school teachers and students who struck unofficially in Detroit and those who are outraged by the water contamination scandal in Flint, Michigan.

Sanders presently leads over Clinton in the polls for the next primary, which takes place in New Hampshire next Tuesday.

Clinton has great advantages of money and media backing, as well as the party machinery.

And some 15 percent of the delegates to the Democratic convention that will decide the party’s candidate are not even elected.

They are “super delegates”, mostly appointed because they are office holders. Many have already pledged their support for Clinton.

But in the most insightful moment so far Sanders said, “No president, not Bernie Sanders or anybody else, will be able to bring about the changes that working families deserve.

“Wall Street, corporate America and large campaign donors are so powerful that no president can do what has to be done alone.”

Instead, he called again for a “political revolution”.

“When millions come together to say loudly and clearly that our government belongs to all of us and not just a handful of billionaires, we will transform this country.”

The path towards such a movement will have to run outside the Democrats.

Sanders could play a hugely important role to build it.

If Sanders loses the nomination to Clinton, he could announce that he will not back Clinton and run as an independent socialist candidate instead.

Small donations pour in

Bernie Sanders’ supporters have raised more individual donations than any White House candidate before.

More than 77,000 supporters donated more than £14 million in the run-up to the Iowa caucus. This pushed his total donations past £23 million.

Almost all of it came from online contributions averaging £19.

Hillary Clinton has raised millions from Wall Street and corporate America. They’re desperate to stop Sanders and populist Republicans.

Billionaire investor George Soros donated a further £4 million. And media bosses Haim and Cherul Saban gave her £2 million.


Send in the clowns—the 2016 Republican line up

Donald Trump

Donald Trump (Pic: Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Republicans in Iowa pushed the thuggish Donald Trump into second—but the winner was right wing populist Ted Cruz.

Cruz won a key endorsement on the eve of the poll from the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, an influential conservative group.

In the appalling Republican debates, Cruz plumbed new depths by pumping out not only Islamophobia but also antisemitism.

His attack on Trump’s “New York values”, which he said were “focused on money and the media”, was immediately seen as an attack on the US’s largest Jewish community.

On Monday night of last week he said the greatest threat are “radical Islamic terrorists”.

He pledged the US’s “full force and fury” against anyone identified as an enemy.

Most Republican leaders fear that both Trump and Cruz are wholly unelectable.

They will be cheered that the slightly less rabid Marco Rubio “over performed” with 23 percent in third place.

All the Republican hopefuls are entirely in the pockets of big business and the generals.

Not one of them admits that climate change is a reality, because they don’t want to lose donations from the fossil fuel industry.

How are US presidents elected?

US voters will vote on a new president in November, but the race to the White House is already well under way. Socialist Worker looks at how the two main parties, the Democrats and Republicans, choose their presidential candidate.

The US presidential election takes place every four years, and the next one is scheduled for 8 November.

The Republicans and the Democrats choose their candidate through a long process of primaries and caucuses.

Primaries are ballots open to all of the party’s supporters in a particular state. Meanwhile caucuses are more like party meetings.

They both elect delegates to party conventions, who vote on the candidate. But there are also unelected delegates.

The precise process differs between parties and states.

Iowa was the first caucus. For Democrats it involved gathering at 1,681 individual caucuses. The next primary will be New Hampshire next Tuesday.

Eleven states vote on 1 March, a critical moment for the campaign.

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