As Sanders support among young Riverwards residents grows (he is also leading in the two key primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire), Republicans in Philadelphia and beyond not buying “the Bern.”
“I give Bernie credit for slowing down the coronation of Hillary Clinton,” Joe DeFelice, Philadelphia Director of The Republican Party of Pennsylvania, said. “But, frankly, it’s a done deal. [Clinton] is going to win the Democratic primary.”
According to NBC News, Clinton is leading the polls nationally between the two candidates by 14 points at 51 percent, while Sanders stands at 37 percent.
There are a number of months left to go with countless events and primary votes to be counted before polls can be solidified into firm objective reality. Philadelphia will play a key role in that process as well, as our city is hosting the Democratic National Convention for the third time in its history.
“I think the Democratic Party in Philadelphia is gonna have a rough time trying to choose between [Sanders and Clinton],” John Sabatina, Democratic State Senator of the 5th District, serving part Philadelphia County, said. “They’re both very qualified candidates.”
Benner believes Sanders is the only viable democratic candidate, stating, “Hillary is not a progressive candidate. She’s much more moderate/right-leaning than Obama on a number of issues. I think that Bernie has the political skill and respect in both parties to be able to work with the Republicans in the House and Senate and get things done.”
While supporters point to Sander’s agenda as one that serves the middle and working classes, his critics look at his platform as one littered with economically unsustainable programs, seldom ever paid for.
“We’ve already had a president (Obama) that’s far to the left. I don’t think we need a president even further to the left. We need one person to balance it out,” DeFelice said.
A contested report in the Wall Street Journal recently claimed that a Sanders Administration’s proposals would cost American taxpayers upwards of $18 trillion over the next decade.
“When I hear Bernie say the word ‘free,’ I wonder who that’s going to cost,” DeFelice said. “And frankly, it’s going to hit the hard working middle class that sit in those Riverwards, that wake up every morning, drop their kids at school, go to work, swing a hammer for 8 hours, go home and repeat the whole thing over the next day. They’re not gonna benefit from these programs.”
Supporters of Sanders in the Riverwards and Philadelphia cite that the senator’s policies and ideologies foster a greater sense of morality and compassion within American society. Sanders and his supporters have coined their revolutionary mantra as “Democratic socialism.”
Justin Harrison, an activist from Frankford, touched on this during a speech he gave during intermission at the Bernie benefit concert earlier this month.
“It’s a society that puts people before profits, the environmental before big oil and a society that creates a plan first for the needs of humanity, before the needs of the few,” Harrison said as he defined what Democratic Socialism means.
“When you look at our two options [in the Democratic Primary], Hillary or Bernie, Bernie’s the only one offering policies that truly help the working class. I’m voting for Bernie because I know he’ll be working for middle and working class Americans like me,” Benner said.
Whether you support Sanders or not, his campaign has brought people into the political conversation, unlike other, more recent elections.
“The more people we get involved in politics, the better. I still don’t see it having an effect with Bernie Sanders and I don’t see him beating Hillary Clinton in the primary,” DeFelice said. “But it’s great for democracy to get people more engaged. I haven’t seen this fervor for Bernie Sanders… maybe I’m not running in those particular circles. But I’m all for it.”
The youth vote could be a major determining factor in Sanders bid for the White House. But history suggests that’s unlikely; in Philadelphia’s most recent Mayoral Election, it was found that the 18-29 age group of voters was just 11 percent, whereas the 45 and older age group was somewhere in the 35-40 percent range.
“If [the youth] translate this fervor into voting, I think they’ll be taken more seriously,” DeFelice said. “Because while it may be great to see the fervor, we really have to see if they actually get to the polls.”