Saturday, October 17, 2015

Being Invisible

It was comical after Wednesday's Democratic debate, to watch MSNBC political hosts and pundits dance around the fact that Bernie Sanders has more supporters than Hillary.  They have mostly been ignoring his growing and extremely enthusiastic followers despite huge crowds and numbers -- and amounts -- of donations to his campaign.  They have been ignoring this despite the fact that he is accomplishing this without the celebrity and fortune of Donald Trump.

So when several focus groups agreed that after the debate they would support Bernie over Hillary, the media continued to report Hillary as "the winner" of the debate.  I heard a pundit rationalize that just because people in focus groups say they support someone it doesn't mean they will go out and vote for them.  Okay, I guess that could be said for all the brouhaha about Donald Trump as well as his sidekick, idiot savant Ben Carson.

But look who has noticed Bernie Sanders.  Donald Trump, the following day, called him a "maniac" that is forcing "poor Hillary" to the left -- "this socialist-slash-communist."  And, by the way, this maniac that is pushing Hillary around is just not the "tough, strong leader" that we need.

While we might not call Trump logical or rational, what he does have is a very sharp awareness of threat, and a subsequent instinct about how to attack and manipulate that threat.  Call it his cutthroat business sense, or maybe just his success at being a bully.  So when Trump takes notice and begins to attack Bernie Sanders, it is safe to assume that he recognizes the threat.

When is the media going to get it?  Time and again we have seen the media snowed by the loudest voice, the predominant story, the words of the powerful and/or the wealthy.  Take their focus on candidate Trump.  How many times did we watch segments wherein the media couldn't believe all the attention Donald Trump was getting from the media?  They have their story and by gods they are sticking by it, regardless of the facts.

The facts being that Bernie gets the largest crowds, the greatest number of donations, the most hits on Twitter, the loudest cheers of all the Democratic candidates.  That pundits were reporting Hillary as the winner of the debate after hearing the audience response (remember the old applause meter?) meant that they may have been hearing but they sure weren't listening.

Speaking of applause meters, back in 1980, I would watch Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show.  As the presidential election approached, each night he would ask the audience to clap if they were voting for Carter, and then if they were voting for Reagan.  The applause was always, always far louder for Reagan.  And Carson would look astonished and chuckle.

The media is doing that now for Donald Trump, and I am not finding it all that funny.  My own sense of self-preservation and denial kick in and I think, "Well, that doesn't mean they are going to get out and vote for him."  Yes, sadly, the idiots that can find their way to the town halls and the stadiums to cheer for his hate-filled nonsense can -- and will -- find their way to the polls.  But I am hoping that there is a lot more noise than substance, that those republicans who are embarrassed by Trump are many, and they are not seeking attention.  And that when a strong candidate presents on the other side, all those wackos will stay home and watch Trump and Fox News on TV.

On the other hand, we Democrats aren't comfortable welcoming success to our house.  I have talked with far too many who say they like Bernie but can't vote for him because he can't win.  And yet the enthusiasm among younger voters is very much like that for Barack Obama in 2008.  Are we really willing to reject a candidate we like, refuse to see the groundswell of support he is getting because it does not match our expectations?

When Obama won in 2008, with an increase in the majority of both House and Senate, Democrats were smug in their assumption that the republicans had been put down.  Oh we did laugh when John Boehner said "Hell, no you can't!" in his opposition to the health care bill.  And we were amazed at the gall when Mitch McConnell in the Senate said that the number one goal of the republican party should be to see that Obama did not get a second term.  Well, Obama did not back down on health care, although too many Democrats in Congress did, and the result was that Obama won his second term and became stronger, and the Democrats in Congress were left in the dust.  Not surprisingly the ones most likely to get dumped were the ones most afraid to stand tall as Democrats.

So here's the thing about Bernie.  I'm fine with him being ignored by the media, but he has shown himself to be quite capable of handling the inevitable attacks on his "socialism."  The people know he's out there, and a lot of us are behind him.  Hillary is a fine candidate and would make a fine president, but Bernie is that much better for not ever having to be tempted to be beholding to Wall Street and corporate donors.  He has made it farther than any of us, including himself, thought possible, so who are we to jump to conclusions about the likelihood of his success?

I am 100 percent for Bernie Sanders.  He has as much chance as anyone to win the nomination, and more so if those of us who are worried about whether he can make it stop worrying and vote for him.

If he does not win the nomination, I will throw my support behind Hillary with no reservations.  But until then, I believe that Bernie Sanders is our best possible candidate, and that he can win both the nomination and the election (my god, look who he would be running against!).  And, as Obama did in 2008, Bernie will help us get back a Democratic Congress.

Meanwhile, isn't it wild being the party of the people, fearless and moving forward?

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