(Unless It’s Bernie Sanders)
It was always obvious that Bernie Sanders was going to have an uphill battle to overcome the Democratic establishment and mainstream establishment media to become the Democrat nominee because his policies are a threat to them.
A year ago the NYT reported: “The matter of What To Do About Bernie and the larger imperative of party unity has, for example, hovered over a series of previously undisclosed Democratic dinners in New York and Washington organized by the longtime party financier Bernard Schwartz. The gatherings have included scores from the moderate or center-left wing of the party, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California; Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader; former Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia; Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., himself a presidential candidate; and the president of the Center for American Progress, Neera Tanden.”
It looks like some people have been concerned about Bernie for some time.
Over the course of the last year (and even earlier), there have been plenty of examples of the mainstream establishment media—from the Washington Post and the New York Times to CNN and MSNBC–either ignoring Sanders or demonstrating their bias against him. There was even a study done last Fall about how he was treated by MSNBC. The study found that he was the least mentioned of all the candidates, the least mentioned positively, and the most mentioned negatively.
See this article which provides an overview of the situation at that time:
The bias was so obvious that the Onion did a mock article titled, “MSNBC Poll Finds Support For Bernie Sanders Has Plummeted 2 Points Up.”
As Sanders became the front-runner and won the popular vote in Iowa and NH, the mainstream media’s assault on him became more pronounced. After he had a big win in NV they began to go off the rails.
Chris Matthews expressed concern about being shot in the park by socialists and compared Sanders’ win in NV to the German takeover of France in WWII, Chuck Todd read a tweet comparing Sanders supporters to Nazi Brown Shirts, James Carville was all over MSNBC warning against the Sanders “cult,” MSNBC contributor Dr. Jason Johnson claimed that “racist white liberals” supported Sanders… and he attacked the women of color who worked for Sanders by saying, “I don’t care how many people from the island of misfit black girls you throw out there to defend you,” CNN ran a commentary titled, “Can Either Coronavirus or Bernie Sanders Be Stopped?” and so on and on.
For some of these and other examples, see:
Then there was the story–also from the NYT–that “Dozens of interviews with Democratic establishment leaders this week show that they are not just worried about Mr. Sanders’s candidacy, but are also willing to risk intraparty damage to stop his nomination at the national convention in July if they get the chance.”
These establishment Democrat super-delegates were willing to break the party to stop him.
And all during this time and earlier Hillary Clinton was bashing Sanders every few days as she promoted her new documentary.
So going into SC both the mainstream media and establishment Democrats were freaking out about Sanders who was polling so well going into Super Tuesday (just a few days after the SC primary) that it was looking inevitable that Sanders would either end up with a majority or a plurality of delegates when he got to the convention.
South Carolina was up first, though, and Sanders wasn’t expected to win there, just like he wasn’t expected to win some other southern states on Super Tuesday (which Democrat might do well in SC and many of these other southern states during the primaries is almost irrelevant to who might beat Trump considering no Democratic candidate is likely to win them in the general election).
Just as expected, Joe Biden won and Bernie Sanders came in second in SC, but it appeared it was going to be a temporary bump in the road on Sanders’ way to win big on Super Tuesday.
Then it appears some phone calls were made, and a last ditch coordinated effort from establishment Democrats got underway to stop Sanders at the last minute.
Pete Buttigieg dropped out of the race and endorsed Joe Biden after a call from Barack Obama. Then Amy Klobuchar dropped out and did the same. After that, Beto O’Rourke came out of the woods to endorse Biden as well. Finally, Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made his endorsement of Biden.
The LA Times called it, “a blunt show of force to stop Sanders.”
Suddenly Biden had new life and it helped him rack up some unexpected victories on Super Tuesday in states like Maine, Massachusetts, and Minnesota. It also appears to have made the difference in a close race in Texas.
Sanders held on for the win in Vermont, Utah, Colorado, and California (which was the biggest prize of the night), but it appears Biden may have overtaken him in delegates overall. California is still counting, and it may end up as a close contest between Sanders and Biden after all the delegates have been awarded.
Mike Bloomberg, who mainly got into the race to stop Sanders when he thought Biden wasn’t strong enough to do it, started getting pressure to drop out and endorse Biden after his showing on Super Tuesday wasn’t as strong as Biden’s. Sure enough, that’s what he did.
Now Elizabeth Warren has dropped out of the race. It is unknown at this point if she plans to endorse anyone.
Tulsi Gabbard is still in the race for some reason. She has vowed to keep running through to the convention, but she’s polling so low that she may be almost irrelevant now.
But let’s look at the candidate the establishment finally decided to coalesce behind…
Joe Biden worked with racists against desegregation. In the 1970s he fought against busing to integrate schools, and he fought to block the government from withholding funds from schools that remained segregated.
Biden has been called the “Godfather of the War on Drugs” for advocating for a drug czar to coordinate anti-narcotics efforts among agencies, for supporting tougher policies for drug offenders, for blocking research into possible medical benefits of any controlled substance, for cosponsoring the “Comprehensive Crime Control Act” of 1984 which gave law enforcement the ability to cease money and property of drug offenders without being charged with a crime.
He was the architect of the 1994 “Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act” which lead to more prisons, expansion of the federal government’s use of the death penalty, an escalation of the “war on drugs,” mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offenses, and mass incarceration which disproportionally affected brown and black Americans.
In 1986 he helped write the “Anti-Drug Abuse Act” that changed the law so that possession of 5 grams of crack was considered equal to 500 grams of cocaine which also disproportionally harmed African American communities at the time.
