CNN’s Sally Kohn takes a step back from the Trump circus tent for a more panoramic view of this year’s presidential campaigns. When the poles snap underneath the Trump circus tent, and they will, the biggest story of the year is the idea and policy based quest of Bernie Sanders. Do you agree that This year’s biggest story is Bernie Sanders?
But Sanders supporters mark a new, enthusiastic bloc of citizens who because they have faith in a candidate like Sanders now have renewed faith in the system in which he is thriving.As a result, these supporters may increasingly see government as a potential tool for change — one that can work well if we work to change it. Whether he wins or not, I expect the biggest part of Sanders’ legacy will be a generation of engaged, honest and bold leaders who work within government and not just outside and against it.And in that sense, Bernie Sanders isn’t going away. Neither is his message. Or his voters.Not in this primary. Not in the general election. And not in the foreseeable future of American politics.And just as the Republican Party will now have to grapple with the angry, alienated voters fracturing off from the GOP establishment, the Democratic Party will have to address the seemingly far larger number of hopeful, idealistic and energetic voters who have bolstered Sanders campaign. Polls show Sanders beating Trump in a potential general election match-up by an average of 17 points.While the Republican Party figures out how it can possibly be even more anti-immigrant and anti-woman, the Democratic establishment has to reconcile its hawkish, centrist, big business and Wall Street cozy policies of the past several decades with the strong populist pull of the Democratic base.And Democrats are going to have to contend with these voters not just because they’re shaking their fists every couple of years but because they’re running for office and taking over local party infrastructure and energetically filling and reviving positions in government bureaucracy.To the extent that Donald Trump may be killing the Republican Party, Bernie Sanders is doing the opposite — reviving the Democratic Party and imbuing it with a new generation of engaged, optimistic leadership. Bernie Sanders has already changed the current election with his dogged focus on income inequality and economic justice. Sanders’ supporters will change elections and politics for decades to come.