Do either have what it takes to defeat the GOP?
Let’s be clear, there is still plenty of time until the 2016 presidential election, but just like in the past few election cycles, the process of running kicks off earlier and earlier. We are only a few short months away from 2016, and by January or February, the race will be in full swing.
On the right side of the aisle, there are nearly two dozen candidates running for president, and the comments from the Republican front-runners seem to get crazier and crazier as the summer goes along. Meanwhile, on the left, it seems two front runners have emerged. Former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been seen as the most likely candidate to run in 2016 practically since President Obama was elected eight years ago, so it was really no surprise when she announced that she wanted to move back into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Joining Clinton in the race for the Democratic nomination is Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who announced his candidacy in late April and has drawn some of the largest crowds of the campaign season so far.
Clinton, who also ran in 2008, spent the last seven years honing her political chops, and spent much of the Obama administration as Secretary of State. However, despite the work she has done in service to our country, if Hillary Clinton does end up getting the nod from the Democrats, the fight for the nation’s leadership is sure to become an even dirtier one than normal. I’m not here to help her foes by bringing up the scandals she’s been a part of, but they have been really public, they have given her rivals A LOT of fodder, and will likely follow her all the way back to the White House. However, on the other hand, no other woman in the world has been as close to being president as Ms. Clinton has, and she certainly learned how to deal with the Beltway political scene while she was our nation’s First Lady. She has dedicated her life to public service and would be likely to continue many of the social programs that Obama has worked to implement. Clinton has the network in place for a successful run and in almost every poll she leads Republican candidates, as well as Sanders, by double digit margins.
Sanders, who ran under the radar for several months after announcing his bid for president this past spring, is the most liberal candidate in the race. After serving as the Mayor of Burlington, Vermont for two terms, Sanders spent 16 years in the House of Representatives before becoming a U.S. Senator in 2006. His campaign has proven recently that it is not one to be ignored, especially after they have had to move rallies for their candidate to bigger and bigger venues as they have had a much larger turnout than they first expected. However, nationally, he is not polling anywhere near as Clinton, whose support is over 60% compared to just 20% for Sanders.
Politically, Clinton is more centrist, and is thought to have a better chance to appeal to swing voters and independents. Sanders, who is a self-described Democratic socialist, has run, and was elected as, an Independent in his home state of Vermont, and has really begun to rally the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. His appeal as a man of the people and not a Washington Beltway insider, as Clinton is seen, may help to continue garner support for him, but only time will tell. Last week, Sanders faced some controversy for comments he made when he was interrupted by protesters affiliated with the #BlackLivesMatter movement at a campaign event in Arizona. He set the Twitterverse afire when he said “Black lives matter. But I’ve spent 50 years of my life fighting for civil rights. If you don’t want me to be here, that’s OK…” Despite the controversy, and the fact that Sanders is a U.S Senator from Vermont, the third whitest state in the union, he did in fact march with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, D.C.
If he is going to compete with Clinton, he will undoubtedly need to clean up his posture on race relations and get some people of color in his campaign, but again, it’s really early and there is plenty of time for both Sanders and Clinton to sharpen their messages and clarify their stances on the issues that will determine the results of the 2016 election.