With just days until the Iowa Caucus, Bernie Sanders is the clear front runner in what is still a crowded primary field. Sanders has gained a lead in the polls in key states such as Iowa, New Hampshire, and California. He also leads all candidates in the number of volunteers and small donor contributions, and it’s not even close. The Democratic Party establishment is in a panic about Sanders’ recent success. Sanders has faced an intensified attack from his opponents, yet his popularity continues to rise.
First there was the Warren campaign’s political blunder of trying to pin Sanders as a sexist. Endless speculation ensued from Washington-connected pundits about whether Sanders secretly harbored disdain for a section of the population which supports him the most. When that didn’t work, Hillary Clinton leaked a statement from her documentary that claimed “nobody liked” Sanders and that she felt sorry for those who have been duped into supporting a senator with few accomplishments. Clinton’s statement failed to move the needle in the establishment’s direction. Chairman of the Democratic National Committee Tom Perez concocted his own plan for undermining Sanders. Perez nominated a swarm of Wall Street-owned and neocon-connected corporate hacks to lead the convention process in July. The DNC leadership team includes former Clinton campaign chair John Podesta and banker Barney Frank, two individuals whose public record of active disdain for Sanders is well known.
Sanders hasn’t fared any better with the corporate media. A plethora of articles have been released by neocons like David Frum painting Sanders as a Trump-like figure. Bernie Sanders supporters have once again been attacked as hostile “Bernie Bros” after the wildly popular Joe Rogan half-endorsed Sanders for the nomination. The same corporate media that ignored Sanders and placed his polling numbers behind candidates such as Warren even when they were higher is now on a mission to delegitimize his campaign. If one only received information from the corporate media, then Sanders would be known simply as a sexist, unpopular liar and not the New Deal Democrat that he is.
The problem for the Democratic Party establishment is that the more Sanders is attacked, the more coverage he receives. More coverage, even if negative, has given Americans outside of the Sanders milieu an opportunity to judge the campaign for themselves. The attacks on Sanders have not been well received outside of the ever-shrinking echo chamber occupied primarily by Clinton loyalists. Americans may be the most propagandized people in the world, but most can make the simple judgment that Sanders, who has a long track record of standing up for the rights of women, is not the rampaging sexist the media has made him out to be. In other words, establishment hate for Sanders is only making him appear more electable, not less.
The corporate media and the Democratic Party establishment are two pillars of U.S. society even less popular than the Trump administration. A Gallup poll from 2019 shows that only thirteen percent of people trust the corporate media “a great deal.” Furthermore, the Democratic Party establishment has failed to distance itself from Hillary Clinton despite her own popularity problem. As of 2018, Clinton possessed just a thirty-six percent favorability with the U.S. population. For many Americans, anyone despised by the Clinton-led Democratic Party establishment is at least worthy of attention if not outright support.
It would be remiss, however, to attribute all of Sanders’ rise in the 2020 primary to the attacks being thrown at him by the Democratic Party establishment. Sanders is the only candidate in the 2020 Democratic Party field offering a comprehensive agenda that relates to the needs of poor and working people. Americans are ready to experiment with a 21st century New Deal. Stagnant wages, trillions worth in collective debt, and the broad array of disasters that come with not being to afford healthcare, childcare, and housing are becoming too much for millions of Americans to bear. Most people, however, are not ready to dump the Democratic Party and instead want to push it in the opposite direction. Sanders is the only person in the race who working people see as up to this immense task.
With the critical Iowa Caucus occurring on February 3, expect the establishment to continue its attacks on the Sanders campaign. The attacks may not derail the campaign, but they are a sign of things to come. Those who want a better life for the poor and the downtrodden are going to have to realize that the Democratic Party has the opposite goal in mind. Establishment hate of Sanders is fueled by the desire to keep the status quo; namely, the rule of the rich and powerful at the expense of the working class and poor majority. And it is going to take a lot more to unseat the establishment than electing Sanders. The establishment is ready to destroy the Sanders campaign for the second election in a row. Whether the people are ready to wage a struggle powerful enough to challenge the establishment’s grip on state power remains to be seen.
American Herald Tribune, where this article originally appeared, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
Danny Haiphong is the co-author of the book American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People’s History of Fake News-From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror.