Why Bernie is the Clear Frontrunner in 2020
This is probably about the time that the dread has been setting in. Just when you thought you had begun to recover from the 2016 election, here we are. You were probably hoping for at least a year off after the midterm elections before having to confront this reality, but unfortunately this is where we are at.
It is unclear whether the corporate media is intentionally working to suppress this point of view to protect their own interests, or because they live inside of a bubble, so divorced from working people and reality itself, that the obvious has eluded them.
Unfortunately reality does not bargain with our misconceptions. In other words, it’s time to get real people, and create a future we can all believe in.
Despite losing ground in the Senate, the Democrats won back control of the House. The danger here is to let this create a false sense of security. If the midterms proved anything, it’s that candidates won elections by running on unabashedly progressive platforms. We can say definitively from 2016 that running on a centrist platform or simply being anti-Trump is not nearly enough to mobilize the left’s base. The right wing can be motivated by fear alone or divisive wedge issues. Liberals and progressives must be inspired by vision, charisma and enthusiasm.
Medicare for all, creating good paying jobs, a green new deal, national $15 minimum wage, free college, ending corporate welfare, tax breaks for billionaires and foreign wars, banning fracking, and public banking are all issues that are inspiring people and gaining overwhelming support. The problem is that outside of party loyalists, nobody believes any of these candidates are going to follow through on their campaign promises, which is why turnout is so low. When turnout is low, democrats lose.
It has been a difficult two years living under the chaos of the Trump administration and the stakes are high as 2020 approaches. This may be the most important presidential race of our lifetime and if you identify as a democratic voter or tend to vote for democrats, this message is specifically for you.
One of my favorite descriptions of insanity, is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. Unfortunately we are already starting to see some familiar trends amongst the democratic establishment hacks, that have already lead us down a very dark path to a Trump presidency.
Over the coming months you will undoubtedly be bombarded with an endless barrage of op-ed, talking head and social media commentary offering a nauseating spectrum of conjecture. It is understandable that you will at times feel overwhelmed as the cacophony of opinions becomes white noise in your daily feed. Hopefully these words can offer some clarity in those moments as they present you with the opportunity to resolve yourself to sit back in total serenity, knowing that Bernie is our best chance at winning the White House and perhaps saving a good portion of the human race (…yes I am referring to climate change).
Before we examine each of the salient points I invite you to first briefly consider where we went wrong in 2016 with this part of nomination process.
By now you may have noticed that already the corporate media has been back at it neglecting to center Bernie Sanders as the presumptive front runner. Sanders has always been critical of the corporate media and their prioritizing sensationalism and political football over substantive debate on the issues.
The corporate news media, namely mainstream television outlets like MSNBC, CNN, Fox News have made a fortune off of Donald Trump.
The Pew Research center has profits for the telecom giant outlets soaring by billions of dollars since 2015, with CNN ad revenue increasing at 32 percent, and MSNBC a whopping 62%. That’s a lot of people tuning in to hear about how Russia was to blame for Donald Trump.
But were they alone to blame?
The networks gave Donald Trump over $3 Billion in free advertising. They even at one point, showed an empty stage at a Trump press conference while Bernie was addressing a record crowd of 40–50,000 people in Washington Square Park in New York City (official estimates recorded conservatively 27,000 but those in attendance reported an additional 20,000 spilling out of the park and into the surrounding side streets- not to mention 40K people watching on livestream).
Why? Because in a time when ratings were declining fast and most people were turning to social media for their information, he was like a gift from on high (or below as the case may be).
Don’t believe me? Here is CEO of CBS in his own words on Donald Trump and the 2016 election:
Leslie Moonves on Donald Trump: “It May Not Be Good for America, but It’s Damn Good for CBS.”
Not convinced yet? He goes on to say…
“Man, who would have expected the ride we’re all having right now? … The money’s rolling in and this is fun…I’ve never seen anything like this, and this going to be a very good year for us. Sorry. It’s a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going…Donald’s place in this election is a good thing.”
Why is this important?
Because there was once a time when journalists were an integral part of the checks and balances that kept the people informed and able to make decisions based on facts. Not only did they lie to us to keep the money train going but they laid the ground work for Trumps post fact world and his famous diatribe, “Fake News.” It stuck because though not everything they had reported about Trump was false, it had the ring of truth because they were lying to us. Instead of telling Democrats to fight for every vote, they routinely said that there was no way that Hillary would lose. Rachel Maddow at one point even said that South Carolina was “light pink” and that they were in a dead heat in the deep red state.
