After a victorious Saturday in the Nevada caucuses and a growing fan base of young voters, Sen. Bernie Sanders is believed to be the front-runner of the Democratic initiative to beat incumbent President Donald Trump in the November polls.
Sanders enjoyed a near 25% lead over his Democratic opponents on Saturday following a win in New Hampshire and success in the Iowa popular vote days prior.
The Democratic Socialist, who was once the underdog, is now surpassing his anticipated rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and is slowly working toward securing the presidential nomination in June.
Though Sanders’ unprecedented success gives Progressive Democrats hope for a victorious November, his momentum has divided the Democratic party in two - a consequence of Sanders’ far-left and socialist policies that may prove advantageous for President Trump and America’s Russian adversary.
Earlier in the week, President Trump launched an investigation into Rep. Adam Schiff, former lead prosecutor during the president’s impeachment trial, alleging that he and other House Democrats purposely leaked information about Russia’s intentions to bolster Sanders’ presidential campaign. The president believes Democrats, such as Schiff, are conspiring against the presidential hopeful due to their differences in Democratic policies.
“It sounds to me like a leak from Adam Schiff because they don’t want Bernie Sanders to represent them,” Trump said.
The President’s continued research into opposing Democrats’ behavior toward Sanders and the matter of the Russian information leak suggests Trump’s intent to support Sanders as part of an underlying strategic plan.
As an outspoken “Democratic Socialist,” Sanders remains unpopular amongst moderate and conservative Democrats who don’t favor a socialist agenda, forging a rift with his liberal supporters. Sanders’ isolation within his own party and his radical political beliefs makes Sanders an ideal as the weakest opponent for the president, enabling President Trump to condemn a Democratic Socialist initiative and possibly secure a win in November.
“Donald Trump is desperate to pin the socialist label on our party,” Biden said. “We can’t let him do that,”
However, a win for Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump may benefit Russia most of all.
With Russia having expressed its approval of President Trump during its interference in the 2016 presidential election and now again for Sanders, it’s evident that Russian President Vladimir Putin would be satisfied with either candidate occupying the Oval Office.
Though Sanders and President Trump represent the two furthest ends on the political scale, neither of them are overly interested in creating offensive foreign policy to counter external adversaries. To Putin, this means less of a chance for American interference in future plans to affirm Russian influence in the West.
During a lecture at Westminster College in 2017, Sanders reiterated his proposed foreign policy plan to rely more on international peace agreements than flexing America’s military strength.
“Dialogue and debate are far preferable to war,” Sanders said. “It should be taking place at the grassroots level.”
On the other hand, while President Trump utilizes a more “stoic” strategy than a legitimate foreign policy, his elements of isolationism and militarism are often overshadowed by his efforts for “appeasement” with select foreign leaders, Putin being one of them.
The president’s appeasement strategy became evident during a summit meeting with Putin in 2018, when President Trump confronted the Russian leader about allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
President Trump quickly accepted Putin’s denial of any wrongdoing, leading many Americans to believe the U.S. president to be Putin’s “puppet.”
“President Putin just said it's not Russia,” Trump said. “I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
The dichotomy surrounding Sanders’ possible Democratic nomination could potentially incentivize Democratic voters to endorse more moderate candidates with a greater chance of defeating President Trump in the ballot box. Democratic candidates Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Gov. Pete Buttigieg continue to nip at Sanders’ heels, so there is still much left to watch as the Democratic caucuses continue.
The South Carolina primary will take place Feb. 29, where Biden is expected to win the majority delegate vote with Sanders in second place.
By Haley Hartner