He is 75 years old, a self-proclaimed socialist (almost considered an abomination in the United States) and his scruffy appearance seems better suited to that of a beloved grandpa than an Oval Office hopeful. However, it is very likely that he will be the next American president in less than a year’s time.
Bernie Sanders is, by all accounts, an atypical candidate, but his narrative has come at the perfect time. Since the 1960s, he has been working toward equality in the United States. He was at the Washington Mall on the day of the famous civil rights march when Martin Luther King spoke about his dream. So far, he has an impeccable political career, which contrasts with the eventful, controversial and no longer epic career of his adversary Hillary Clinton. In addition, his message is crystal clear and is gathering more and more momentum within the United States middle class, which is just beginning to get to know him. Young people en masse are in favor of him and they attend his rallies as if they were a Bruce Springsteen concert.
Sanders is very to the point when it comes to identifying America’s enemy: large corporations and corrupt political institutions. His campaign is financed only through individual donations. He promises to reform campaign financing so that campaigns do not depend on Wall Street. He is unapologetically in favor of free education and public health care, as well as a woman’s right to make her own decisions regarding her body and motherhood. He proposes to work toward equality in all areas beginning with salaries, in line with European social democratic parties. He also intends to focus on minority civil rights. Here, on the other side of the Atlantic, this seems far from revolutionary. However, in the United States, where private initiatives and individualism are so highly valued, and where government generally presents a problem, the message is truly innovative.
At the beginning of the Democratic primary campaign, Sanders remained a handful of voters below Hillary at first in Iowa, but he triumphed later in New Hampshire. It is unlikely that this trend will change much, because Hillary is already well known and it will be difficult for her to surprise voters. It is true that among the general population who will be voting in November, Clinton still seems to be the favorite. However, we also know that it is usually the favorite candidate in the Democratic primaries at the beginning who ends up being overtaken by the lesser known candidate. Look no further than Obama for an example of that phenomenon.