Sanders, Socialism, and the Media

21/04/2019

Bernie Sanders, one of the most popular presidential candidates in the US, has come under fire by most mainstream (and likely all conservative) media outlets. The New York Times is one of the interesting ones, as many people look to them as the peak of ‘leftist’ media. The problem with that is that they are only ‘left’ if you believe the likes of Obama and Clinton are ‘left’. Just like in 2016, Sanders faces an uphill battle against the DNC establishment.

Socialist millionaire. Do we really need another old white guy running the show? He’s dividing the Democrats, which will undoubtedly cause Trump to win again. He’s one of the 1% he keeps talking about.

Those are a few of the accusations and complaints made about Sanders – specifically from the New York Times. You don’t even need to waste time with the Murdoch press to find mainstream opinion being manufactured against Bernie and his campaign. But I fear any who give any of those criticisms more than a passing thought are the sort of people who, again, consider the Democrats ‘left’. Another assumption that can be made is that many of the people who call him socialist – as he himself even does – actually don’t understand the different variations of socialism.

The simple difference between what Sanders – and many others, including the Greens here in Australia who suffer similar misconceptions from the public – says and true socialism is that he is not calling for the abolition of capitalism. The term social democrat is more accurate for people like him and AOC, as well as many of the Scandinavian ‘socialist’ countries. Basically, they are still capitalist, not socialist, but believe in a system where basic things like healthcare, education, etc. should be accessible to all, and that people should play an active role in their democracy. The Australian Labor Party, along with the Union movement (especially in the Whitlam and Hawke-Keating years), were advocates of social democratic ideas.

But can you advocate for those kinds of policies while being a millionaire? Short answer: yes. Is Sanders part of the 1% because he’s a millionaire? Absolutely not. The 1% are the billionaires and multinational corporations, not simple millionaires.

Sanders has now become a millionaire mostly due to his book sales last year, and the release of his tax returns proves that. So him reaching that level of wealth has absolutely no bearing on his political stances, which have been nothing but consistent for decades. In an opinion piece (word to keep in mind being opinion) for the NYT, Paul Krugman said:

“Politicians who support policies that would raise their own taxes and strengthen a social safety net they’re unlikely to need aren’t being hypocrites; if anything, they’re demonstrating their civic virtue.”

Trying to defame him for his millionaire status has only made his dedication all the more praiseworthy.

What about the white guy problem? Any rational person would not give a shit whether he was black or white, male or female – it is 100% about policy. Would a female POTUS be good? Sure, but put someone like Clinton up with her gender being her only defining attribute and you’re going to lose. Sanders’ had a message that resonated with people, and in a similar way people like AOC and Omar have gained grassroots followings. So long as the candidate you support has worthwhile policies, nothing about their identity matters.

And the final criticism – that Sanders ruined the election for Clinton in 2016, and will do so again this time around – is absolute nonsense for multiple reasons. Let’s list them, shall we?

  • Bernie had a message that people could relate to, unlike Clinton who merely offered a continuation of the Obama years – mild progress with much behind-the-scenes shadiness.
  • The DNC primaries were intentionally rigged – indirectly, at least – for Clinton to win – the establishment tried their hardest to smother Sanders from the race, and arguably failed in the end.
  • Despite the above, Sanders, after he conceded, ran in full support of Clinton in opposition to the now inevitable Trump presidency. Any Sanders voters who refused to vote Hillary, or actually voted Trump in protest, are absolute morons. That is not the fault of Sanders, however.
  • Clinton ran such a shit campaign that even if Sanders was not there to ‘ruin’ the day, she likely would have lost. The money and media exposure that permeates from every source is to blame for the rise of Trump, not a man who actively campaigned against him.

It is not even 2020 yet and already my bet is on a second Trump term – if Sanders, or a similarly progressive candidate, is not chosen by the DNC. If the same games are played as in 2016, then the Democrats are in for another shock. The media has a huge role to play in this, and they are not on the side of democracy.

So next time you see an article about Sanders in relation to socialism, his millionaire status, or the fact that he’s white, treat it sceptically. Especially if it’s from the ‘left’.

 

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