Bernie Sanders Announces His Run For 2020: What’s Changed Since 2016?

Samantha Whittle, Contributing Writer

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On February 19th, 2019, Bernie Sanders announced he would be running for president in 2020. This isn’t his first time in the presidential elections; in 2016, he ran against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries.

It isn’t surprising that he decided to run again – after his loss in the primaries, he essentially said that he wasn’t through yet. But the atmosphere of his second run has completely shifted from what it was during his first run.

At first these changes seem positive, supporting Sanders’s chances in the election. People actually know his name, and are more than familiar with his policies and past. And despite the fact that Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders lie on complete opposite ends of the political spectrum, Trump has actually voiced support for Sanders, due to the fact that he believes they are both outsiders to the land of typical politicians.

Trump’s administration has not necessarily been surprising, but a minority of his voters have turned a new leaf and regretted their decision to vote him into office. Due to the general distrust of politicians that has been rampant since Nixon’s time in the 1970s, Sanders seems like a clear choice for these newly disenfranchised voters looking for a new anti-politician.

Additionally, many liberal voters are thrilled at the prospect of Sanders running again. After the fiasco that was Hillary Clinton’s run, as a result of her “bad reputation” due to her husband’s presidency and Benghazi, many have also believed that if Sanders had won the primaries, he could have defeated Trump, unlike Clinton. These voters believe that due to Sanders’s less common approach to politics, as well as the slight support from Trump, and his lack of a negative history, could make him a winner.

And then, of course, he has his original following, consistently mainly of far leftists, college students, and minority groups. Sanders has attracted many young people who are facing the threat of looming college debts, climate change’s dark consequences, nuclear warfare, and increasing poverty. All of Sanders’s policy suggestions have focused on these crises.

The same goes for problems faced by minority and oppressed groups. In a post by Shaun King on Twitter, Bernie Sanders’s past in politics and civil rights is detailed and shown to have begun in the 1960s. It would seem that Sanders has always been on the side of the oppressed, willing to put in the work and use his privilege as a white, middle class man.

So why is it that many of his former supporters have turned against him?

The immediate reaction by many is the fact that whoever wins the Democratic primaries will need to unite the Democratic and liberal voters, and Sanders’s policies could be too extreme to do that. However,  there are far more serious concerns.

Since the presidential elections of 2016, a major movement has occurred that has shaken US and international politics: #MeToo. In the wake of the mass movement calling for justice for sexual assault survivors, it was revealed that various women working for the Sanders campaign were sexually harassed. Similarly, black staff members of the campaign were met with “a plethora of microaggressions,” as they told the New York Times. Sanders has since apologized for these problems, but he originally in 2016 refused to acknowledge them.

There’s more than just issues within his campaign. Many people of color have stated that they feel Sanders has a “white savior complex,” which often focuses more on his image rather than actually helping the communities that he claims to support. He often does not denounce his followers racist language, despite doing so to his political adversaries.

Following Trump’s State of the Union Address of 2019, Stacey Abrams was asked by the Democratic Party to deliver a response to the address. However, Bernie Sanders delivered his own anyway, refusing to give a woman of color the chance to speak.

There are many more examples in his voting history that make himself appear as a white savior, a man trying to be a knight in shining armor for minorities without listening to them. As Twitter user Brotha B. said, “Bernie’s ‘democratic socialism’ is still settler colonialism. It still advances colonialism in [the United States] and abroad.”

But while we live in Trump’s America, is there any hope for something better?

With other Democratic candidates continuing to announce their run, the race is still hazy, and it is unclear what kind of politician it will take to win against the Trump administration. The only thing for certain is that this presidential race is nothing like that of 2016, for Bernie Sanders and voters alike.