By Charlie Kimber
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Bernie Sanders’ victory in New Hampshire shows establishment politics in the US is cracking up

This article is over 8 years, 5 months old
Issue 2490
Bernie Sanders, who calls himself a socialist, at a campaign rally in New Hampshire
Bernie Sanders, who calls himself a socialist, at a campaign rally in New Hampshire (Pic: @people4bernie/Twitter)

Bernie Sanders, who calls himself a socialist, has won a thumping victory in the New Hampshire state election for the US Democratic Party presidential candidate.

Sanders won 60 percent of the vote, 20 percentage points more than the establishment candidate, Hillary Clinton.

Exit polls showed his biggest support came from younger and poorer voters.

Sanders took more than 80 percent of the votes of those under 30. And he took 70 percent of the votes of those earning less than £20,000 a year and two-thirds of those earning less than £35,000 a year.

Clinton won only among voters over 65 and those earning more than £140,000 a year.

At this victory celebration, Sanders said, “What began last week in Iowa, what voters here in New Hampshire confirmed tonight, is nothing short of the beginning of a political revolution. It is a political revolution that will bring tens of millions of our people together.

“Together, we have sent the message that will echo from Wall Street to Washington, from Maine to California. And that is that the government of our great country belongs to all of the people and not just a handful of wealthy campaign contributors”.

Broadcaster CNN said, “In less than a year, Sanders has turned a hopeless quest into a serious threat to Clinton’s ability to win the Democratic nomination—and has already stopped a coronation.”

Over the last few days Clinton tried to sound more radical, and to claim that she was anti-establishment because she was a woman.

This turn was backed up by former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, who implemented the murderous sanctions on Iraq in the 1990s. As Clinton looked on laughing and clapping, Albright had told the media, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!”

Such desperate tactics wholly failed. Sanders won among women by 55 percent to 45 percent.

Bernie Sanders took 70 percent of the votes of those in the lowest income bracket

Bernie Sanders took 70 percent of the votes of those in the lowest income bracket (click to enlarge)

One sign of the enthusiasm for Sanders was a record turnout at the polls. And Sanders also did better than the surging Barack Obama in 2008.

Sanders’ policies are less radical than is sometimes presumed—and he lines up with key parts of the US imperialist agenda.

But he partially reflects the insurgent mood that produced Occupy Wall Street in 2011 and the Black Lives Matter movement. He also reflects the recent signs of more militant workers’ action and the growing climate change movement.

This is what is really significant—the old politics is under extreme strain, and millions of people are looking for an alternative.

But at his victory speech Sanders also underlined his readiness to unite with Clinton in the future.

He said, “I also hope that we all remember, and this is a message not just to our opponents, but to those who support me as well, that we will need to come together in a few months and unite this party and this nation because the right-wing Republicans we oppose must not be allowed to gain the presidency.”

That means he is prepared to stay within the limits of the thoroughly capitalist Democratic Party

The fact that establishment politics are cracking up was also reflected in the Republican poll, with a big win for the thuggish billionaire Donald Trump. Trump has never held elected office and plays on being an “outsider”.

In truth he slavishly follows the interest of big business and the generals. His racist populism is dragging politics rightwards.

Exit polls in New Hampshire found that 66 percent of those participating in the Republican primary supported Trump’s call for an outright ban on Muslims entering the United States.

Trump’s win, following a second place in Iowa and with a clear lead in the national polls, means he is in a strong position. There is no obvious single competitor for the party establishment to unite around in order to stop him.

And, given the deep distaste with politics as usual, it’s not obvious that one would beat him anyway.

How are US presidents elected?

  • 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 (and sometimes others) in a particular state.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, where Sanders and Clinton were almost tied. The next Democratic primaries will be in Nevada on 20 February and then South Carolina on 27 February.

Eleven states vote on1 March, a critical moment for the campaign.

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