It was a night that confirmed Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton’s fear that a socialist named Bernie Sanders could bring an end to her second attempt for the presidency. Clinton narrowly defeated Sanders—she received only four more state delegates. But the Iowa caucuses are over and candidates move on with new gains… and new losses.
Forget that hater named Donald Trump who shamelessly calls those he doesn’t like “losers.” Now that he has become one, thanks to his fellow Republican Ted Cruz, he may quiet down. It’s time to focus on those who have realistic ideas and plans to continue building the America that Barack Obama will hand over in less than a year.
An upbeat Sanders tweeted that, “We accomplished what the political establishment said was impossible. Don’t underestimate us,” moments afterward the counting of 99% of the votes revealed that Clinton was leading him by ten delegates. 80% of the youth vote went to Sanders, according to an entrance poll conducted by the Associated Press and major television networks. It was a big night for a candidate who was virtually unknown and supported by only 32% of Iowa voters last July, according to a Quinnipiac University poll.
Clinton has been at odds with Iowa, where 4 in 10 Democrats self-identify as liberals, Politico reports. This is despite the multiple meet and greets she has conducted since she launched her campaign. Yes, she was able to start off the process without a loss due to a turnout that was 16.1% lower than it was eight years ago. And 60% of likely voters think she can defeat a Republican nominee.
The results in Iowa tell us that “socialism” is no longer a poisonous word in America. Income inequality and unaffordable college student loans, which are the products of a capitalist system, are weighing heavy on Americans’ minds. Sanders’ popularity has not only pushed the Democratic Party to the left but has tapped into a national mood that questions if economic prosperity under the free market actually does improve the lives of the middle class. America’s impressive economic growth has not decreased the number of food stamp recipients or decreased the precarious mountain of student loans. Beyoncé isn’t the only one singing “to the left, to the left” in the midst of an era where the wealth in America doesn’t make all Americans wealthy.
Sanders fights with a platform that intends to make college free, make universal health care a right, not just a privilege, and to get rid of money in politics. He is also promising to reform the way campaigns are funded. Look at the political map: There is only one candidate campaigning against the power of Wall Street by truly refusing to shake the hand of Wall Street. He doesn’t receive one single coin from big companies and he makes sure his own political ambition does not rely on Super PACs.
As Sanders said in his victory speech as a proud loser on the caucus night, “we had no political organization, had no money, no name recognition and we were taking on the most powerful political organization in the United States.” He didn’t win, but he won the change he wants to see—a Democratic Party with more liberal ideas and agendas in the future. Even Clinton speaks like Sanders now as she told supporters in her half-victory-half-concession speech that “I am a progressive who can get things done for people.”
Now, with the rising of Sanders and the enlarged acceptance democratic socialism has within the party, Clinton—whom even Sanders’ supporters still think will end up winning the party’s nomination and the general election—has to show that she isn’t a sister to money but a leader of new progressive political change in this country. Sanders wants to build a better American society and Clinton, if elected, has to be ready to do so.