THE US independent ‘democratic socialist’ Senator Bernie Sanders has become front-runner for the Democratic Party nomination to stand against Trump in the presidential election due this year.
In the New Hampshire Democratic primary on Tuesday, Sanders took the lead with 26% of the vote for the 78-year-old veteran left-winger with the right-wing candidate – the unknown Pete Buttigieg – coming second with 24% and the equally unknown Senator Amy Klobuchar third with 20%.
Former vice-president Joe Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren were smashed politically, as they were in the previous vote last week in Iowa, with Biden driven into a humiliating fifth place and Warren slumping to fourth. Previously Biden had been touted as a shoe-in for the Democratic nomination with Warren as his main threat.
Now these two stalwarts of the Democratic Party right-wing have been soundly thrashed by workers and young people who have pushed Sanders into the lead for the presidential nomination.
It was exactly a year ago that Sanders announced that he would make a second attempt to win the Democratic Party nomination – a move that was enthusiastically endorsed by US trade unions drawn to his pledge to ban all ‘right-to-work’ anti-union laws and that he would run the first ‘unionised Presidential campaign in history.’
Sanders’ campaign on the demands for universal healthcare, Medicare for All, support for the demand for an increase in the minimum wage and his opposition to Trump’s war drive against Iran, has won him the support of millions of workers, their unions and youth throughout the US.
Despite all the fantastical boasts from Trump about how America is booming, the reality for American workers is that 40 million live in poverty and 18 million in extreme poverty while 50 million US citizens have no medical insurance.
Not surprisingly, Sanders’ campaign has won the support of millions with his demand for free health care and that student tuition fees should be abolished along with his support for workers rights.
The support for Sanders can only grow enormously as Trump intensifies his war against workers and youth on behalf of a bankrupt capitalist class.
This was clearly signalled in Trump’s federal budget for next year which proposed to cut spending on Medicaid to the poorest people by $920 billion, and reduce food stamp spending, on which millions of poor rely just to eat, by $181 billion.
At the same time, Trump proposes to increase spending on the military by $740 billion, including $50 million on developing new tactical nuclear weapons along with another $2 billion for Trump’s wall with Mexico.
US workers and youth are in no doubt about the absolute priorities of the American ruling class – war against the people of the world and war against the working class at home.
The surge in support for Sanders and the humiliating defeat for the leading Democrat right-wing in these elections shows that the American working class is refusing to sit back and have the entire crisis of capitalism dumped on it.
The reformist weakness of the democratic socialist Sanders is that, as before, he went out of his way in his victory speech on Tuesday to stress that he would support any candidate that won the nomination.
This time workers and youth must make sure that he does not passively accept being gerrymandered out of the nomination, as happened three years ago by a Democratic leadership that hates even democratic socialism more than it hates Trump and the Republicans.
Sanders must stand absolutely firm on his demands for free health care and workers’ rights.
The massive support for Sanders demonstrates conclusively that American workers, far from being scared by the prospect of socialism, are embracing it as the only way forward out of the crisis of capitalism.
As Trump’s boom explodes into a massive crash, the issue before the working class will be to take the power, expropriate the bosses and bankers and go forward to socialism.
The urgent task today is building a section of the International Committee of the Fourth International in the US to lead the socialist revolution to its victory.