That’s right. Light pink.
Hillary went on to lose by almost 15 points in that race alone.
These talking heads are paid millions of dollars a year to be the propaganda arm of the military industrial complex and their business model is to keep the political football game alive and the campaign ad money flowing.
In a time when most Americans stopped tuning in to network news because of social media, the corporate media not only stood to make billions off of Donald Trump’s shit show political circus and become relevant again, but that, just like Brexit, all of their political pundits got it very very wrong. In fact just about all of the liberal elite were wrong
It wasn’t just the television media. The non-profit Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting released an analysis of the Jeff Bezo’s owned Washington Post, who released an astonishing 16 negative hit piece articles in 16 hours against Sanders
Did they get it wrong because of hubris? Bad assumptions? Or because they were trying to tilt the scales of public perception in favor of their presumptive nominee, Hillary Clinton? It is uncomfortable to remember all of the painful details. No one wants to be wrong. We will go to almost any lengths to not be wrong. We know this because of the Wikileaks’ earthquake release of John Podesta’s and the DNC’s emails. We know because of DNC Chairwoman Donna Brazile’s own bombshell admissions and what 13 million Sanders supporters witnessed with their own eyes.
Did Everyone Get it Wrong?
I never had a platform as big as they did but I was also one of the ones who accurately predicted this. I told this to Marc Elias (lead counsel for the Clinton campaign who helped engineer the infamous Trump-Russia dossier) at the Democratic Platform committee when Hillary’s delegates were striking down just about every progressive item on the Bernie delegates agenda.
Why is this even relevant? Why not let the past be the past?
The reason that this is relevant is to create a proper context to assess just how strong a candidate Bernie Sanders really is. It is also vital to understand that the without the millions of progressives who voted and campaigned for him, the country is fated to endure a second Trump administration.
Marc Elias, lock step with the rest of the Washington political establishment condescendingly told me that their “data was clear, and everyone would come around to support Clinton.” I told him “you are high if you believe that, and the election is going to come down to the angry white guys that got fucked over by NAFTA living in the Rust belt.” I went on to tell him that, it would be a horse race and that the real numbers would start emerging in late September, early October and that they would tell you just what they told all the super smart people in the U.K. who said there was no chance that Brexit would pass; that you are losing.
The outcome of the election speaks for itself.
Progressives are the most energetic leftists in the country. It’s not just the numbers, but the enthusiasm. Many of the progressive leaders were willing, despite being treated badly by the Clinton machine, to reluctantly throw their support behind the democratic nominee to avoid a Trump presidency. At the platform committee it became clear that her allegiances were to the fracking, AIPAC and Wall St. lobbyists who financed her campaign. Progressive leaders were told to shut up and kiss the ring. Save one victory on the climate agenda, won only by fighting tooth and nail, it was brutal.
The rest is history.
Now here are some of the reasons that Bernie is our only hope.
It’s Important That They Like You
This recent Newsweek article proves that not only is Bernie the only one that can beat Trump but that he is the most popular elected official in the country.
Net favorables are perhaps the most important indicator of electability. Since this was graph was released , Sanders’ favorability rating has skyrocketed to from 51% in 2016 to an astonishing 75%.
As you can see by the winners and losers how important this is.
Branding and the Media Game
The left often does not seem to fully grasp that in this age of late stage capitalism Americans have become so conditioned by corporate consumerism that branding has pervaded every aspect of life in our society. Politics is no exception. In a time when people will literally trample their fellow man for the best Black Friday deal, brand hegemony is everything.
Bill Clinton even cited in a 2015 interview with Stephen Colbert that Trump was a master brander. Trump has proven that he could convert the media’s endless lust for sensationalism into real political power. He was not only able to amass throngs of frenzied supporters who packed stadiums to hear his rhetoric, but he took out an entire field of republican career politicians.
Jeb Bush had a $130 million warchest and Trump ended his dynasty bid for the White House by branding his opponent with with three words:
“Low. Energy. Guy.”
Clinton was never able to get out from under Trump’s accusations of her being the epitome of the Washington establishment who has been selling American people out to their Wall Street cronies. It has always stuck because he finds his victims’ glaring vulnerabilities and reduces them to sound bites that stick.
There isn’t anyone in the field that will be able to go toe to toe with Trump on the debate stage other than Bernie. Beto may generate enthusiasm and have a bright future, but he would most likely get handled easily on the debate stage. His only real claim to fame is running against Cruz and losing. Just like a liberal version of Marco Rubio he would get eaten alive.
