In today’s editorial for Salon, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich challenged the mainstream media’s attempts to perpetuate the narrative that even though Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders scored overwhelming victories this past weekend in the caucuses in Alaska, Washington, and Hawaii, he couldn’t possibly win the nomination. As he notes, “a friend told me for what seemed like the thousandth time, attaching an article from the Washington Post that shows how far behind Bernie remains in delegates.”
Reich isn’t buying it, and he explains why. “Bernie has won six out of the seven Democratic primary contests with an average margin of victory of 40 points. Those victories have given him roughly a one hundred additional pledged delegates.” While Hillary still maintains a sizeable lead in pledged delegates, that “doesn’t make Bernie an impossibility” given there are still 22 states that have yet to vote with almost 45 percent of pledged delegates still to be decided. Furthermore, Bernie recently won six out of the last seven Democratic contests, which has given the Sanders campaign “positive momentum” and a massive boost to his fundraising, which could outpace Clinton’s this quarter.
Reich also plays down Hillary’s lead in superdelegates, which he believes “will vanish if Bernie gains a majority of pledged delegates.” Hillary also led President Obama in superdelegates during the 2008 primary season, but they soon switched to support Obama as it was apparent he would be our nominee. And let us not forget the enthusiasm for Bernie – his crowds keep growing and young people flock to volunteer. Reich also notes that support is “rising among the middle-aged and boomers.”
Interestingly, Reich does not agree with Sanders’ supporters who make claims “in dark tones about a media conspiracy against Bernie. That’s baloney. The mainstream media are incapable of conspiring with anyone or anything. They wouldn’t dare try. Their reputations are on the line. If the public stops trusting them, their brands are worth nothing.” However, what he does note is that media, itself, exists in “bubble of establishment politics centered in Washington, and the bubble of establishment power centered in New York.”
The real interest of the media is in the personalities and, of course, in the money behind those personalities: “Political reporting is dominated by stories about the quirks and foibles of the candidates, and about the people and resources behind them.”
Sanders is a movement, a man who has stuck to his principles for his entire career. He’s a man with the courage to call himself a Democratic socialist, a man who rejects the insider politics of the Democratic Party and has fiercely clung to his independence. As Reich notes, “it seems nonsensical [that a man] who has never been a fixture in the Washington or Manhattan circles of power and influence, and who has no major backers among the political or corporate or Wall Street elites of America, could possibly win the nomination.”
However, according to Reich, it is precisely because the media doesn’t know how to focus on movements and concerns itself with personalities that “they haven’t been attending to Bernie’s message – or to its resonance among Democratic and independent voters (as well as many Republicans).” The media is to a degree incestuous. It depends upon the wealthy and powerful for revenue and the members of the media rely on the wealthy and powerful for “news and access”. Reich reminds us that top media executives are themselves the rich and powerful and are themselves members of the very establishment “the major media have come to see much of America through the eyes of the establishment.” Reich suggests while this dynamic is understandable it is not to be justified:
“The media has failed to realize how determined Americans are to reverse the increasing concentration of wealth and political power that have been eroding our economy and democracy. And it’s understandable, even if unjustifiable, that they continue to marginalize Bernie Sanders.”
Bernie Sanders is advocating free public college – and access to vocational training, which along with the creation of jobs and raising the minimum wage will help families of color improve their overall quality of life. Indeed, because Sanders understands these systemic problems and has spent more than 50 years fighting against racial injustice and for economic equality – even if the media fails to recognize these facts, it appears they have not gone unnoticed by the voting public. Whether Bernie wins the nomination or not is to be seen, but he and his movement will have positively and dynamically shaped the direction of the Democratic Party.