Progressives to Voters Skeptical of Bernie Sanders: This ‘Big Tent’ Movement Is a Winning and Practical Choice

Jerri-Lynn here. You can read this as a companion piece to yesterday’s post by Ferguson, Chen, and Jorgensen, outlining one key element of the Sanders demographic: lower income towns in New Hampshire voted heavily for Sanders; richer towns did the opposite (Lower Income Towns in New Hampshire Voted Heavily for Sanders; Richer Towns Did the Opposite).Progressives are now reaching out to voters who remain skeptical of the self-described democratic socialist.

By Jon Queally, staff writerg for Common Dreams. Originally published at Common Dreams

While Sen. Bernie Sanders is now being declared the new Democratic frontrunner following his victories in both Iowa last week and in New Hampshire on Tuesday, progressives are reaching out to voters that remain skeptical of the self-described democratic socialist who preaches “political revolution” and whose multi-racial, working-class movement is upending what many thought was electorally possible in the United States.

In an op-ed published at MarketWatch on Tuesday, Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), explained to readers that despite how often Sanders is painted by the corporate media as a “scary” socialist who can’t possibly win a general election, his politics are in fact quite pragmatic when it comes to addressing the very real needs of everyday people. “In short,” he wrote, “Sanders is much more pragmatic and less ideological than his opponents would like to admit.”

According to Weisbrot:

Sanders’ program is targeted at correcting a very harmful transformation of the U.S. economy that has taken place over the past 40 years.

Unlike the first three decades after World War II, when income gains were broadly shared as the economy grew, most of the increase in income has gone to those who already had much more than their share. Since 1993, for example, the top 1% of families captured an astounding 48% of the growth in this country’s income.

No wonder so many Americans feel like the system is rigged against them.

For many voters, however, especially those who gain their political insights from cable news in the evenings—The Week‘s Ryan Cooper says it’s understandable why they remain unsure of Sanders’ viability even as his campaign’s message is so appealing to those exposed to it. As polling continues to show, Americans across the political spectrum widely support universal healthcare, a higher minimum wage, cancellation of college and medical debt, and the call for urgent action to address the climate crisis.

“It can be hard to see this,” Cooper wrote in a column published Wednesday morning, “if you watch too much of the hysterically anti-Sanders coverage on supposedly-liberal MSNBC—Chris Matthews recently spoke of his fear that Sanders is a secret communist who might execute him in Central Park—but the fact is most rank-and-file Democrats like Sanders just fine. Indeed, the Morning Consult poll found that his favorability rating among that group is 74 percent—the highest of any of the candidates, even better than Biden.”

Put in a historical context, Cooper argues that Sanders’ brand of politics and his economic vision is not unique in the American tradition—it just hasn’t been seen in over four decades, back before the Reagan revolution that decimated the nation’s working class and ushered in an era of corporate dominance of both major parties alongside soaring economic inequality, steady wage stagnation, and an erosion of working-class power.

Like Weisbrot, Cooper says Sanders is not “some loopy extremist,” but rather a pragmatic policymaker who has successfully navigated government office at the local, state, and federal level for decades while remaining true to his progressive values.

“While he has always held uncompromising egalitarian views,” Cooper argues, Sanders “is a savvy legislative tactician who has negotiated dozens of compromises through Congress over the years, from community health center funding in ObamaCare to a bipartisan bill to end support for the Saudi war in Yemen. Sanders has been widely covered by the media since 2016, and most Democrats plainly like what he is saying.”

And as Weisbrot wrote:

He has a 40-year track record as a politician. The things he is saying now are mostly what he has shouted from the mountain tops for pretty much the whole time. The main difference is that now, other Democratic politicians have joined him: on a $15 minimum wage, student-debt relief, free tuition at public universities, expanding Social Security, reducing income inequality, and some even on Medicare for All.

His actions speak even more consistently than his words: he understands that politics is about compromise. He fights hard for what he has promised to voters, but then takes the best deal he can win if it will advance the ball down the field, and prepares to fight again the next day.

That’s why he supported Obamacare when it was the best deal on the table—expanding insurance coverage to 20 million Americans, without the life-threatening exclusions for “pre-existing conditions.” This despite the fact that Obamacare was still quite a distance from Medicare for All—”health care as a human right”—that had been his passion and signature issue for decades.