We never got to see Bernie take the gloves off in the primary as he was committed to running a positive campaign. Here is his takedown of conservative free market demi-god Alan Greenspan, so you could imagine what it might be like to go head to head with Trump. Bernie is the only one who has the grit, fire, facts and credibility to break through Donald Trump’s rhetoric. Let’s face it, every one of us wants to see Bernie annihilate 45 on national television.
Guess who else understands the media game. Bernie Sanders. He and his team has demonstrated a next level digital media savvy. His Facebook live videos regularly attract millions of viewers. One tweet from the Senator sent a pharmaceutical company’s stock plummeting 15% in one day, costing shareholders almost $400 million. That is real power.
Bernie Sanders has a heavy cavalry of alternative media who are fiercely loyal, from platforms such as The Young Turks and a host of other independent talk shows. The Political Revolution not only takes advantage of new media, but it is tech savvy. Founded by Bernies supporter Rapi Castillo, the Progressive Coders Network or ProgCode is a collective of over 200 coders that was formerly Coders for Bernie. The group was responsible for creating many of the apps that enabled the Bernie’s Political Revolution to fast become a fund raising and GOTV behemoth.
Bernie Sanders not only has a brand, but it is en fuego. His brand is synonymous with integrity, honesty, authenticity and a genuine concern for the welfare of the people. This is the rarest commodity in modern politics.
There is also more Bernie merchandise out there than you can imagine. There is everything from Bernie t-shirts made from famous punk rock logos, ugly Christmas sweaters, to prayer candles, and even Bernie onesies.
One of the reasons this is so important right now is because the democrats’ brand is in serious trouble. Decades of neoliberal policies like NAFTA, corporate subsidies, bailouts and interventionist wars have left the poor and middle class decimated. Working people are hurting. Even after the public shockwave of 2016 losses, email leaks and whistleblowers, the Democratic leadership has failed to address concerns that they are out of touch with working people. Gains were made in the midterms largely due to the newly revitalized grassroots movements, but the party leaders continue to present the same tired messaging and same faces that were at the helm with the ship ran aground.
Bernie Has an Army of Supporters
Anyone who has spent time in the Trump digital groups doing basic opposition research will attest to the fact that the Donald’s online following is a juggernaut. The numbers in the Facebook groups alone are terrifying and their memes are ubiquitous. Make no mistake, 45 is going to be very difficult to defeat. There is even an entire mythology about how Trump supporters dominated the interwebs with the viral power of their memes. They call it “The Great Meme War”.There is also remarkable podcast by Radiolabs telling the story of how 4Chan came together to defeat Shia LaBeof in the most spectacular and horrifying way.
If you aren’t taking this seriously yet, you really should be.
Here is a hard truth. Perhaps the greatest vulnerability on the left is the attitude of self-righteousness. According to recent studies, Americans hate pc culture. Even if we are correct about the myriad forms of oppression that exist, left to our own devises we can be a never ending barrage of pointing out “what’s wrong” with the world most people would prefer to tune out. I do it too, and am just as much to blame.
It can be an awful cacophony of woke-a-tarian white noise. This is part of what gave rise to the weird anti-SJW internet subculture on Reddit and 4Chan that Steve Bannon was able to game and weaponize into a political tsunami. If you want to win a general election you’re going to have to court voters outside of the echo chamber of the democratic party.
Not to fear. Bernie’s Sanders supporters are an online tidal wave
Not only does Bernie have a brand and an army of followers, but a slogan that has become the battle cry of millions of dedicated Sandernistas. By the end of the primaries #FeelTheBern had been posted almost 7.4 million times. Granted #MakeAmericaGreatAgain was shared over 11 million times, but keep in mind that unlike the Berniecrats, Trump supporters largely do not take to the streets to canvas and organize. Think Kamala, Biden, Warren or Joe Kennedy have a shot at generating this type of online excitement to counter Trump’s social media leviathan? Think again.
We even turned the iconic Hollywood landmark Johnie’s Diner into a Bernie-themed center for grassroots activism and campaigning, replete with psychedelic murals. If the left is going to reclaim control of the government from the current corporate conservative regime we are going to need to think outside of conventional politics
There is an almost endless number of pro-Bernie groups on Facebook that have maintained their active membership for 2 years. Pages and groups Bernie Sander’s Dank Meme Stash and Millennials for Bernie (now Millennials for Revolution) controlled the “memes of production.” Memes can be incredibly powerful tools transmitting narratives, but only if they are good.
