In a departure from the historical grandeur of presidential bid announcements, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders began his campaign with grace, simplicity and subtlety. His Feb. 19 announcement was notable in its lack of showiness; armed solely with an announcement on the Vermont Public Radio and an impassioned Facebook post and video, Senator Sanders allowed his progressive platform to take center stage.
In this age of passion in politics, Senator Sanders’ straightforwardness and overall lack of scandal could either be a detriment to his campaign or an essential part of a possible win. What does his no-nonsense stance mean for the future of American presidential bid announcements? He’s certainly already set himself apart from the others.
Elizabeth Warren’s campaign announcement was constructed entirely around pathos. Email after email hinted at a special surprise from the politician, and she rallied her supporters enthusiastically in the heart of Massachusetts for her speech.
The current president Donald Trump’s preferred method of publicity during his 2016 campaign seemed to be drama and scandal — and this seemed to work. While most wrote Trump off as just a reality star, his flashy persona and interactions with the press changed the face of the American campaign tradition forever. Just as the invention of the television secured Kennedy his spot, so did the invention of Twitter for Trump.
The Sanders campaign thus far seems to be a departure from his first, just as much as it is from Trump’s 2016 run. His 2016 bid went down in Democratic Party history as one of the most impassioned, and finally emotionally heart-wrenching of them all. His Simon and Garfunkel “America” campaign video remains iconic in my memory.
The 2020 Sanders campaign seems to be taking cues on what worked and what didn’t from last time around. He still seems to be calling on a grassroots mass; the senator has maintained and even strengthened his policies on hot button issues such as mass incarceration and human rights.
Now, however, he has focused his campaign on mitigating and otherwise reversing the damaging effects of the Trump presidency on the United States. Many criticized his first run as being naive. His anti-establishment message resonated in combination with the oft-repeated fact of his $27 average campaign contribution. And he seems to be doing well on the funding front today: 24 hours following his straightforward social media announcement Sanders raised a record $6 million for his campaign.
It does seem that despite the subtlety of his initial announcement, his bid is becoming increasingly aggressive. The overly-enthusiastic rallies and the social media campaigns are ramping up his support from likely demographics — college students and disappointed Democrats alike. It seems as though while his first bid was widely criticized, that momentum is pushing his current campaign to the forefront.
Before, it seemed the common man was his focus. The same thing can be said for his campaign this cycle — only the common man he’s focused on is our president. In this more aggressive anti-Trump campaign, his former human rights positivity cannot be lost.
Solely time and polls will reveal if the senator’s second run will be widely successful or a brutal disappointment. Against all odds, I’m hoping for the best. The positivity of his first campaign still resonates with me, like it does with many others. Because the 2016 elections destroyed all semblance of sense in the presidential campaign tradition, only unconventionality can win now. If Sanders realizes this, and he pulls on the momentum of his last campaign with an added few new spins, he might just secure a spot as nominee — if not our president.