Of course, even as Sanders is positioned nicely in the primaries and continues to poll well in hypothetical head-to-head contests with Trump, there’s no guarantee he will win in November. According to Cooper:

A Sanders nomination would be a risk to be sure, but so would nominating anybody else. Trump really might win no matter who is nominated. Biden has tons of baggage and is plainly terrible at campaigning. Mike Bloomberg has even more baggage. Buttigieg has no experience. Klobuchar is infamous for abusing her staff. And even while both the corporate media and the right-wing agitprop machine attack Sanders as a deranged socialist, he still polls well ahead of Trump in general election match-ups — within 1 point of Biden and ahead of everyone else. And let’s not forget that in the most recent election, the moderate candidate lost to the biggest buffoon in the history of presidential politics.

That inherent risk aside, Cooper judges that the energized movement Sanders is building is the most powerful weapon to march into the general election battle against Trump. “In a crisis, gritty determination and commitment are surely more useful than timid hesitation,” wrote Cooper.

“Who knows what dirty tricks the Trump campaign might try, or how inscrutable swing voters might react?” concluded Cooper. “Best to just go with a clearly good candidate and gear up for an all-out general election effort.”

On Tuesday, just ahead of the victory in New Hampshire, Sanders’ national press secretary Briahna Joy Gray put out a new video explaining why the campaign’s vision for a “big tent” coalition in this year’s election is not about sacrificing shared values in order to accomodate the “lowest common denominator,” but is instead focused on bringing a coalition together by “backing policies that are so helpful to such huge numbers of struggling people that folks from across the political divide see their differences as less important than the values which unite us.”

The ethos of the campaign, concluded Gray, is “about understanding how many of our needs are overlapping, and using those commonalities as the basis of a movement that can be powerful enough to defeat the strongest enemy.”

Political correspondent John Nichols, in his latest campaign trail dispatch for The Nation, wrote Wednesday morning that with victories in Iowa and New Hampshire under their belt, the Sanders campaign must now “go beyond ‘Bernie Beats Trump’ sloganeering and deliver a comprehensive and convincing argument that the senator is the most electable contender.” According to Nichols, the campaign and its supporters are quite capable of delivering on that challenge. He writes:

Instead of building his campaign around appeals to a dwindling universe of “swing” voters, Sanders is talking about building the electorate out to include new voters—many of them young, many of them from low-income and historically disenfranchised communities. In Iowa and New Hampshire, he has been successful in attracting young voters. He also had notable success mobilizing Latino voters and diverse immigrant communities in Iowa. In the upcoming Nevada caucuses and the South Carolina primary, he’ll have to keep proving himself.

Actor and author John Cusack, who campaigned for Sanders in New Hampshire, argues that the candidate and his supporters must now amplify the message that his ideas represent the new mainstream. “The ‘center’ has moved to Bernie on policy,” says Cusack, who notes that all the candidates are discussing ideas that were popularized by Sanders in 2016.

That doesn’t involve abandoning positions or principles, as presidential contenders frequently do when they gain traction. Rather, Sanders must define his campaign as a new center where Democrats, independents, and millions of new voters have a place—in much the way that Franklin Delano Roosevelt did as he crafted a sprawling “New Deal Coalition” that reached across what had been lines of division to welcome the great mass of Americans who wanted a new politics.

Despite the familiar consternation and hand-wringing by corporate media pundits, Nichols points out that “while almost half of voters [in exit polls] said Sanders was ‘too liberal,’ overwhelming majorities of those same voters embraced the issues most closely identified with his campaign.” What can’t be denied, according to Nichols, is that Sanders is looking extremely good coming out of the Granite State and looking forward to Nevada, South Carolina, and Super Tuesday in the coming weeks:

With the corporate media not likely to do Sanders any favors, opined Nichols, the campaign is going to have to do most of that messaging to voters itself. “Clearly, Sanders can make a credible argument for himself as an electable candidate,” added Nichols. “But he will have to sharpen that message going forward.”

