I’m referring to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
I railed and ranted. I analyzed and excoriated. I brooded on the strange and sinister political realities of our age, and I imagined my outrage blasting verbal bombshells against the depravity of Trumpism like the Grande Armée at Austerlitz.
That’s all good and well, on the grounds that the heinous demagoguery that has fueled Trump’s rise is a tenebrous evil that must be combated with the all the fury of Achilles, and then some.
But I won’t succumb to the pitfalls of Nietzscheanism here. I won’t philosophize with a hammer without aiming to build something new amid the rubble.
In spite of the fact that Trump’s outright savagery has led him to become the presumptive Republican nominee for president, there are still ideals extant in our political process.
Many among us still believe a good society is one that functions for the well-being of all its citizens, and that each citizen should be afforded an equitable opportunity to thrive within the context of that society.
These ideals are perhaps best summed up in the current phrase: “A future to believe in.”
The man whose presidential campaign has been built around this slogan began the race as a total unknown. His quixotic bid for the White House began nearly a year ago in Burlington, Vt., where he had served as mayor for eight years.
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke of income inequality and justice for working people. He famously declared, “Nobody who works 40 hours a week should be living in poverty.” He repeatedly condemned the greed and plutocracy of Wall Street in speech after speech. On environmental concerns, he audaciously claimed, “The debate is over. Climate change is real.”
He spoke of our responsibility to one another and to the planet we call home, echoing the ideas of Pope Francis. He decried the influence of wealth on elections and spoke of outright political revolution that would empower the working class and make American society benefit all its constituents.
In the summer of 2015, Sanders began drawing massive crowds at campaign rallies. His campaign could boast of being almost entirely funded by small, individual contributions, and the senator himself would often defiantly announce he would not take money from Super PACs in order to finance his presidential run.
In principle and in action, Sanders has proven himself a firm believer in the ideas that fuel his campaign.
Nearly a year since he entered the national spotlight by launching his presidential campaign, the Vermont senator has made it clear his vision for America is one in which each individual is afforded an equitable chance to do well; one in which our planet is cared for; one in which the wealthy cannot use their private treasuries to buy elections; one in which the natural rights of all human beings are equally acknowledged, and so forth.
This is among the most progressive and idealistic platforms in recent memory. Where the Republican front-runner has dominated his field through bigotry and bullying, Sanders has made universal appeals that stress our inherently equal value as human beings.
As time passed, the Democratic field narrowed to just two contenders—Sen. Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The former drew support overwhelmingly from young people enticed by his forthright progressive values and declaration of political revolution. The latter consistently performed well with Democrats 35 and older who wanted to see a continuation of President Obama’s administrative agenda.
Democratic primary contests began on Feb. 1 of this year and are still ongoing. Since then, Clinton has amassed a daunting lead over Sanders, for the most part due to the tentative support of 520 superdelegates.
Clinton currently has the pledged support of 1,700 delegates to Sanders’ 1,401. Taking superdelegates into consideration, however, Clinton has the support of 2,220 total delegates to Sanders’ 1,449. And given that 2,383 delegates are needed to win the Democratic nomination, it looks all but certain that the Vermont senator’s upstart campaign is nearly finished.
If that’s the case—and I must acknowledge it as such—we are out of a political revolution.
There will be no overturn of Citizens United, which effectively creates legal permission for the wealthy to buy elections through unlimited campaign contributions. There will be no one in our Oval Office to rail against the excesses of Wall Street and break up the big banks, as Teddy Roosevelt did over a century ago. We will not have a president who cares about the welfare of our planet and the overall welfare of every member of our society with the same vehemence that Sen. Sanders has displayed.
I composed this article as a send-off to one of the most visionary campaigns I’ve ever beheld.
Against the ominous darkness of Trumpism, Sanders has aimed to deliver a campaign predicated on the fundamental ideals of human solidarity and equal opportunity for all. The ideas put forth by the Sanders campaign are noble; their main exponent continues to believe in them and fight for them day by day.
I can’t accurately diagnose why it is that a campaign guided by such noble principles hasn’t been able to best the stale methods and tactics employed by Clinton. Well-placed zeal and conviction have not been able to overcome political posturing and maneuvering. It’s a bit disheartening.
In the end, perhaps current vox populi is simply not on Sanders’ side. Perhaps the people of the United States are not ready to stage the kind of political revolution Sanders so passionately wants to effect.
I can’t help but think it would be great if that weren’t the case.
Featured Photo Credit: Feature photo courtesy of Flickr user Randy Bayne.
Horus Alas is senior philosophy major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.