Sanders Could Win
By Ted Rall
January 23, 2016 "Information
- The independent senator from Vermont says the
economic system is rigged against working-class
Americans. He's right.
electoral political system is a subsidiary of those
who rule the economy. Which is why Bernie Sanders
never stood a chance. The political system was
rigged against him.
yet, despite the formidable institutional obstacles
stacked against him, Sanders is doing great: largely
considered a shoo-in to win New Hampshire, leading
in Iowa, closing the gap nationally. Surprised
pundits are marveling at his popular momentum,
ground organization and fundraising prowess. There
is now a credible path to the Democratic nomination
and, if he runs against GOP frontrunner Donald
Trump, to the White House.
Center-right Clinton wants to know: how did this
Leftists wonder: is this cause for hope?
an amazing story. Everyone in a position to block
Sanders' campaign did everything they could to
Knowing that coverage is the essential oxygen of
politics, the media mostly ignored him. By one
measure, corporate media gave Trump 23 times more
coverage than Sanders! On the few occasions when
they spilled a little ink on Bernie, it was to
insult him and his socialist politics. (My personal
Exhibit A was a New York Times piece that carried a
photo that emphasized his bald spot.)
Marginalization always used to work. Remember John
Edwards? His 2008 primary campaign was doomed
because TV networks refused to cover him. But the
media's cold shoulder isn't hurting Bernie Sanders.
the bag for Hillary Clinton and remembering the
lesson of 2008 -- the more voters hear from her, the
less they like her -- the Democratic National
Committee fed her aura of inevitability by refusing
to give Sanders the exposure and legitimacy offered
by a robust round of debates. Debates, the few of
them the manipulative DNC chair and Clinton toady
Debbie Wasserman Schultz allowed to take place, were
scheduled for the nights known for low television
tactic backfired. Clinton did better than Sanders in
the first three debates. But no one saw her flex her
Bernie got nothing but chicanery from the DNC, to
the point that the Sanders camp had to sue to access
its own voter data. Which only reinforced his image
as a rebel -- not easy for a U.S. senator -- and
further endeared him to his supporters.
Despite everything, Sanders could win.
Moreover, it's not just Sanders the candidate who is
doing well. His "unusual" politics are becoming
Sanders' self-labeling as a democratic socialist --
universally considered political suicide in the
United States -- is catching on. In one of the most
surprising poll results of the 2016 race, a recent
survey of likely Iowa caucus-goers finds that more
of them call themselves socialist (43 percent) than
capitalist (38 percent).
did Iowa's socialists come from? They certainly
weren't indoctrinated by the mainstream system. No
ideology, -- not even radical Islam -- has come
under heavier systemic assault than socialism. From
the Palmer Raids of a century ago to McCarthyism to
the Tea Party's (sadly mistaken) insinuations that
President Obama is a secret red, socialism has been
the bete rouge of mainstream American politics:
reviled in ridiculous movies, misrepresented and
excluded from acceptable public debate, even on the
watered-down liberalism that passes for a "left."
Even in schools, socialism and communism are lied
about -- if they're mentioned at all.
friend, the film critic Cole Smithey, calls what
we're seeing "the failure of propaganda."
certainly a notable moment. The ruling elite's old
tricks are indeed failing them. But it's too early
to declare propaganda dead and gone. Propaganda
works. That's why those in power keep using it.
Here's what I think is really going on: old
institutions have been discredited. Sanders' growing
support and Iowa's surprisingly socialist hordes
reflect public contempt for everyone in charge.
Pundits have mostly focused on populist anger on the
right, embodied by the wild neofascist-lite
pronouncements of Donald Trump. But there is just as
much rage on the left excluded from the Democratic
Party since George McGovern's 1972 defeat to Richard
Nixon. Divided or not, one thing Americans can agree
upon is that they don't trust government -- on the
right to leave them alone, and on the left to help
Propaganda is still effective. But when it's
broadcast by elites who are widely despised, its
effect is opposite of what's intended.
Hillary Clinton racks up endorsements from unions
and left-leaning organizations like Planned
Parenthood. In the past, these would have given her
a boost. This year, it reinforces a negative framing
of her as bought and paid for by special interests.
days of yore, the endorsement of a young actress
starring in a hip TV show would have been a feather
in Clinton's cap. In 2016, it's hard to imagine how
poor Lena Dunham will wash away the stink of Hillary
Clinton's hard-edged corporatism.
Clinton has an incredible resume: first lady,
senator, secretary of state. This year, she'd be
better off as an outsider. Credentials subtract from
her credibility. What's wrong now, voters feel, is
partly her fault.
Bernie Sanders' campaign gets accused of improperly
accessing Clinton's data on DNC servers. In the old
days, the smell of an ethical breach might have
doomed his candidacy. Now, because Democratic voters
are disgusted by the DNC's brazen attempt to fix the
primaries for Clinton, the controversy looks like
another sleazy attack on Bernie the outsider.
Because the public distrusts journalists, the media
blackout works in Sanders' favor. Through the lens
of this new politics of contempt, if the powers that
be want to censor the "wild and crazy" socialist
senator, he musn't be that bad after all.
Bernie Sanders really needs is for Hillary Clinton
to receive Obama's endorsement -- which she
obviously, foolishly, wants. That would be the end
same reverse-propaganda paradigm holds true for
socialism. As America's continuously lauded state
religion, capitalism takes the blame for all its
associated evils: layoffs, stagnant wages, home
foreclosures, health insurance companies that don't
pay claims. If socialism is anti-capitalism, an
alienated populace has evidently concluded, it
doesn't matter that they don't know very much about
it. Socialism can't be that bad.
elected, President Sanders will be ineffective.
Either that, or he'll sell us out. Such is the
nature of this system: it chews up and spits out
those who don't go along to get along.
Sanders victory would nonetheless mark an important
prerevolutionary moment. As Che Guevara observed,
people will not resort to armed struggle before they
exhaust every last opportunity to nonviolently
reform the existing system by casting their votes in
Sanders Administration would be our best, last, 100
percent doomed shot at fixing a rigged regime.
Rall, syndicated writer and the cartoonist for
ANewDomain.net and SkewedNews.net, is the author of
"Snowden," about the NSA whistleblower. His new book
"Bernie" about Democratic presidential candidate
Bernie Sanders,is now out. Want to support
independent journalism? You can subscribe to Ted
Rall at Beacon.
COPYRIGHT 2016 TED RALL
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