While the challenge of winning over increasing numbers of voters is the essence of any campaign, it was David Plouffe, former chief strategist for former President Barack Obama, who made it clear during comments on MSNBC following the New Hampshire results Tuesday night that out of all the 2020 Democrats still in the running, “you’d still rather be Bernie Sanders than anybody else.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Clive

    I wish I could in truth spare some positive and inspiring words to leave the reader with cause for optimism. But when you read sentences like:

    For many voters, however, especially those who gain their political insights from cable news in the evenings…

    I’m reminded that, with supposed friends like Ryan Cooper, Sanders has no need of enemies. It is this kind of — I’ll be generous and label it as “unconscious” — disparaging of precisely the people who the left needs to win round which has systematically destroyed liberalism (used in the US sense of the word) the world over. It is perhaps unsurprising that, with commentators such as Cooper locking themselves away in their own echo chambers, the priority has become improving the sound insulation of the said echo chambers rather than responding to the counterpoints of those outside them who might, potentially, be convincible about Sanders merits, but are certainly not about to be convinced by people who label them as blinkered mass-media consuming dullards who are simply too thick to appreciate the obvious wisdom which is being handed down to them.

    Message discipline is essential. But I’m guessing it’ll be hard to discipline the likes of the Ryan Coopers, amongst many others on the US left opinion-o-sphere, who are all too accustomed to being rather too fond of the sounds of their own voices to ever stop to think how others outside their groupthink may perceive them.

    Cable news! Of all the deplorability. The horror! The horror!

    1. Oxley Creek Boy

      This seems over-sensitive to me. If criticizing cable news is tantamount to calling its watchers stupid, how is one meant to push back on the content of said cable news (which often is pretty damn stupid). That being said, the left opinion-o-sphere has provoked a lot of Bernie-hate among the MSNBC/CNN-watching liberal classes over the last 4 years, so if anyone’s primed to come down in a high dudgeon over things like this it’s them. Is there a fix for that through better messaging, seems doubtful ?

    2. norm de plume

      I think that’s a bit tough. It’s not clear Cooper is inferring the consumers of cable news are dullards; just that they consume cable news in the absence of anything usefully different on the mainstream horizon, certainly nothing obvious that would help them achieve a rounded world view, and that tends to encourage a warped, establishment-friendly mindset that inhibits their ability to see what’s in their own interests. It’a hardly their fault.

      I have seen up close in my own extended family this syndrome in all its awful, but often comic glory. It is becoming unnervingly common. One pair are British, and of the Brexit demographic. So Daily Mail rather than cable news – same diff. The mention of the word Corbyn literally brought on paroxysms. ‘He is evil! He should be in JAIL!’

      I didn’t argue or even demur. Only a change in the Daily Mail editorial policy, in line with a tacking establishment, could change those minds.

      So while it is sound political practice not to draw attention to this elephant, this great wide swath of us who know only what we are told by people who will not tell us the truth, it isn’t useful to pretend it doesn’t exist. To me, the irrationality and impulsiveness of a critical mass of a less than optimally informed and indeed manipulated populace are as dangerous as the forces manipulating it. Caitlin Johnstone talks about ‘narrative management’, Chomsky of ‘manufacturing consent’ – whatever you call it, dismantling it is a high priority, ‘going forward’.

      This is my only exposure to Cooper but I thought he made some good points.

      1. Clive

        If it was just blaming the media, which is “merely” being guilty of a lazy argument, I’d let it go at that.

        But this is intellectual snobbery. What Cooper is saying is that here he is, sophisticated thinker of great thoughts that he must be, occupying the high plains of reasoning and thus able to discern the propaganda or, as a minimum, crude and lacking-in-finesse stupidity of cable news reporting. From his self-appointed position on the exalted viewing platform of media observance he can see the lower orders below him who are, inevitably, lacking as they do his powers of analysis, completely unable to differentiate this “bad” reporting from his, one assumes “good” reporting and held, unshakeably and permanently, in MSNBC’s (or the Daily Mail’s) vice-like thrall.

        Which is of course complete and utter bollocks.

