Opinion Asks: 2016 Election Forerunners

by The Dartmouth Opinion Staff | 7/9/15 6:17pm

While it is still early in the race for the White House, several have already embarked on the campaign trail. Despite recent controversies surrounding his “luxury speedboat” (a 24-foot offshore fishing boat) and some ancient speeding tickets, Marco Rubio is the man to watch in the coming months. Not only does Rubio add much-needed diversity to the Republican field, he also relates to many working-class Americans. The son of poor Cuban immigrants, Rubio is in some ways the antithesis of his next-door neighbor, Jeb Bush. While the two Republican contenders hail from the same zip code, they could not be more different. Rubio’s story is not one of wealth and opulence, and it might be just what voters need to hear.

—Sarah Perez ’17

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is currently making the biggest impact on the 2016 presidential race, even if I — like many — am skeptical of his chances of grabbing the nomination. Though his name has been fairly well-known for years now, Google Trends demonstrates his recent meteoric rise to notoriety. Headlines mentioning his name have gone from three in March of this year to 100 within the first eight days of July. The hashtag “#feelthebern” has blown up on Facebook and Twitter, and sites like Redbubble have far over a dozen designs with some variation of that hashtag or “Sanders ’16.” He raised more money in the first 24 hours of his recent presidential campaign than three other mainstream candidates — Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) — all through small donors. Clearly, the man has momentum, primarily from those disillusioned with establishment politics, which Democratic frontrunner and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in particular seems to represent. In comparison to her moderate liberalism, he’s edgy and daring, willing to break with tradition and voice radical and not-so-radical ideas that many liberal and leftist youths find appealing. Yet, despite his current energetic following, I fully believe that Sanders is unelectable for the American populace at large. He has served very well in Vermont, but currently, most of the United States cannot and will not stand behind a self-identified socialist. He will likely cause the Clinton campaign to move left — whether in rhetoric or in action, only time will tell — but that will be his ultimate impact. Many may #feelthebern right now, but when the Democratic National Convention comes, that burn will long have faded away.

—Emily Albrecht ’16

I think Bernie Sanders is going to have the biggest impact on the presidential debate in the coming months. He has unusual and interesting ideas which if we carries the message properly will appeal to a wide swath of the electorate — both in primaries and in a general election — he has a strong base of supporters, and unlike the less main stream candidates the republicans perennially field, he has a brain and is not a walking gaffe-maker. The prevailing sentiment is that he will push the rhetoric and debate to the left and force Clinton to acknowledge the liberal base she needs to win the general election, but that he will inevitable lose to her. But those who doubt that Sanders can beat Clinton in the democratic primary forget the tale of a certain junior senator from Illinois eight years ago. Sanders is dynamic and anti-status-quo enough to come out on top in a long and arduous race where Clinton is already having trouble energizing voters. The certainty of Clinton’s success will begin to wane as voters see that Sanders isn’t just throwing his name in the hat for sport or spectacle and that he intends to run an honest campaign on the issues. Whether Sanders could win a general election is certainly a worry for the democratic voter, but the race is long and the desire for a fresh voice is great.

—Isaac Green ’17