Faces behind the voices: The Democrats

Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton (L), Bernie Sanders. © Chris Keane
A democratic socialist versus a pillar of the Washington establishment: Same base, different ideologies. What is it about Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton that resonates with Democratic voters? We went out and asked.

Back in February, Ryan Kerr and I profiled the supporters of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio (who has since dropped out of the race) on RT America’s show Watching the Hawks. Our goal was to help viewers get a sense of who is behind the candidates for the Republican nomination. We wanted to present the actual, real-life human stories behind the loud – and sometimes absurd – voices that plaster the mainstream media’s coverage of this election season in the US.

This month, we went among the Democrats to present their half of the equation, in our ongoing series “The Faces Behind the Voices.” We found that there was not as much variety in approach to the candidates in the Democratic Party as in the GOP, but there were plenty of differences between the supporters of Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

The reasons why our interviewees support Bernie or Hillary as their candidate of choice are compelling, and tell a more nuanced story than the one we can expect to hear on CNN, MSNBC, or FOX.

Take for example the case of Amer Zahr, whom we interviewed from his house in Michigan.

Amer is a journalist, a comedian, and a Palestinian.

Bernie has been lambasted by the Hillary camp for being weak on foreign policy, a sphere to which Hillary is no stranger due to her days as First Lady and then as Secretary of State under President Barack Obama.

Despite Hillary’s credentials, Amer is supporting Bernie because as far as Palestine goes, “Sanders is the only choice that you can look at today and say there is a real legitimate chance of speaking to him about these issues.”

His views on Hillary’s foreign policy are very clear.

“You might also look at Hillary’s foreign policy experience and be very unpleased with it as a Palestinian. I mean, yes she has a record – it’s a record that I don’t like!”

Bridget Todd, a young female professional living in Washington, DC, also likes Bernie Sanders, but was undecided who she would eventually vote for at the point of interview.

“Bernie Sanders says a lot of things, particularly about income inequality, that I think folks weren’t saying even five or 10 years ago. I think that is very refreshing,” she said.

But despite most of Bridget’s friends being in one camp or the other, she is still undecided. Hillary Clinton still holds some kind of attraction. Why?

“I think that she is someone who is not afraid with saying what is on her mind and with making a decision that will make her disliked,” Todd told us.

Decision-making and a proven track record – the exact things Amer Zahr disapproved of – are the things that draw the Hillary supporters who we interviewed into her camp.

“Bernie is a wonderful person, he’s got a long career in the Congress. On the downside he hasn’t been a particularly effective legislator. He hasn’t shown the capacity to build coalitions to get things done,” said Lane Hudson, a long-time Hillary supporter. “Hillary Clinton is the only person who has demonstrated the capacity and the knowledge that that is what has to get done and the ability to do it.”

The same goes for Jean Qiao, a young female professional in Washington, DC.

“Hillary Clinton is the most qualified person. She has over 40 years under her belt working with Congress & international leaders as Secretary of State. To make sure that there are stricter gun laws and that everyone who owns a gun passes the proper background checks,” Qiao says.

What is our take from this? The jury seems to be split on Hillary Clinton’s record. Zahr disapproves of it, Qiao and Hudson are firm believers in her based on it, and Todd is undecided.

But does any of this even matter? Despite the growing groundswell of support for Sanders, the party’s superdelegates appear to make the nomination a lock for Clinton right now.

As we move into primaries in Wisconsin and New York, we will have to see if Sanders can win big enough to begin to sway the superdelegates into his camp.

This race, like the GOP one, is set to be a long one. This is what the Democratic Faces behind the Voices are saying.

Joseph Ricci, RT America