        If Cooper is so clever, I’m unsure how it has escaped his attention the the left isn’t the inhabitants of the White House (or Downing St, or wherever the Australian Prime Minister lives etc.) and, to reverse this situation, the other guy needs to get more votes in the right places than the incumbents got.

        Or, in a sketch:

        Clive: “can I tempt you to buy one of my delicious cakes?”
        Potential Purchaser: “hmm… so you say, I might be persuaded, but you’ll have to convince me, they look a little misshapen to me…”
        Clive: “oh, f-off, you moron”
        Potential Purchaser: “alright, if that’s your attitude I will, I’ll go down the street to Trumps Tasty Tarts.”

        Some of these votes must come, inescapably, from the hands of those who are clutching the TV remote having just switched to cable news shows. Cooper offers nothing as to how these voters will be persuaded to change their minds. He offers nothing because, apparently, those voters are unworthy of casting their votes for the beatifically serene left-wing candidates.

        Again — and haven’t we been through enough of this already? (and, answering my own question, “obviously not”) — does the left want to carry on losing because it won’t take the votes of those sorts of people?

        1. flora

          Great comment. Thanks.

          I think of Joe Biden telling people to vote for someone else instead of simply answering their questions. It seems like the underlying idea is: Dem voters should have blind faith in Dem pols – no questions allowed.

        2. sharonsj

          Oh, yes, we can blame the media. I was a cable news junkie for years. I’m not sure what finally woke me up, but I realized there was no news on the news. It was 90% opinion and filled with pundits who didn’t actually know what they were talking about. Okay, I just remembered one thing that made me want to put my foot through the TV screen. Steve Rattner repeated the Republican claim that the Keystone XL Pipeline would create 20,000 jobs. I knew from my research that was an absolute lie. Nobody on the panel nor the host corrected him. When I know more than these highly paid propagandists, it’s time to change the channel–or fire them all.

        3. ChrisPacific

          ‘Cable news’ was perhaps a poor choice of phrase, but I don’t think you can get around the fact that lots of people in America especially believe stuff that isn’t true, and they believe it because they have been systematically lied to over decades. That isn’t their fault, and in fact more and more of them are starting to figure out that something about what they’ve been taught is off, but when it’s been part of the fabric and belief structure of society for as long as you’ve been alive, it’s hard to shake it off just like that. Matthews may well be sincere in his fear that Bernie will execute him if he wins, because Americans are constantly told that socialism is just communism by another name. Even if he isn’t, a significant percentage of the American population probably do believe that, or something like it.

          The solution is to turn a critical eye on your assumptions, look at evidence, and ask yourself whether they stand up to analysis. This is not something that only stupid people should do – it’s good advice for all of us, and learning how to do this is arguably a big part of the mission of NC. In most cases it’s a process we’ve had to go through ourselves.

          This will be particularly important if Sanders happens to win, in which case there will be a significant percentage of society that is genuinely terrified of what might happen next – in no small part because a hysterical subset of the media will be telling them exactly that. We saw the same thing with Trump when he was elected. Pointing out that Sanders has much more in common with FDR, Truman or Eisenhower than with Stalin would seem like a good antidote to this kind of thing (i.e., what is now tarred as ‘socialism’ is in fact very similar to traditional mid-20th century American politics).

          Yes, there is a fine line between telling people they are wrong and that they are stupid (possibly Cooper crossed it, if your reaction is indicative) but the former is still necessary in order to make progress, at least if you are dealing with someone who thinks firing squads will immediately follow a Sanders victory.

          1. Dan

            Matthews may well be sincere in his fear that Bernie will execute him if he wins, because Americans are constantly told that socialism is just communism by another name.

            Do you honestly believe that? I mean, come on. Matthews is intentionally spreading nonsense he knows is false because he’s been made obscenely rich by the neoliberal establishment Sanders threatens. This is vile self-interest posing as fear in the interest of the masses.

            Even if he isn’t, a significant percentage of the American population probably do believe that, or something like it.

            Given the “journalism” of a Chris Matthews, it’s understandable why many believe that.

