Clinton-Sanders meet: A ceasefire for Trump
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Clinton-Sanders meet: A ceasefire for Trump

The Clinton-Sanders subplot will determine the coalition that will emerge to stop the presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump

editorials Updated: Jun 16, 2016 18:47 IST
Hindustan Times
Hillary Clinton,Bernie Sanders,Donald Trump
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in New York, April 14 (Reuters)

We are now in the business end of the US presidential elections calendar. Hillary Clinton is the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party, ahead of the convention in July. There’s been no let-up in the campaign’s intensity with Donald Trump aggravating many with his misogynist, racist, anti-minority rhetoric and frequently offensive posturing, like reiterating calls for a halt to Muslim immigration to the US following the shooting in Orlando.

Usually at this stage, the assurance of Democrats gets stronger since a combination of white liberals, minorities and women is enough to swing the race in most states but this time Mr Trump’s populism is finding a lot of resonance with the white working class, which is struggling amid the economic downturn. Ms Clinton’s problems are compounded by the popularity of Senator Bernie Sanders, whose pronounced Left-wing platform has given him cult status among young people. The Clinton-Sanders contest has been an intense one with the latter constantly drawing attention to the former’s connections with the big banks and his accusation that Ms Clinton is too much in hock with the oligarchy that controls Washington to be able to implement the redistributive policies that he has in mind.

Read: Hillary wins Washington DC, has brief meeting with Sanders

A lot therefore depends on Ms Clinton and Mr Sanders mending fences. Both the leaders met for two hours on Tuesday in an effort to bridge the difference, but left by different exits without briefing reporters. Mr Sanders is yet to formally endorse Ms Clinton but both campaigns have spoken about the need to stop Mr Trump. This subplot within the Democratic Party will have an important on the nation-wide coalition that emerges to challenge Mr Trump. Mr Sanders secured 12 million votes as compared to Ms Clinton’s 16 million. The problem for Ms Clinton, as a New York Times/CBS poll found, is that 28% of Mr Sanders supporters do not want to vote for her. Mr Sanders clearly knows this and wants to push Ms Clinton to the Left on issues such as minimum wage, higher taxes, universal healthcare, free education in public colleges and electoral reform.

Read: Declaring a historic victory, Clinton turns fire on Trump in her White House bid

US President Barack Obama gestured to Mr Sanders’ importance during his endorsement speech for Ms Clinton, when he praised Mr Sanders for shining a spotlight on economic inequality, the influence of money in politics and for bringing in people to vote. Mr Sanders offers Ms Clinton the chance to connect with young voters, clarify the progressive agenda and make the Democrats’ offering a lot more distinctive from the Republicans than it has been. Ms Clinton now has to choose between competing values of consistency and adaptability.

First Published: Jun 16, 2016 18:47 IST