The People for Bernie Sanders is a volunteer lead grassroots social media platform that not only outperformed Hillary Clinton’s accounts every day of the primary, generating billions of impressions with virtually no budget, but also spearheaded organizing efforts that helped launch in person Bernie groups all over the country.
Social media hegemony is not necessarily based in logic but in what narratives are gaining footholds the fastest. This is why both Russia and Hillary Clinton Super Pac Correct the record created online troll farms to silence dissent and promulgate various narratives. Though Sanders was not able ultimately to overcome the opposition, the power of his online following was certainly a factor in his becoming the first grassroots lead insurgent campaign in the modern age to legitimately challenge the most well funded and powerful political machine on the planet. Even though the primary ended, Bernie never stopped being in campaign mode and the majority of his supporters have remained active.
Powerful memes and hashtags can do more to counter a narrative than any cogent, well thought out argument, especially if the opposition is impervious to logic and live in a post-fact reality. They only work if they are good. There is an art to the meme and there is a saying in the digital underground; “the left can’t meme.” This is largely true with the exception of Bernie supporters, who have the dankest memes.
For example, imagine someone suggests Donald Trump is “draining the swamp.”
See what I mean?
A meme like this is only effective because Sanders integrity and authenticity has come to redefine modern politics on the left.
The Bernie movement has also displayed a tremendous capacity to respond in real time to events. Bernie supporters grassroots media and organizing played a significant role in the bringing of the Dakota Access pipeline at Standing Rock to the national stage. The same crew of surrogates who stumped for Bernie across the country were instrumental in generating the awareness propelling NoDAPL to become the largest pipeline fight in history.
Allies such as Shailene Woodley, Susan Sarandon, Dr. Cornel West, and Mark Ruffalo helped draw tens of thousands to the front lines, many of whom were Sanders stalwarts, inspired by the photos of Bernie getting arrested during the Civil Rights movement*.
What’s the point? Bernie has an actual army. Many of the core Women’s march organizers including Linda Sarsour were vocal Sanders supporters in the primary.
Bernie’s organization Our Revolution has multiple groups in almost every state in the union and has become a force supporting progressive candidates in elections nationwide at all levels of government.
Still Feeling the Bern
Bernie unites the left in a way that even Obama was never able to do. All that energy that we tend to focus on what is wrong with the world is transmuted into an intersectional vision for America that both recognizes the sources of oppression and channels the collective rage into positive actionable policies. He also is able to do this without alienating average working people.
Bernie’s brand is fun and it is people powered. Because the movement behind him was decentralized it inspired countless creative events, songs, marches, videos and other crowd sourced offerings.
There was even a Bernie Sanders Star Wars parody series created by our friend Shane Barbera called Bernie Sand Wars (click link to watch). You couldn’t make this up.
Everything changed in 2016 and it changed forever. It was the first year that social media won out over traditional big money machine politics and ground game. The Democratic party spent $1 Billion on high paid consultants. Where did that get the party and the rest of the country for that matter?
Bernie is a Rockstar
I have attended Sanders rallies all over the country. What did they all have in common? They took place in stadiums, large concert halls and arenas, and they were all packed. The lines to get in stretched over a hundred yards and had people selling merchandise just like a festival or U2 concert.
The last rally I attended, which was hosted by Shaun King and Black Lives Matter L.A., took place in downtown Los Angeles. Bernie not only packed the theater, but had to have a separate rally outside for the thousands of people who couldn’t get in. The line was literally around an entire city block and when Sanders arrived the applause was deafening. This was two years after the election. This was a stark juxtaposition to Clinton rallies, who, despite her being one of the most famous public figures on the planet, failed to draw numbers consistently greater than in the hundreds.
Trump has never stopped campaigning and drawing big crowds. There is no other candidate that has the capacity to attract the numbers to exceed or rival that of Orange Hitler. This music video #JustVote that we made documenting the rallies should give you an idea of the enthusiasm Bernie rallies generate.
The reason that Bernie is able to attract such big crowds is that he has surprising rockstar charisma. Charisma has been the deciding factor as to whether or not a democratic nominee has gone on to not only win but be reelected. What is the difference between two-term presidents Bill Clinton and Obama and Michael Dukakis, Mondale, Gore, Kerry, and Hillary? Rockstar charisma versus lifeless, uninspiring, robotic personalities
The Power of Cool
Bernie has the cool kids. Hands down. No contest. I challenge you to go back to every presidential general election in the last 40 years, and you will find that the cooler candidate won. Every time.
Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Reagan vs Dukakis or Carter. Clinton vs George Bush or Dole. George W. vs Gore or Kerry. Clinton vs. Trump. Obama vs either conservative white guy. In the case of Obama it was a blood bath. I disagree with a great many of Obama’s neoliberal economic, security and energy policies but there will never be a cooler president.
Sanders has avowed support from cultural influencers like Killer Mike from Run the Jewels. Shepard Fairey. Ta-Nahisi Coates. Sonic Youth. Zoe Kravitz. The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Saul Williams. Rosario Dawson. Roger Waters. Neil Young. Susan Sarandon. Jeff Tweedy from Wilco. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Shailene Woodley. Reggie Watts. The list goes on.
They don’t just like and support him. They are ride or die for the Bern. No one else in the field comes close, and they will never catch up. Bernie is not just a candidate or policy maker, and whether you like him or not, he has become an American icon and a symbol for progressive change.
Bernie won 22 states in the primary including Rust Belt states Michigan and Wisconsin that were Obama strongholds but went to Trump. The Rust Belt states were some of the hardest hit by NAFTA and never fully recovered. I have travelled throughout the region and the name Clinton still inspires anger even amongst those who have traditionally identified and voted as democrats. They were always going to be pivotal swing states and yet why was this never at the forefront of the discussion as to Hillary being the presumptive front runner?
“For every blue-collar Democrat we will lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two or three moderate Republicans in the suburbs of Philadelphia,” Chuck Schumer, the Democratic minority leader in the Senate, told The Washington Post
Yup. That was a thing.
This is critical to keep in mind for 2020 as the Rust Belt will again be a determining factor in the outcome of the general.
If you consider the factor that Bernie would have had the grassroots fracking, climate, coalitions, undocumented rights and union coalitions behind him as well as the full force of the Democratic party base and establishment, his working class populist message very likely would have outperformed Trump in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Florida. As Gasland director Josh Fox said at the Democratic Platform Committee, “Pennsylvanians and Ohioans aren’t going to vote to frack their own backyard.”
Bernie’s fundraising alone should qualify him as the clear front runner.
Sanders raised $218 million online from a record 2.8 million donors mostly from small individual donations averaging $27. He smashed Obama’s 2008 fundraising records. Consider the magnitude of this achievement given the fact that he took no corporate campaign bribes from Wall Street, Big Pharma, fossil fuels, or weapons manufacturers and that he started the race with a 1% name recognition nationally. He ran against a former first lady, senator and secretary of state who is one of the most recognized names in the world.
Bernie’s email list is not only one of the largest and most powerful in the country, but has integrated it with his platform that is a fundraising machine.
Tom Perez, DNC chair, said he wants “to learn from Senator Sanders about how he did it.”
Support Amongst Black Voters
In the primary, the Sanders campaign did not have the time or resources to run a 50 state campaign and adequately reach out to African American voters especially in the South. This was despite the fact that black leaders like civil rights icon Harry Belafonte, Black Lives Matter activists Erica Garner and Shaun King, Dr. Cornel West, Spike Lee, Killer Mike, Danny Glover and others were unabashedly outspoken supporters giving speeches all around the county in support of Bernie. They frequently referenced his life long commitment to civil rights and fact that the African American community supported the Democratic party, but that the democratic leadership often failed black communities.
Now that Bernie is no longer an unknown Senator from Vermont, his overall popularity amongst African American voters has hit a critical mass. He named Nina Turner, president of Our Revolution in 2017 and has been working diligently to make inroads with other leaders like Poor People’s Campaign co-founder Rev. William Barber. He will still need to make up ground in bridging the gap in public perceptions but his agenda for criminal justice and economic reform has already lead to his surging in popularity with black voters. As the title of this Washington Post article tells us, it’s time to end the myth that black voters don’t like Bernie Sanders.
Again displaying their dexterity for online rapid response, Sanders supporters countered the media myth of the “Bernie Bro,” with the hilarious hashtag #BernieMadeMeWhite. This rehashing of the 2008 “Obama bro” trope, framing his supporters as mostly young, disillusioned, misogynistic white males. This was but one example of how the online army behind Bernie is a force that is not only diverse but cannot be ignored.
It is often noted by Clinton loyalists that her defeat of Sanders was overwhelming, but consider the fact that at least 13 of the states she won were deep red republican strongholds that would give a decisive victory in the primaries, but would be of no real consequence in the general.