    3. Joe Well

      Clive, maybe you are just aren’t watching CNN and MSNBC, but they have been outright propoaganda machines to manufacture momentum for Bernie alternatives since early 2019, whether the hotness was Beto O’Rourke, Kamila Harris, Warren, Buttigieg, amd now Klobuchar. Notice that Yang and Gabbard are not on that list. They have frequently presented a slanted storyline, regarding Sanders, like with the CNN-Warren collusion.

      It is not insulting those viewers to say they are being influenced by propaganda. For instance, I talked to one 60yo who had never heard that Bernie was leading among Latinos. Our only hope is that the propaganda goes too far, and, like in Communism, people realize it is propaganda.

      1. Clive

        Yes, we are bombarded by messaging. And yes, some of that is misinformation, often deliberate. And yes, some voters self-select their sources of news and current affairs. And yes, “we” may think they would be better served by casting their nets wider than they do.

        This aim will not be achieved by denigrating such voters. Nor will it be achieved by blaming the media. It is what it is. It has been what it is since, oh, I don’t know, the dawn of time, probably. If the left can’t come up with simple, convincing, snappy and popular hooks to lure in votes it is currently missing out on, it won’t get anywhere. It will similarly not get anywhere retreating into its own self referential bubbles.

        Politics is a fractious, tough and gruesome game, there are no holds barred and a thick skin is essential. Now more than at any time I can remember. Shoving potentially convertible voters into exile may make the left’s supporters’ lives easier but it won’t help the left. The number of journalists on the left who block on Twitter any account which dares to post dissenting comments is unbelievable. I’ve no objection to people who use social media as everyday communications and just want to share cat pictures or whatever rom taking steps to isolate themselves from unpleasant people. They should not have to put up with trolling. But media professionals have to be prepared to take their lumps. Or take up something more restful, like knitting, perhaps.

        In the U.K. (US readers will have to forgive my lack of knowledge about the situation there) the sight of left or centrist commentators like Matthew Parris either flouncing off from Twitter because people said nasty things about his writing or Ian Dunt’s descent into what now reads like a parody account having cut himself off from any naysayers merely looks like petulance.

        As does Cooper’s categorisation of cable news into some sort of, to steal from The Handmaid’s Tale, un-media.

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          sorry, but the owners of the media megacorps that profit from CNN, MSNBC, and FOX are doing as those in power have always done: exploiting it to serve their ends. maybe you think the US notion of a Fourth Estate is quaint but what we have now is infotainment—really.

          1. flora

            After the US Civil War, reconstruction in the South had 20 good years for black Americans. The poor black and white farmers realized they shared a common oppressor in the banks and company stores and crop men, and began to join forces in a ‘peoples party’ to fight back against their economic exploitation by the banks, railroads, and company stores. The pols in DC called it populism, and populism was derided as bad. The GOP and Dems worked together to shut down the peoples party and drive black and white farmers apart because the peoples party was taking votes from the D/R duopoly, and challenging the economic system of monopoly power.

            So, what does this look back have to do with today’s left-ish commentators on TV tut-tutting about the other side’s voters in the duopoly. I suggest the D/R duopoly is still working to keep the voters, who have common economic interests, divided by social issues, or by re-enforcing negative stereotypes about those people. my 2 cents.

        2. inode_buddha

          I would argue that more than “some” of it is misinformation. Nearly *all* of it is designed to deceive. Doesn’t matter which channel you choose. I routinely see TV hosts take a small innocent fact out of context and use it to construct a giant system of absolute falsehoods which then get propagated as if fact.

    4. Cuibono

      Reading the linked Coppr article I have a hard time understanding precisley what you are seeing to suggest that the cenral theme of his message is to disparage cable nws viewers. Fact is, unless one can get a sense of the world from something other than what one learns from the MSM, it is likely nigh on impossible to get folks to open up their hearts to better possibilities. The fact tht Sanders is as popular as he is tells you his message must be really catchy.

  2. sporble

    Nice piece. A couple bits are duplicated, though – maybe you could remove them, Jerry-Lynn (or someone else)?

    Towards the beginning, the 2 paragraphs beginning “For many voters… ” & “It can be hard to see this,” appear twice in a row.

    Then lower down, 5 more paragraphs appear twice: The first one starts with “Of course, even as Sanders”
    and the last one starts with “On Tuesday, just ahead of the victory”.

