COULD the American equivalent of Jeremy Corbyn become the next president of the United States?

In an uncanny parallel with the recent surprise election of an anti-establishment figure to the leadership of the Labour Party in the UK, a similar story looks like it could play out on the other side of the Atlantic.

Left-wing Bernie Sanders, who began as an outsider in the race to become Democrat nominee is beginning to look like a genuine threat to Hillary Clinton.

A new poll shows that Clinton is now trailing the Vermont senator in the state of New Hampshire. Nearly half say they plan to vote for him with support coming from most demographic groups. More importantly the poll of Democrat voters’ intentions shows Clinton’s appeal sliding while Sanders’s is inexorably rising.

It is maybe not yet time for Clinton to panic but, with more money and high profile supporters failing to push her ahead, she has reason to be worried as the latest poll follows one showing that Sanders is the top choice for Democrats in the state of Iowa.

He is still a long way from winning the race but characteristically remains undaunted.

“I am a United States senator; I did win my last election with 71 per cent of the vote,” he said. “So it’s not just like someone just walked in off the street and suddenly they’re Hillary Clinton’s main challenger. We’ve been doing this for a few years.”


SANDERS, who describes himself as a democratic socialist, has already made history by being the longest serving independent in US congressional history and is one of the most radical politicians in the Senate.

Born in Brooklyn in 1941, the son of a Polish immigrant whose family perished in the Holocaust, he became interested in politics at an early age. “A guy named Adolf Hitler won an election in 1932 ... and 50 million people died as a result ... what I learned as a little kid is that politics is, in fact, very important,” he said.

With his father earning a meagre income selling paint for a living, Sanders was aware early on of the disparity of income in the US.

“I saw unfairness, that was a major inspiration in my politics,” he said recently.

As a student at the University of Chicago, he became involved in the civil rights movement, leading rallies against the university’s segregated housing policy and staging the first civil rights sit-in at the university.

“We feel it is an intolerable situation when Negro and white students of the university cannot live together in university owned apartments,” Sanders said at a protest.

After leaving university, he held a number of different jobs, married and divorced his first wife, then began his political career in 1971, joining the anti-Vietnam war Liberty Union Party.

Sanders left the party in 1979 and ran as an independent candidate for mayor of the town of Burlington in Vermont in 1981. Seen as a radical and agitator, his election was viewed with horror by conservative voters but he proved to be a hard-working, committed champion of the town and was re-elected three more times.


DESPITE his rumpled clothes and unruly hair he managed to win a seat in the US House of Representatives in 1990 as an independent and criticised both Democrats and Republicans on a regular basis.

He was incensed by US plans to invade Iraq and told the House: “As a caring nation, we should do everything we can to prevent the horrible suffering that a war will cause.”

In 2006, he ran for Senate, beating Republican businessman Richard Tarrant despite the latter spending millions of pounds of his own money on his campaign.

Sanders made an even greater impression on American voters in 2010 when he ranted for more than eight hours against President George W Bush’s plans to cut tax for the rich.

“Enough is enough! ... How many homes can you own?” he asked.

The cuts went through but, in response to his speech, online petitions sprang up urging him to run for president.

He eventually gave in to pressure and in May announced his intention to run.

Social media has helped his campaign gain momentum and his moral and uncompromising stance on issues such as poverty, war and health care have won him many fans.

He wants a raise in the minimum wage, universal health care, a reduction in the burden of student debt, the taxing of financial transactions to pay for the abolition of college and university tuition fees, expanded social security benefits, better rights for workers, radical action to reverse global warming with sustainability and energy efficiency a priority.

He has also called for a reduction in the number of people in prison, a crackdown on police brutality and institutional racism and the abolition of private, for-profit prisons.

Sanders favours financial reforms including breaking up “too big to fail” financial institutions. He is an advocate for LGBTI rights and is pro-choice when it comes to abortion.

In echoes of the Corbyn campaign, his support comes from the grassroots rather than other Democrat high-flyers who see politics primarily as a career choice instead of a way to create a more equal society. His refusal over the years to compromise on his beliefs has often driven them to fury but he remains baffled that they just don’t get his priorities.

Sanders’ message has remained unchanged over the years and with the gap growing between rich and poor there are many ready to hear it.