Bernie’s Got Nurse Power
I am perhaps biased because I come from a family of nurses, but there are few professions so fiercely committed to the betterment of our collective well being. If you went to any Bernie Sanders rally across the country, it was inevitable that you would witness red tour buses and a sea of smiling faces in red shirts waiving Nurses (heart) Bernie signs.
“What Bernie Sanders’ campaign represents is an opportunity to not just speak truth to power, but to join movements together to change our country,” said National Nurses United Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro. “His issues align with nurses from top to bottom.” DeMoro wasted no time endorsing Sanders potential bid for 2020 by releasing the NNU statement in September of 2017.
“There is no other legislator who represents the same humanity, the same courage,” DeMoro said, adding that for his track record of supporting the issues that matter most to nurses, the public and the planet, NNU is proud to endorse Sanders as a “president for all people.”
Expect massive union support as Senator Sanders has recently introduced a bill to revitalize unions and ban “right to work” laws.
Despite corporate media narratives, third parties were not a decisive reason that Trump was elected president. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson won the lionshare of third party votes and most likely pulled more from Trump than from Clinton. Third party voters like Green Party supporters of Ralph Nader or Jill Stein WILL NEVER SUPPORT AN ESTABLISHMENT CANDIDATE. If Biden or anyone who is perceived to have been selected by the party bosses is nominated, you can write off those votes. No matter how you try to explain that it is dangerous and irresponsible to allow Donald Trump to be elected president, it will not matter.
If people actually tell you ahead of time that they will not support the establishment candidate what makes you think they will change their minds and whose fault is it really for not taking this into consideration?
The far left is more radically minded and therefore less malleable in their positions on the issues. They will however vote for Bernie in greater numbers. Unfortunately even though you think Elizabeth Warren is progressive, she is viewed largely as a sellout because she failed to endorse Sanders in the primaries, where she could have made the difference in the Massachusetts primary and possibly shifted the direction of the race.
The greater danger in not nominating Sanders for 2020 is not losing far left votes, it is that the majority of progressive voters will either support third party candidates running on the issues they care about or simply will not bring the enthusiasm necessary to get out the vote or will stay at home on that fateful Tuesday in November. Even greater still is that they will troll whatever candidate is selected to tow the line for the lobbyists and wealthy donors in the Hamptons. Do not for one moment entertain the thought that they will fall in line. It didn’t happen in 2016 and it won’t happen in 2020.
Insanity. Doing the same thing expecting different results.
“He’s Not Even a Democrat”
Given everything that has happened, are we even entertaining this as a valid objection? This is the moment I am going to invite you to take a deep breath and think good and hard about this conversation you are having with yourself and whoever else you have been talking to. Consider that this is the same tribalistic partisan mentality that has shut down all intelligent discourse in our country and lead us to the present political realities that gave rise to the conditions that would allow someone like Trump to come into power.
First and foremost our concern must be to win, and Bernie Sanders is currently the only prospect in the field that can beat Trump.
Also consider the fact that Bernie Sanders maintaining his status as an Independent is a good thing. Independents are the largest voting bloc in the country. Only 58.1% of eligible voters showed up to the polls in 2016 versus 64% of the electorate in 2008. Why? Because most didn’t see any hope for the kind of change people are desperate for.
Billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who during his term as mayor of New York, instituted the racist and destructive “Stop and Frisk” policy, is the 11th richest man in the world. He is currently on most mainstream media lists as a legitimate contender for 2020. See where I am going with this?
In a time when democrats have been losing badly to republicans, no one has done more to revitalize the party than Bernie Sanders and his political revolution. Outrage over the Trump presidency only in part contributed to the Democrats taking back the House this November. A great majority of the enthusiasm of the “Blue Wave” was fueled by the Sanders wing of progressives out in the streets knocking on every door.
Also isn’t the Democratic Party supposed to be the “big tent” all inclusive party?
Bernie’s independent status hurt him badly in his race for the nomination as only 22 states have open primaries, where non-democratic party voters are eligible, but he would have dominated in the general election where this is not a factor. This is important to consider with respect to 2020. The reflex might be to discount someone who isn’t “one of us”, but perhaps it would be wise think beyond to our tribalistic inclinations to back the strongest candidate.
Author Heather Gautney points out in a Guardian op-ed:
“During the New York primary, between 3 and 4 million “unaffiliated” voters were disenfranchised due to a statute that required changing one’s party affiliation 25 days prior to the previous general election. In 2016, that deadline was 193 days before election day. Over a third of under-30 voters — Sanders’s core constituency — weren’t registered to any political party. When those young people tried to vote, they were turned away.”