  3. jackiebass

    Presently the DNC is controlled by Clinton democrats. They can’t stand the thought that Bernie might actually win the nomination. I would mean the beginning of the end of their control of the democrat party. The so called liberal news really isn’t liberal but More Clinton like. I watch BBC America. They are usually sort of fair. They usually allow opposing views on an issue. When they talked about the NH results they said that there were two winners who got the same number of votes. Unless things changed. I Think Bernie won by around 4%. In an election that margin is almost a landslide. Iowa was an example of the length that the DNC will go to in order to see that Bernie doesn’t win the nomination. Now in NV you have a union leader opposing Bernies universal health plan. As a union member I would personally work to get rid of a leader like this. He is looking out for himself, not his members. I believe all of the anti Bernie propaganda originates from the DNC. Unless the DNC leadership changes the democratic party will be just another version of the Republican Party.

  4. Mikerw0

    If this is really a “movement” and he is broadening his appeal why did his raw vote total in NH fall by 50% and total participation was up by 18%?

    I don’t buy the he did well in rural area vs. urban argument. Students are in the urban areas. If he is going to form a winning coalition he needs to outperform 2016 and have clear majorities, not pluralities.

    Something isn’t right.

    1. tegnost

      This has been gone over multiple times. More candidates, and fewer anti hillary votes from disinterested rabble rousing repubs, and student voting restrictions. That talking point gets zero points

    2. Laughingsong

      Maybe I missed something in the article….just waking up and all… but the divide they called out wasn’t urban/rural but rather richer/poorer towns. When it comes to class divides I think it’s pretty clear where Bernie is. Historically the PTB have been excellent at getting poorer people to vote against their interests, but after years of having no candidate express their interests I think it’s harder to hide or deride one who does.

      Clive has a point, while I didn’t read Cooper as deriding the cable news watchers (I felt he was dissing the cable news presenters instead) it can be read that way. This is a fine line that will have to be walked though, because the MSM’s crap will have to be called out, somehow without implicating the viewers themselves.

    3. Bill Carson

      After 2016, NH changed the rules to make it harder for college students to vote.

      Also—and this cannot be understated—nearly all of the other candidates are offering similar alternatives to the ones Bernie proposed in 2016. Upon closer inspection, many of those alternatives are not nearly as good as Bernie’s, but they market them in a deceptive way that makes them sound the same.

      1. Clive

        Yes, you expressed it far better and far more succinctly that I did. Stupid media running stupid stories assuming viewers are stupid is valid grounds for heaping as much criticism as can be mustered onto it.

        Or, even, looking at such media and working out the appeal (and there is often some appeal and even some merit in some of the arguments heard in such places as MSNBC). You can’t overcome what you don’t understand.

        But never blaming the viewership or readership, calling them ignorant or, even, throwaway unthinking rebukes like reducing them to “those people”.

  5. Joe Well

    If you canvassed for Sanders in NH, the voter survey asked voters to choose their number one issue.

    Maybe they actually used that data to set messaging priorities? And voters only recently started saying their number one priority was “Beat Trump?”

    1. KiWeTO

      Bernie’s message of positive change for all would have been more effective than Hillary’s message of status quo back in 2016.

      Back then, the electorate was looking for change. They did not really care who was directing the change. When the perceived pain of change is less than the perceived pain of remaining the same, the decision to change is made. Bernie’s change versus Trump’s change in 2016 would have been a battle for the future back in 2016. Sadly, that did not occur, and we had a battle between Hillary’s “more of the same” vs Trump’s change. As the Chinese trump-apparel makers knew ahead in terms of their sales, red “MAGA” change sold much better.

      Voters buy(vote) hope for their better future. “More of the same” works when the going is good. Not when everyone in a society has been reduced by special interests’ divide and conquer and the Masses dealing with crab bucket syndrome.

      The situation is now reversed. The many who have felt that their lives/reality have deteriorated under Trump would now be receptive to Bernie’s proposal for change come November. If his message of positive change wins on SuperTuesday, then, that has to be the way to beat Trump at his own game.

