Sanders pressures Democrats to adopt progressive stance

(By Deutsche Welle) With Donald Trump now the presumptive Republican nominee, attention is shifting to the Democratic race. The contest between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders is more about the party’s values than about the nomination.

Even if Senator Bernie Sanders loses the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination, he could well win the fight for the party’s future and have a major influence on the direction of US politics.

When Sanders launched his campaign last year, he was something of a political curiosity: an independent senator from the small state of Vermont and a self-identified democratic socialist.

Socialist is normally an insult in US political parlance.

But Sanders has proven to be a major political force since voting began in February. He has won 18 states and is about 300 pledged delegates shy of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s lead.

The senator has mobilized a grassroots movement of predominantly young and working-class people. Since the start of his campaign, he has raised $182 million (160 million euros) from millions of individual small donors.

John Nichols, a reporter for The Nation magazine, has covered Sanders for 25 years. He said the senator would likely have enough delegates to contest the convention and pressure the center-left party to adopt a more progressive agenda.

“Some of the most interesting contested conventions have not been fights for the nomination,” Nichols told DW. “They have been fights to define the platform, values and program of a political party.”

The Nation, a progressive publication, has endorsed Sanders in the Democratic race. Continue reading

Advertisements

Loss in Ohio slows Trump’s march to Republican nomination

Long-shot candidate John Kasich has defeated Donald Trump in Ohio’s key presidential primary. Trump’s candidacy faces mounting resistance from moderate Republicans, DW’s Spencer Kimball reports from Cincinnati, Ohio.

Days after protests forced the Republican front-runner to cancel a rally in Chicago, Donald Trump has suffered a significant defeat in Ohio’s key primary.

John Kasich, the moderate governor of Ohio, managed to pull ahead in the neck-and-neck race on Tuesday, denying Trump all 66 delegates under the state’s winner-take-all rules.

The billionaire reality television star’s loss in Ohio slows, although it does not halt, his steady march toward the Republican nomination.

“Losing Ohio means he’ll have to deal with Kasich for a little bit longer, but it doesn’t end the process,” said David Nevin, a US politics expert at the University of Cincinnati.

“The way the map and the way the winner-take-all rules are set up, it’s going to get easier and easier for Trump to roll up big delegate totals from here on out,” said Nevin.

Continue reading

Chicago protests force Trump to call off rally

Donald Trump’s political ascent is mobilizing fierce opposition. Days before a string of key primaries, the Republican front-runner was forced by protesters to call off a major rally in Chicago, reports Spencer Kimball.

Even for the protesters, the news came as a surprise.

Donald Trump called off his rally in Chicago on Friday, citing “security concerns” amid reports of scuffles inside the university arena where he was scheduled to appear.

“Honestly, I’m shocked they called it off as quickly as they did,” said Annelise Steele, a 20-year-old student who showed up to protest against the Republican front-runner.

A large number of anti-Trump demonstrators descended on the University of Illinois Pavilion Center, many carrying signs and chanting slogans that panned the billionaire as a fascist and white supremacist. Activists said thousands had showed up to protest.

“I feel ecstatic. I feel like I actually have a voice,” said Uber driver Robert Willard as his fellow protesters celebrated their victory.

In a press release, Trump’s campaign said he decided to “postpone” the rally after landing in Chicago and discussing the situation with law enforcement. Supporters like Tayler Fuentes were disappointed in their candidate for not showing up.

“He should have stuck it out,” said Fuentes, a 28-year-old veteran and surgical assistant. “He always projects this image of being strong. What’s he going to do when China and Russia come knocking on the door?”

Continue reading

Clinton: We have to ‘save capitalism from itself’

(Deutsche Welle) It was a substantive debate focusing on income inequality. Bernie Sanders has pushed the Democrats’ presidential nomination debate to the left, but Hillary Clinton showed that she won’t be relinquishing her lead soon.

It was a strange moment in American politics. Five presidential candidates were asked during a nationally televised debate on Tuesday whether they were capitalists. The answer is normally taken for granted in the United States.

Bernie Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont, has shaken up the Democratic primary and rattled American political conventions. The self-declared democratic socialist has made significant gains against Hillary Clinton in early primary states and in the third quarter raised nearly as much money without the support big donors – $25 million (21.9 million euros) compared to Clinton’s $28 million.

“There is a mood this year in the electorate of a rejection of standard political discourse and standard political candidates,” Alan Schroeder, author of “Presidential Debates: 50 years of High Risk TV,” told DW. “Bernie Sanders has this message that’s resonating with a lot of people.”

His message is about income inequality and the system that produces it. Sanders has railed against the “billionaire class” and calls the campaign finance system “corrupt.” The senator points to Scandinavian countries, with their generous social welfare states, as role models for the United States.

While it might be the year of the political outsider, the establishment will only move so far: “We are not Denmark,” Clinton said during an exchange with Sanders over the merits of capitalism. “We are the United States of America.”

