Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders made a joint appearance Wednesday with Hillary Clinton at the University of New Hampshire in Durham in an attempt to stanch the sharp fall in support for the Democratic presidential candidate among students and youth.
Earlier this month, a national Quinnipiac poll found that Clinton’s lead among voters 18 to 34 over her Republican opponent, Donald Trump, had collapsed from 24 to 5 points since early August. Sanders was dispatched on September 17 to speak at the University of Akron and Kent State University to cajole students in the swing state of Ohio to not vote for third-party candidates such as Gary Johnson of the Libertarians or Jill Stein of the Greens, and vote instead for the Democrat Clinton in order to defeat Trump.
In New Hampshire, Sanders and Clinton promoted their proposals to make public colleges tuition-free for students from families earning less than $125,000 a year and ease the burden of student debt payments. This was a calculated effort to exploit the economic difficulties of students to counter the deep and broad hostility to Clinton among young people, who for the most part see her as a corrupt representative of Wall Street and the political establishment.
As both Clinton and Sanders are well aware, there is virtually no chance of getting such measures passed by the next Congress, in which the Republicans will likely continue to control at least the House of Representatives. As for existing student debt, all they are proposing is to allow students to refinance their loans. There is no talk of canceling the massive debt burdens that are crushing an entire generation of young people.
Neither speaker made any mention of foreign policy or the war-mongering agitation against Russia that has become a centerpiece of Clinton’s campaign. The utterly reactionary and cynical role of Sanders, whose “political revolution” in the primary campaign has revealed itself to be hack work for the Democratic Party, was underscored by the fact that Wednesday’s appearance came just two days after the first debate between Clinton and Trump.
In that spectacle of political reaction and mutual mud-slinging, Clinton continued to attack the fascistic billionaire Trump from the right on foreign policy, reiterating her charge that he is a dupe of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Clinton repeated her campaign’s claim, once again without any substantiation, that the Putin regime is responsible for hacking into the computers of the Democratic National Committee in an effort to swing the election in Trump’s favor.
She singled out Russia, China and Iran as alleged cyberwarfare perpetrators and threatened to respond militarily. She also pledged to escalate the war against ISIS and increase arms to Washington’s Islamist proxy forces in its war for regime-change against the Russian-backed regime in Damascus. This is a policy that brings ever closer a direct military conflict with Russia, the second biggest nuclear power in the world.
When asked at Monday’s debate about her position on a policy of nuclear first-strikes, she ignored the question, tacitly signaling to the Pentagon and the CIA her support for the policy.
None of this prevented Sanders, who attracted broad support in his primary run against Clinton, especially from young people, by presenting himself as a “democratic socialist” leading a “political revolution” against social inequality and the “billionaire class,” from touting Clinton as a progressive partisan of working people and youth.
Beginning with a demagogic flourish, Sanders declared, “Is everybody here ready to transform America?” He continued: “If we are prepared to stand up to powerful and wealthy and greedy special interests, there is nothing that we cannot accomplish…”
He said this while standing next to and hailing someone who has amassed tens of millions of dollars in speaking fees at Wall Street banks and has the support in the election of the bulk of Fortune 500 CEOs. The supposedly “progressive” Clinton has focused her campaign on winning the support of CIA and military officials and leading Republicans, including Bush administration authors of the invasion of Iraq such as Paul Wolfowitz.
Sanders evidently believes that the American people are infinitely gullible and cannot see through a “political revolution” that consists of supporting the favored candidate of the financial aristocracy and the CIA. In fact, his vote-hustling for Clinton has earned him the contempt and hatred of millions of his former supporters.
He concluded his brief warm-up for Clinton with a get-out-vote appeal: “All of you know that New Hampshire is a battleground state. This is a very tight election. I’m asking you not only to vote for Secretary Clinton, but to work hard to get your uncles and aunts and friends to vote…It is imperative that we elect Hillary Clinton as our next president.”
In her remarks, Clinton for the most part touted her college tuition and student debt proposals. But she also used the occasion to once again appeal for support among Republicans and the military. “We are not only electing a president,” she said, “we’re electing a commander in chief, someone who will protect our country.”
She went on to boast of having obtained the endorsement of John Warner, a former Navy secretary and five-term Republican senator from Virginia. “One hundred and fifty Republicans in New Hampshire are supporting my campaign,” she added.
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