  6. Barry Fay

    Sad to see so much of the usually great commentary taken up by one person´s misreading of the text – and a part of the text that was hardly crucial. He then used that misinterpretation to launch into a mini-philippic attacking the author. Oh well….Go Bernie!

    1. Laughingsong

      It’s only misreading if one disagrees :-). As I said above, I didn’t get the same thing that Clive did out of the article but I can see how he got to his thesis. For me this is the strength of this blog’s comments section. Through Clive I was able to see something different that I would not have seen. He may not have convinced me to read it that way but it’s a hugely good thing to show that it could be read that way and that the voters we want to persuade might too. How is hashing that out a bad thing? It’s not disinformation it’s perspective.

    2. Clive

      I hate to have to say it — and I’m saying it because the stakes are so high — that this is why, at the rate things are going, Sanders will lose. To win, Sanders needs to break out of his fan base. To break out of his fan base, he needs to show wide appeal. This was the point of the very perceptive post.

      But some of Sanders most vociferous, dedicated and earnest supporters are, through their unceasing but cavalier evangelising, unwittingly driving away the very voters he needs.

      Just because Sanders is a superior candidate, and one happens to recognise that fact, then one goes on to state that one has indeed had the foresight to have recognised it, does not make a person themselves superior. Yet the superiority complexes I’ve observed in a fair few Sanders supporters rightly belong in the Smithsonian.

      1. norm de plume

        Superiority complexes among political acolytes, particularly those in the ascendancy, are not uncommon; indeed they come with the territory. In a sense, these people are dittoheads like the Limbaugh lovers they deride. However, it is drawing a very long bow to assume that evidence of such triumphalism could lose Sanders the nomination or the presidential vote (and how would such ‘evidence’ be breathlessly conveyed to the gullible masses? Why, the corporate media of course). I think there are far greater threats, more or less sinister, hiding in plain sight, and the almost total corruption of mass media narratives is prime among them.

        I can’t see any value in evangelising for a global ‘Keep Mum’ campaign among progressives… ‘sshhh, don’t frighten the horses’. It would be a form of political correctness, even of quietude really. It could I think plausibly be argued that it would be more beneficial to consciously sharpen criticism of media, to make its poisonous role more central to the cause, to shame people who hold dangerous opinions (calling them wrong rather than stupid, as per a sensible suggestion above) and clearly identify the sources of those beliefs. Thus making a nexus which permits a wider understanding that the elite-friendly memes many people spout unthinkingly are not sui generis from each of those minds, but the result of a long, carefully planned and well funded campaign to create a politically neutered majority in the interests of the 1%.

        Most people it seems to me still believe that they get real news from the media. Many of us are aware that this is not the case. This doesn’t make us better, but it does, at least on this topic, make us more informed. If this was an issue that didn’t matter, who would care, but politics is existential and so it is not just sensible, but I would argue essential to broaden into normalcy the idea that the media is a tool of the nation’s owners, not a transparent window for the flow of information. To try, however blunderingly, to embed a ‘buyer beware’ filter in the minds of people who might otherwise eat propaganda without realising it.

        If everyone is walking around on eggshells trying not to offend our less well-informed brethren, how the hell are they going to find out that they’ve been had? The notion needs to be placed in front of them forcefully enough for them to notice, to actually consider the medium they’ve absorbed messages from for years. At Xmas as the bushfires raged, my wife and daughter having just escaped East Gippsland, other rellos on the beach at Potato Point in midday darkness, my very polite but occasionally forceful mother berated one of my brothers, the most intellectually accomplished of the 5 of us with a Bachelors majoring in History and Philosophy of Science and an MBA. He had long tut-tutted climate change science, knowingly referring to competitive, grant-hungry scientists and the misuse of models. Mum said, in front of everyone at the dinner table ‘You have been brainwashed’, the accusation he had been implicitly making about us for a decade. Shock, silence, murmurs, eventual recovery of balance and most importantly, since then, a severe ratcheting down of the rhetoric from the brother, a chastened attitude indicative of tacit admission if not open confession.

        The point is, he changed only after being confronted. Unpleasant, but necessary.

        We are in an ongoing War Against Bullshit that long predates Trump and Sanders and the palpable, growing uncertainty of a decent future means more and more of the people who might in say the Bush years have blithely ingested cable news lies are now more open to alternative ideas. Sure, don’t openly abuse them, but don’t tiptoe around them either.

