From Occupy Wall Street to Bernie Sanders: the Political Legacy of a Changing Nation

What did the Bernie Sander's candidacy leave? It is early to say, but this will depend mostly on the young generation that he helped mobilize and urged to participate politically in years to come

Bernie Sanders en uno de los muchos mítines multitudinarios que realizó durante su campaña por la nominación presidencial demócrata.

Bernie Sanders en uno de los muchos mítines multitudinarios que realizó durante su campaña por la nominación presidencial demócrata. Crédito: Jeff Swensen | Getty Images

On Thursday night, in a video to his followers, Senator Bernie Sanders said he hoped that history will mark this year for the country.

“I hope that future historians will say that the movement that reversed our progress to the oligarchy and initiated the creation of a government that represents all and not just a few, began with the political revolution of 2016,” he said.

Sanders asked his followers to continue the “political revolution” by presenting their own candidates for public office at all levels, and said he was seeking not only to “transform the Democratic Party but the country.”

The big question is: will he succeed?

There is no crystal ball that’ll blurt out the outcome, but his video was watched live by over 200,000 people, an impressive figure for any political event and the vast majority of his followers are still convinced that the way forward is following the road paved by the 74-year-old Vermont senator.

And according to his campaign, the day after the announcement, some 6,700 people attended the website that Sanders invited them to visit during it, to learn more about the possibilities of pursuing a political candidacy at various levels of government.

Sanders himself reacted on Friday indicating that such a response is “extraordinary.”

Whether this evolves into real applications depends, in part, in further support in a movement that is largely outside the Democratic Party, or the expansion of the very own.

For over a year, Sanders held an unlikely presidential campaign from the American Left that many believed dead, but mobilized millions of young working people who have served as volunteers, have donated from out of their pocket and continue hopefully waiting for a change.

But now Sanders has told them that the only possible change will take place if they take the initiative, and integrate themselves into the political system to “transform” it.

Although it is still early to know the long-term effect of Sanders’s candidacy and the movement he generated, some people see it as the continuation of “Occupy Wall Street”, a series of protests that began in September 2011 and focused the country’s attention on economic and social disparity, creating the phrase “the 1%” to denote the elite class that Sanders has used a lot.

“Sanders’s candidacy is a movement that continued the conversation, initiated by Occupy Wall Street, on economic and political inequality in this country,” said Thomas De Luca, a political scientist at Fordham University.

“Sanders managed to raise further discussion of these issues, and had a significant impact on the younger generation,” said De Luca. “The timing is important because no one else dared to do challenge Hillary Clinton as he did, and it has had its effect.”

Although Sanders has said that one of his objectives is to include many of his ideas on the platform of the Democratic Party, some doubt that it can have a long term effect. After the convention, almost nobody pays any attention to the platform, they say.

“It is true that the platform does not require anything, nor does it have legal force,” said De Luca. “But that does not mean that Hillary Clinton, as a candidate and then, if elected, is not under pressure, especially if Sanders’ followers advance in public office, or at least, stick to the political discussion.”

However, public officials who previously supported Sanders, as Congressman Raul Grijalva Arizona, one of the few high-profile Latinos who were next to the senator, already announced official support for Hillary Clinton’s virtually nominated candidacy.

Sanders himself, during his speech on Thursday, said that his candidacy’s achievements were already evident. For example, how he was able to finance his campaign against the “corrupt system of financing that exists in the nation.”

For De Luca, however, he proved more. There is a new generation in America that wants to implement progressive ideas and is not afraid of the “socialist” label.

“Decades ago, many decades, no candidate or figure called socialist got far,” De Luca said. “While I believe that he is rather a “New Deal” Democrat, it is clear that there is a new American who’s ideas are different and wants to see a more just society.”

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Bernie Sanders Elecciones 2016

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