Following Thursday’s Democratic debate between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, CNN and other media outlets that have staked every ounce of their credibility on Hillary’s eventual nomination—and election as president—have once more allowed the question to arise about why Sanders is such a “surprise” to many voters. I heard Sanders opine about the issues of the day every Friday on Thom Hartmann’s radio show for a year until the station it was broadcast on switched to yet another sports talk program (there is in fact no “progressive” talk radio programming at all in “progressive” Seattle; it is all unfair and mentally unbalanced right-wing rubbish).
Sanders is thus no “mystery” to me; in fact, I found his straight talk and utterly guileless concern for common people and the issues that directly affected them rather refreshing compared to the vacuous and self-serving propaganda that typically passes for political discourse in this country today. Newt Gingrich discovered that this is what “sold” in the 1980s, and the news media bought it hook, line and sinker in the 1990s—for nothing more than ratings; maintaining an informed public was not even secondary. Today, thanks largely to the Republicans, political discourse is like one side trying to shout over the other, and one comes away with nothing more than an emotional response rather than an intellectual one.
That he elicits an intellectual response (at least among younger and core Democrats) is one of the reasons why people want to know more about Sanders than what they’ve learned about him on CNN and the like. It isn’t any great “mystery” that the Clinton News Network has strained every muscle to marginalize Sanders, and fortunately that seems to be counterproductive. Since many people have gleaned virtually no information about Sanders or his positions prior to the run-up to the Iowa primaries from what they saw on television, they had to seek it on the Internet. This was a serious mistake by the pro-Hillary news media; instead of satisfying the “curiosity” of voters about Sanders with the usual superficialities, they were forced to search the Internet, where they were provided more in-depth information about him. The more people read about Sanders and his public policy positions, the more self-describe Democrats and progressives liked what they read about him.
While the Washington Post reported that Google searches during and following the debate for Clinton seemed to inquire about her own electability and if she really was in tune with the problems of ordinary people, searches for Sanders were rather surprising: 2 of the top 5 inquiries were “Who should Sanders’ VP be?” and “How do I donate to his campaign?”. It was the pro-Hillary camp’s worst nightmare: Voters are taking Sanders seriously. The same polls are also showing Sanders doing better than Clinton against potential Republican opponents. The Clintonphiles had seen this story before, when they learned the depth of voter discontent with a Hillary-or-else proposition in 2008.
Clinton’s desperation is quite apparent by her playing the tiresome gender card. This may work with older women—like Harriet Christian, the disgruntled Hillary supporter who characterized Barack Obama as an “inadequate black male”—or feminist commentator Bonnie Erbe, who had the utterly asinine gall to opine that Obama should hand over his victory in the primaries to Hillary because “white people won’t vote for you.” That statement was particularly distasteful when one recalls that in 1991, feminist fanatic Eleanor Smeal complained in USA Today about “racism against white women.” Smeal is said to be ramping up a full frontal assault to combat the apparent defection of younger feminists to Sanders, who are more interested in progressive public policy than voting for a female simply because she is a female. Clinton’s unsubtle use of gender language against Sanders is not only unfair and lowdown, but the use of it implies putting a “guilt trip” on voters—a tactic which likely will backfire on Clinton, because its overuse will eventually turn-off more male voters in the privacy of the voting booth than gaining (or rather, retaining) the female vote.
The 2016 primary season still has a long way to go, but my feeling is that if Sanders maintains his momentum, we may well see the Hillary Clinton we saw in 2008 all over again—the one succumbing to flights of illogic and fancy, appealing to the bigotry of certain demographics, and making bizarre references about a 1968 assassination. We have been told that Clinton has a “commanding” presence, but that is not how she reacted to pressure in 2008, and even now there are suggestions that she is once more succumbing to it.