        I think the candidate himself provides the lead here: forceful and committed but respectful and polite.

        1. Cuibono

          “Most people it seems to me still believe that they get real news from the media. Many of us are aware that this is not the case. This doesn’t make us better, but it does, at least on this topic, make us more informed. If this was an issue that didn’t matter, who would care, but politics is existential and so it is not just sensible, but I would argue essential to broaden into normalcy the idea that the media is a tool of the nation’s owners, not a transparent window for the flow of information. To try, however blunderingly, to embed a ‘buyer beware’ filter in the minds of people who might otherwise eat propaganda without realising it.”


  7. Donna

    Even if the Bernie team implements the concepts suggested by John Nichols, it will be meaningless if Alex Padilla, the California Secretary of State, rigged the election. This is my latest concern and I have no idea how we stop this. Regardless of political persuasion, we should all be concerned about this. It’s happening in North Carolina. Yes, I will vote but I really will not know for sure how that vote gets counted.

  8. voislav

    People are overthinking this. Sanders is in an advantageous position right now. It’s uncanny how the 2016 Trump scenario is repeating all over again, this time on the Democratic side.

    Bernie has done well in the early states, unlike his principal rivals until now, Biden and Warren. He has wide base of support and ground operations in every state unlike his current rivals, Buttigieg and Klobuchar. Buttgieg and Klobuchar made a large bet on the early states that has payed off. But these are also small states that they had two or three months to focus their campaigns on, including a lot of face-to-face with the voters. They are not going to be able to replicate that going forward. They are scrambling to patch together their operations in Nevada and South Carolina, and more importantly Super Tuesday states. Large number and size of the upcoming states means that they will have to rely on media more, which requires money.

    This is the key advantage for Bernie. He just raised in January more than other candidates have raised in Q4 of 2019. As Bloomberg has shown, money is the key to building wide national support and Bernie has more funding going into Super Tuesday than his rivals, who will struggle to get the same name recognition they got in Iowa and New Hampshire.

    Bernie pretty much got the best case scenario. Instead of Biden knocking some of the moderates out of the race, now there are 4 of them (Biden, Bloomberg, Buttigieg and Klobuchar) plus Warren certain to stick around until Super Tuesday to split the votes.

  9. Bugs Bunny

    What happens if Sanders gets the nomination? Is the DNC obliged to work for him and finance things like travel, advertising, etc.?

    This isn’t an assignment, I couldn’t find the info anywhere.

    1. inode_buddha

      As far as I know, no. The DNC is under no obligation. That hasn’t stopped other politicians in the past, from using it as a personal vehicle via backroom deals. Clinton comes to mind.

    2. Dan

      This may be a clue to how things unfold:

      Sanders in talks with DNC to headline big-dollar fundraiser

      Bernie Sanders is in talks with the Democratic National Committee to headline the first of two party fundraisers, where he will likely appear before the same big-dollar donors that he has repeatedly railed against on the campaign trail.

      A DNC official confirmed the conversations on Wednesday. They come as Sanders’ relationship with the party’s establishment takes on greater importance following a victory in Tuesday’s New Hampshire presidential primary and an essential tie for first place last week in Iowa’s caucuses.

      Raising money for the party will be an especially urgent task in 2020. Whoever wins the primary will inherit a party that is $6.5 million in debt and has been outraised by over 6 to 1 by President Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee, who collectively pulled in more than $600 million last year alone.

      As a condition of gaining access to the party’s voter file, all 2020 contenders — Sanders included — are required to headline at least two fundraisers for the DNC’s “Unity Fund,” which will go to the eventual nominee.

      As the headliner at one of their events, he will not only be courting big-dollar donors he has criticized, but he will also be doing so to raise money for an organization that he and his supporters have called corrupt.

      Under campaign finance rules, a single donor attending a DNC event can cut a check exceeding $300,000.

  10. Jim Matranga

    A little late to this one, sorry.

    Sounds like Bernie needs to get back on Fox news and get the crowd there to cheer him again like he did the first time.

Comments are closed.