The cravenness of the mainstream media in the wake of Bernie Sanders trouncing of Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire primary was of two minds: they had been “expecting” this result for the past six months—or it was not a big deal, merely a nasty speedbump for the Clinton race to the White House. On the Seattle Times website the headline is “Sanders wins big over Clinton in NH, garnering wide support.” But it is not a victorious Sanders pictured below the headline, but an insanely beaming Hillary and Bill in front of cheering partisans holding “Fighting for us” campaign signs, an indication that the Clinton camp is so desperate that it is stealing Sanders’ own raison d'etre; she is expecting voters to ignore the fact this is what Sanders has been doing his whole political life. Hillary has been in it only for herself—her gleeful look in the picture, seemingly completely out-of-touch with reality, reveals as much.
The truth of the matter is that since Clinton didn’t technically lose Iowa, some observers and Clinton partisans were under the impression that there would be second thoughts by enough New Hampshire voters about supporting Sanders to tighten the vote enough for them to claim a “victory” of sorts. As in 2008, Clinton also shamelessly deployed her gender “victim” shtick to gain voter sympathy, which did help her gain a “surprising” if slim victory over Obama in the primary. But not only didn’t it work this time, it seems more likely that Sanders’ strong showing in Iowa merely energized his supporters in New Hampshire.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, took no time in poo-pooing the result, implying that the citizens of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina are relative provincials in the “big picture,” a position that CNN and other Clinton media partisans took no time in parroting. In a memo released soon after the first numbers came in, Mook wrote that “The March states better reflect the true diversity of the Democratic Party and the nation – including large populations of voters who live in big cities and small towns, and voters with a much broader range of races and religions.”
There are many problems with these assumptions. Clinton won Iowa by two whiskers despite the fairly centrist-to-conservative leaning of those who voted in the caucus, and Sanders’ margin of victory in New Hampshire was just too big to “explain” by demographic particularities. Telling the same young and first-time voters who rallied behind Barack Obama in 2008 that they are not part of that “diversity” is also suggestive of the kind of illogic that hampered the Clinton campaign back then. I also suspect that working class voters in the Midwest would feel that Sanders is more in tune with their issues and problems than the privileged, self-entitled Clinton is.
Black voters too should realize that upon closer inspection, Sanders has their best interests in mind; he talks jobs before CEO billions, and living wages, while Clinton just wants their vote, do a couple of high-fives, and see you later. Even if it is a difficult hill to climb, you know that Sanders won’t back down from his principles; with Clinton, the question is not if she bends backward to appease Republicans, but how far once her own ego has been satisfied. As far as religion is concerned, since when have the Clintons shown respect for religion?
It is just that kind of hypocrisy that gave voters pause during the pre-primary phase when they were instructed by the media to do what they “had” to do—or rather felt they were being forced to do by the conservative and gender politics elements of the Democratic establishment. But Sanders, like Obama, knew of the underlying weakness in support for Clinton, and all that voters leery of Clinton needed was someone who could expose it.
That weakness, of course, is that unlike Obama—who was clearly an idealist who wanted to do great things for people rather than play armchair general—and Sanders, who for 50 years espoused the philosophy of the many over the few, Clinton continues to come off as someone who is a user for her own ends. In an AP story, a 24-year-old Sanders supporter spoke for many: “‘I felt like he was the most honest. He’s had the same views forever, and he’s never budged. That makes me feel confident in him.’” This undercuts the claim by the Clinton camp and the media that Sanders can’t win—as do recent polls that show Sanders doing better than Clinton against potential Republicans candidates.
I’ve seen news organizations use a headshot of Clinton with her hand under her chin staring out into space, as if this is supposed to reflect “thoughtfulness.” Or is it befuddlement—let’s not forget that Clinton won New Hampshire in 2008. In 2016, Sanders’ overwhelming victory over the media and Democratic establishment favorite in the state could well provide food for thought for voters in other states. Yes, there is an alternative that speaks for you.