But Sanders has succeeded in pushing the debate to the left. Clinton agreed that something has gone wrong in America’s economic system, that capitalism has “run amok” and created inequities. According to Clinton, the next president must “save capitalism from itself.”

Continue reading

The people’s billionaire? Trump dominates Republican primary polls

Flush with money and armed with social media, Donald Trump’s racially charged populism now dominates the Republican race. Dismiss the billionaire tycoon at your own peril. Spencer Kimball reports from Chicago.

Donald Trump wants to “make America great again.”

“Our country is in serious trouble,” Trump said when announcing his campaign for president in June. “We use to have victories, but we don’t have them. When was the last time anybody saw us beating, let’s say China, in a trade deal?” he asked rhetorically. “They kill us. I beat China all the time.”

It’s not just China that’s beating the United States. According to Trump, Mexico has turned America “into a dumping ground,” sending immigrants across the border who are “rapists.” In response to his racially charged rhetoric, broadcaster NBC canceled Trump’s Miss USA pageant. Pundits and observers thought his campaign had imploded on its launch pad.

But Trump didn’t stop there. During a July interview in Iowa, he said Senator John McCain – a Vietnam veteran who was held captive and tortured – wasn’t a war hero. Sacrilege in America. Outrage ensued, but Trump’s campaign didn’t suffer as a result.

During the first Republican debate in August, Trump refused to rule out running as a third party candidate. The audience booed him. Yet according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll published on Tuesday, Trump decisively leads the Republican primary by a 20 point margin, garnering about 30 percent support. He leads in every major primary state, from New Hampshire to Iowa, from South Carolina to Florida.

“The inflammatory comments increase his popularity,” Bruce Newman, author of the forthcoming book, “The Marketing Revolution in Politics,” told DW. “His brand is all about the ability to make inflammatory comments and not care about what people think.”

“The xenophobic approach that Trump has, which is to appeal to people’s fear of the role of immigrants, is no different than what we witness in Europe,” said Newman, a professor at DePaul University. “It’s no different than the oratory of a Le Pen in France.”

Continue reading

American socialist: Bernie Sanders’ long shot presidential campaign gains steam

(By Deutsche Welle) Hillary Clinton’s path to the nomination is uncontested no longer. Senator Bernie Sanders is drawing huge crowds and gaining in the polls. But can a democratic socialist win over America? Spencer Kimball reports.

It’s a dirty word in American politics. But Bernie Sanders embraces it.

“I wouldn’t deny it, not for one second, ” Sanders told the Washington Post when he was running for Vermont’s senate seat back in 2006. “I’m a democratic socialist.”

Sanders is not a conventional American politician. He’s the longest serving independent in the history of the US Congress. Though he’s long worked with Democrats, Sanders officially joined the party just this year to challenge Hillary Clinton for the presidential nomination.

Initially considered a fringe candidate, he’s defying expectations. In May, Sanders trailed Clinton by 45 percent in Iowa, a key early primary state. He’s reduced the margin to 19 percent. In New Hampshire, the Vermont senator is behind by only eight points.

Sanders drew a crowd of some 10,000 people in Madison, Wisconsin earlier this month. It was easily one of the largest rallies of the 2016 campaign to date – in either party. And he’s no one-hit wonder. On Monday, he drew more than 7,000 people in Portland, Maine.

“No one in the White House will have the power to take on Wall Street alone, corporate America alone, the billionaire classes alone,” Sanders told his supporters in Maine.

“The only way that change takes place is when we develop that strong grassroots movement, make that political revolution, stand together, and then we bring about change,” he said.

Continue reading

The inevitable Democrat? Clinton announces her bid for US president

(By Deutsche Welle) To the surprise of nobody, Hillary Clinton has announced that she’s running for president. Though she has a clear path to the Democratic nomination, she runs the risk of taking her most-favored status for granted.

It’s her second bid to become the first female president in US history. But this time, Hillary Rodham Clinton has the experience of a failed primary campaign to help guide her strategy.

And her supporters believe they have the winning issues. In a nation where politics are increasingly defined by historic levels of income inequality, Clinton will focus her rhetoric on expanding economic opportunities for middle and working class families.

“Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top,” she said in a video posted on her website, announcing the her bid.

“Everyday Americans need a champion and I want to be that champion. So you can do more than just get by – you can get ahead and stay ahead,” she added.

Clinton is scheduled to meet with voters in Iowa and New Hampshire in the coming weeks, the first two states in the primary process. Though her nomination is no certainty, she is the only Democrat to have officially announced and her chances look favorable compared to other figures in the party who are considering a run.

“She is as close to inevitable as anybody who isn’t a sitting president has ever been,” Chris Galdieri, a professor of politics at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire, told DW.

“Since the 2008 campaign, especially since leaving the secretary of state position, she has done everything you can do to get close to locking the nomination up before the primaries actually begin,” he added.

Continue reading