In 1991 Biden blocked supporting witnesses for Anita Hill which helped put Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court.
In 2005 Biden supported the “Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Customer Protection Act” which stripped millions from bankruptcy protection right before the recession and made it impossible to discharge student loan debt.
Over the years he has cast key votes to deregulate the banks, supported the repeal of the law barring banks from owning securities and insurance businesses, and became known as the Senator from MBNA (a bank holding company which was later acquired by Bank of America).
Biden supported NAFTA and TPP which resulted in the loss of businesses and jobs (roughly 1 million manufacturing jobs from 200 to 2007), and lower wages for workers.
In 2002 Biden was an early supporter of the Iraq War. He helped push it, sell it, and defended it afterwards. The war cost trillions and killed hundreds of thousands. Now he has tried to rewrite the history of his support.
Biden has a long history of attempting to work with Republicans to cut Social Security to balance the budget.
And Biden has a long history of fabricating lies about his past….
When he first ran for president in 1987 he plagiarized from 4 speeches, lied about his ranking at Syracuse Law School (where he had been kicked out for plagiarizing 5 pages in an essay), lied about his academic awards and scholarships, and lied about his opposition to the Vietnam War.
He also created a completely false narrative about his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. He claimed he marched, engaged in sit-ins, attended protests, participated in voter registration drives, and organized civil rights boycotts.
There is little evidence he did any of these things. After he was caught, he admitted he was “not an activist” and was “not out marching.” He said he was “getting dramatic lessons about segregation and civil rights from newspapers and television.”
Nevertheless he has continued to occasionally bring up parts of this false narrative at various times over the years.
His most recent fabrication is a story he told in February this year about how he was arrested trying to see Nelson Mandela when he was in prison 30 years ago, and how, years later, after Mandela was released and visited him at the White House, Mandela threw his arms around him to thank him for the effort he made.
This was quickly exposed as a total fabrication.
Obama didn’t pick Biden as his running mate because of anything to do with anything he did for civil rights. He picked him to sooth concerns of white voters.
Considering his history of policies that adversely impacted the black community over the years and his continuing attempts to take false credit regarding his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement (which should be insulting to anyone who was involved), it’s amazing to me he has the level of support he does among that same community.
So aside from his very non-progressive policies over the years, and his willingness to fabricate his past with lies, he’s a well-known gaffe machine and appears to be showing some cognitive decline.
He has recently been confused about what state he was in and what office he was running for. He recently even confused his wife with his sister.
For some more examples and commentary on this see:
Biden wasn’t a strong enough candidate earlier on to get the confidence of the establishment entirely behind him. Establishment Democrats and the establishment mainstream media kept shopping around, flirting with one candidate after another (Beto, Harris, Buttigieg, Klobuchar). And by the time people started voting Biden wasn’t doing well in the first states, his campaign wasn’t getting as much backing from his big money donors, and he was running out of both money and support. He was a dead man walking going into SC where he won the first primary he had ever won in three attempts at running for president.
By this point the establishment was so desperate to stop Sanders they were willing to put all the backing they could muster into him despite all his many issues.
They pulled out all the stops and got enough momentum going behind him with “earned media” that the majority of voters deciding at the last minute on Super Tuesday voted for him.
So he doesn’t have the kind of strong and committed base of support that Sanders has. Instead he appears to have been propped up at the last minute as the establishment’s last hope to stop Sanders.
If he is the nominee: His lack of strong and committed support is a liability, and his history is not very appealing to the progressive wing of the party which is where the energy is in this election (and which may very well result in some percentage of progressives not turning out for him in the general election).
Aside from whatever Trump may attack him on regarding his son Hunter, at least some of his problematic political history, lies, and fabrications may very well be used against him as well. But even more might be made of his ongoing gaffes and confusion.
Trump may very well be suffering from some cognitive decline as well. I’m not looking forward to watching debates between two men who are frequently confused and incoherent and may better be suited for a rest home. Nor do I think those are the traits we need for the “Leader of the Free World.”
Democrats made the mistake of running an establishment candidate against a populist last time (even though he was a faux populist), and they appear determined to make the same mistake this time with someone who isn’t as sharp.
The main argument for Biden from the establishment that many have bought into is that he is more “electable,” but polls have shown Sanders has done just as well in head-to-head match-ups against Trump. Biden’s handlers–because they know he is gaffe-prone–have tried to minimize his exposure to whatever extent they could up until now. That is going to be increasingly difficult from here on out with every new gaffe, lie, and indication of cognitive confusion to come further undermining his electablity.
And where will we be even if Biden does manage to win? Right back to the same conditions that brought us Trump in the first place. Biden’s billionaire backers–to whom he promised nothing would fundamentally change–will probably not be all that interested in expanding healthcare all that much, getting the corrupting influence of money out of politics, or taking bold enough action in time to deal with the climate crisis in time to make a difference.
Going back to the same conditions that brought us Trump (or worse) may likely result in someone even worse next time. Sowing the same seeds and expecting something different to grow from them may be a sign of insanity.
It may very well be that no one will be able to beat Trump, but it seems to me that Sanders has the best shot of not only beating him but changing the direction we’ve been headed for some time now… where politicians are bought and paid for by an oligarchy of the rich and powerful and democracy in America is only a pretense and illusion.
But first we will need to defeat a well entrenched establishment where Trump may be less a threat to them than Sanders. With so much stacked against him it may be harder for Sanders to win the nomination than beat Trump in the general election.
It will be trench warfare from here on out until the convention. Hopefully Bernie Sanders can overcome both establishment Democrats and the establishment media despite all their efforts to stop him.