Many of these voters are still hurting from the trauma of 2016. They will not support a Democratic candidate selected by the party elite, but they will be ride or die for Bernie.
Let’s not make the same mistake twice.
The battle for the White House is going to come down to what side gets out of bed on Tuesday.
With all that is at stake it is imperative to approach 2020 with a winning mindset. What that does not look like is “falling in line” behind the media and party bosses who continue to go to any lengths to resist letting go of control. The populist left Bernie represents will not support a candidate selected by wealthy corporate donors in the invisible primaries taking place in the Hamptons. Despite losing the White House, the Supreme Court and over 1000 seats nationwide to a radical right wing agenda, the democratic establishment, who, like the record companies who tried to fight and sue Napster instead of adapting with the changing times like iTunes did, has continued to shore up the status quo.
“He’s Too Old”
Bernie Sanders is 77 years old. Joe Biden is 76. If that is going to be the argument then we can disqualify Biden right now as well. Bernie is only 5 years the senior of Donald Trump and is indefatigable. During the primary he traveled the country giving, not a 10–15 minute pitch like most politicians, but a 90 minute impassioned discourse on the great challenges facing our nation and the policy measures necessary to meet them. Every. Single. Day. He still somehow managed to fly back (coach, not first class) and do his job of voting as a U.S. Senator.
Bernie knows what it means to run for president, understands the demands of the office and will only run if he is equal to the challenge. After that the trope “Bernie is too old” is simply ageism. His support amongst Millennials and Gen X’ers continues to grow who combined is now eclipsing the Baby Boomers in terms of voter turn out. This a combined voting bloc that is now eclipsing that of the Baby Boomers, who seem to be the only ones, generally speaking, concerned that his age is a factor. Also consider all of his fans who were too young to vote in 2016 but have now come of age and are showing up at the polls. At the end of the day it is a popularity contest, and there is no one who comes close.
Our concern right not above all is to elect a president who has the grit and vision to inspire this nation to rise above the radical right wing agenda and come together to save itself from self-destruction.
As of the mid term elections Donald Trump has retained about 90% of the support of the republican party which puts him on track for a second term. He continues to draw enormous crowds who don’t seem to care that nothing he says is actually true. They live in an alternate reality where any criticism by the left mainstream media or democrats is “fake news.”
One thing that Donald Trump understands that the left often fails to grasp is the power of narrative. According to the recently departed communications professor Walter Fisher, there are two aspects of narrative paradigm theory; narrative coherence and narrative fidelity. Narrative coherence measure how a story holds together and narrative fidelity connects with how well the story harmonizes with the listeners experience or world view.
To a rational person it is obvious that Donald Trump lies or makes things up as he goes. To someone who is desperate to believe that he is in a secret war with the globalists and the deep state. As John Barth once said, “Everyone is necessarily the hero of his own life story.” To Trump supporters everything the media says about him is fake news because they are part of the Democratic elite that wants to take away their guns and elected a Muslim president who was born in Kenya.
Conservatives may not agree with Bernie’s policies, but they overwhelmingly believe that he is honest, he cares about working people and that the media and Democratic Establishment is out to get him. Bernie is the only one that cuts through the narratives being driven by conservative media.
“They Will Never Elect a Socialist”
First off let’s get one thing clear. If we are using Scandinavia as the model we aren’t talking about socialism. Countries like Sweden and Denmark are capitalist social democracies. Socialism means that the workers control the modes of production. Bernie has never once advocated that. So really Bernie is in truth a social democrat. Keep in mind that even though he has identified himself in the past with democratic socialism, this has not affected his overwhelming popularity or effectiveness as a policy maker. If anything it has endeared him to the largest voting bloc in the country, the millennial generation.
Secondly, they also said that a black man name Barack Hussein Obama would never be elected president, or a draft dodging reality t.v. show hack trust fund baby who has never held elected office would win the Oval Office. And yet both of those things happened.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unseating the 4th ranking House Democrat Joe Crowley is the canary in the coal mine for the party. She ran on a unabashedly progressive and democratic socialist platform. It worked. Big time. Like Bernie, her association with the “S” word has not prevented her social and political stock from rising, and rising fast.
Though Trump’s popularity is holding with his base, his policies have continued to sell out working people. Their lives have not actually improved and in fact are becoming more desperate.
