By Jerry Mooney
It has now been determined that Bernie Sanders, in fact, won the Nevada caucuses. This determination helps his delegate count and his case that Arizona’s results are to be contended. However, the machinery of the Clinton campaign and the forced narratives of the media can still claim Nevada a victory. Why? Because the news cycle has moved on and Sanders winning Nevada after the result was reported as a Clinton victory maintains the perception of Hillary’s presumptive nomination.
Although Bernie Sanders is not getting a lot of bad press, opposed to Clinton, Trump and Cruz, this is largely due to the fact that he is being ignored. Even though Sanders is ahead of the pace of Obama’s 2008 delegate count, has a victory and delegate lead outside of the deep red south and the momentum after recent blowout victories, the press consistently treats Sanders as an afterthought.
This is particularly revealing considering the how much more success Sanders has had in the process than the Republicans not named Trump, yet Ted Cruz and John Kasich are treated like viable candidates and receive actual press coverage.
An example comes from Dr. Lara Brown, Director George Washington School of Political Management, yesterday in the Washington Times. Dr. Brown’s political analysis is largely portrayed as nonpartisan. But her “nonpartisan” analysis implicitly props up Hillary Clinton as the only legitimate contender, while her analysis of Bernie Sanders is that he has effective hair. Her assumption is that the Sanders campaign can’t win and is only showing Hillary Clinton that she should stay left in the general election (nomination assumed), but you have to be aware of this rhetorical trickery in order to notice it. For example, she states:
“At the end of the day, what you will see is that many people decide they’d rather have a pragmatic, experienced person in Hillary than they would the completely unknown Donald Trump, or the Sen. Sanders or Sen. Cruz ideologue.”
Words like “experienced” and “unknown” are designed to look nonpartisan, but insidiously paint Hillary as the only real viable option. This might not even be conscious, but it’s still effective. In addition it paints the subtext that it is a foregone conclusion that she will win. What’s deceptive about this is it’s a forced conclusion. She determines that Sanders belongs in the same clown car as Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and implicitly degrades him by association.
Then, she deftly implies that Sanders is inexperienced and unpragmatic, but only by implication. It could easily be argued that Sanders has a longer track record of accomplishments than any of the other candidates. This sneaky tactic plays on readers at a subconscious level and cultivates that feeling that Hillary has already won and a vote for Sanders is a throw-away vote. It’s sophisticated and effective and allows for those who engage in it plausible deniability.
These tactics are old school, however, and even though they have an effect, they aren’t determinant, particularly in today’s political climate. Currently, there is a wave of anti-establishment sentiments on both sides and that is engaging previously dormant forces, like the youth.
Additionally, because the youth have become engaged at record levels, old school rhetoric is not resonant. Current sentiments among young voters are not concerned with an objective analysis of the implications of raising the minimum wage or even that productivity has been sharply rising while wages have remained stagnant. They simply know they want to make more money. As such, simple messaging by Bernie Sanders targeting the deep desires and addressing the fears of an expanding electorate is making him more viable, even if old political analysis is slow to catch up.
Ultimately, the political pundits seem eager to ignore the political climate that is bubbling to the surface. The fact that he continues to be ignored during his campaign actually adds fuel to his message. He is taking on the establishment, and by being ignored, his message becomes louder and more credible.
Feature photo courtesy of Flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license
Jerry Mooney is co-founder and managing editor of Zenruption and the author of History Yoghurt and the Moon. He studied at the University of Munich and Lewis and Clark College where he received his BA in International Affairs and West European Studies. He has recently taught Language and Communications at a small, private college and owned various businesses, including an investment company that made him a millionaire before the age of 40. Jerry is committed to zenrupting the forces that block social, political and economic justice. He can also be found on Twitter@JerryMooney