Even Daily KOS founder Markos Moulitsa’s recently said in an interview:
“Democrats Better Embrace “Socialist” Label If They Want To Win In 2020"
Bernie is Battle Tested
Perhaps the most compelling reason that Bernie is the clear front runner in 2020 is that he has already survived an entire primary campaign where just about every possible trope, character assassination, and misrepresentation was use to attack him. David Brock spent $1 million dollars on paid trolls to push false narratives. Bernie is threatening the most powerful industries in the world with his platform. They even tried to blame Trump on him briefly.
None of it has stuck and he emerged from the cesspool of the 2016 elections and the last two subsequent years as the most beloved policy maker in the country. Any candidate that emerges will be put through the gauntlet of national scrutiny and oppo research. Who knows what skeletons will be unearthed and how the base will react? With Bernie you know exactly what you are going to get. Firebrand enthusiasm for systemic change
Beating Trump is Not a Vision
In an interview last year Trump strategist Steve Bannon said, “The Democrats, the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”
We know that Trump is a racist and a misogynist. We know he is a climate denier and is selling out the poor and middle class to the billionaire class. Everyone understands that victory is essential right now. It is not enough however for the democrats to run on a platform of how bad Trump is.
Conservatives can be motivated to get out the vote based on fear or racism. The left only turns out in numbers when there is excitement. This comes down to how charismatic the candidate is and how inspiring their campaign and platform is.
Like it or not, the progressives will not get excited to fire up the base for anyone in the field except Bernie Sanders or Tulsi Gabbard. Many may begrudgingly vote for “Not Trump 2020,” but there certainly will not be the enthusiasm to knock on doors, phone bank, mobilize online, create viral content, come out to rallies, etc. Keep in mind that progressives are not like blue dog democrats.
The Democratic party establishment and loyalist voters will get behind the democratic nominee. That’s why they are called blue dogs. They would vote for a blue dog if he was on the ticket. The progressives and far left will not. You may not like it, but it is a political reality that must be reconciled. It is crucial to understand this so that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past. It is a two edged sword. There has been rift in the party since 2016. The midterms were a step in right direction, but people are still far too disillusioned to create unity. Bernie can change that.
Not only will every vote count, but when the combined force of the democratic establishment meets the colossal energy of the grassroots, we can win the White House, the Senate and God willing the Supreme Court.
Time is Running Out
Income Inequality has reached record proportions. Unions are dying. Wages have remained stagnant while the billionaire class has enjoyed record gains. The banks are too big too fail and on course for another crash. We are facing Opioid epidemics, mass incarceration, and the need for massive immigration and criminal justice reform.
Climate Change is at our doorstep. The Camp, Woolsey and Thomas fires have already brought historic devastation to California now becoming an annual occurrence. At a 2 degree increase there will be a tipping point triggering catastrophic events escalating exponentially beyond our ability to respond. It is going to take massive global infrastructure change on par with World War 2 organizing efforts to meet the challenges of climate change, and the human race isn’t even close.
Think the refugee crisis in Honduras or Syria is bad now? Some projections have climate crises displacing 150–300 million people as global temperatures and sea levels rise, and escalating climate catastrophes like Hurricane Sandy and Katrina. There are subsea methane deposits that could potentially endanger the survival of the human race. Both the democrats and republicans have been expanding fossil fuel extraction, when we need to at 100% renewable energy and kicking our addiction to fossil fuels like a junky needs to get of off heroin.
Bernie Sanders is the only statesman to have the vision, grass root support, and political will to address these critical issues.
Just to recap, here are some of the reasons Bernie Sanders is the clear front runner for the 2020 presidential election:
- Net Favorables
- Fundraising abilities
- List size
- Grassroots army
- Support from Independents
- Cool Kids
- Online force
- Grit and public perception of integrity
- Policy Vision
- We have no choice
We can no longer afford to relate to political candidates like our favorite brand of soft drink. We are past talking about who we like. It is time we acknowledge the political realities before us and align on the candidate who will not only win but can unite our country to create a sustainable society for future generations. If you truly want the Democrats back in power and guiding policies for this county, don’t tow the party line to shore up the status quo and listen to consultants and media hacks give more bad advice. The best thing you can do to help the party is to hold them accountable to getting it right this time around.
Note: *It is important to note that while the Bernie movement made a significant contribution to efforts at Standing Rock, it was the efforts of the Indigenous activists and leaderships that deserve the credit and acknowledgement for leading that historic fight.
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions feel free to contact me on twitter, instagram or facebook. I am also reachable by carrier pigeon and telepathy. If you want to support ongoing organizing efforts or to buy me tacos click here.