Pox Americana

"Politics is a disease for dirty little animals." – HST

Surging Bernie

BernieSandersRacism72915

I’ve been watching Bernie Sanders’ run at the Democratic nomination from across the Pacific for some months now and am gobsmacked at just how big he’s become. Perhaps I’ve been out of the country for too long, but I confess to viewing his candidacy through a bloodshot, jaundiced eye. Of course I support him and most everything he stands for, but I found it beyond the frontiers of credulity that a gesticulating, wild-haired, raving Jewish socialist could break out of say, the two percentage range, polling wise. I figured he’d electrify the patchouli and drum circle set, but in the end be relegated to the sad confines of Ralph Nader Land.

So far I’ve been wrong, and let’s just say I’m fucking stoked.

This week saw Bern Nation presented with some very good news: The grumpy senator from Vermont has pulled ahead of Hillary Clinton in Iowa, according to a major poll. He already leads in New Hampshire–which is no surprise, since it’s basically his back yard–but Sanders busting out in Iowa is huge. These are the first two states to pick the lead horse and if Sanders takes them both it would cripple Hillary’s already bleeding campaign. I wrote last week how she’s becoming toxic and it’s just getting worse. We all know that she carries stacks of baggage, only now they’re emitting Chernobyl-like levels of radiation. The public senses this, and each day more presumed Hillary supporters are tearing away and joining Bernie’s posse. I never thought I’d say it, but he’s beginning to look like a winner. Most of my political discussions with folks back home happen on Facebook, and I can only count ONE person out of over 1,500 friends who openly and enthusiastically backs Hillary Clinton. That’s it. As General Zod (played by the brilliant Terence Stamp) bellows out in Superman 2: “IS THERE NO ONE???”

Not only is Bernie surfing atop these polls, but he also picked up the endorsement of MoveOn, one of the the biggest lefty organisations in America. According to the statement, 78.6 percent of its membership in an online vote of more than 340,000 members cast their lot for Mr. Sanders. Hillary netted a paltry 14.6. While this endorsement is no surprise, it shows just how solid and deep his support is among American progressives.

What is surprising however, is the praise that Bernie is picking up from other quarters. Just yesterday Vice President Joe Biden threw some serious accolades Bernie’s way, commending him for his persistent fight against inequality, while criticizing Hillary as a Johnny-come-lately to the issue. Not only is Joe Biden a heartbeat away from the Oval Office, he’s a major Democratic power broker, and despite his reputation for a freewheeling tongue, he knows that every word he says will be recorded and analyzed; his bestowing of favor upon Sanders marks a distinct shifting of the winds in the Democratic Party.

That said, Hillary still has caverns filled with cash, battalions of muckraking minions, along with the corporate ogres on her side, who are the real gatekeepers to power. She still leads massively in South Carolina (along with the rest of Dixie), though early defeats could shake up those numbers in a jiffy. Her campaign has also kept its distance from Sanders up until now, treating him as an amusing, half-senile uncle that is not to be taken seriously. But now she’s beginning to co-opt his issues that play well (no doubt triple focus group engineered) while at the same time digging up dirt and flinging shit.

Will Bernie steal Iowa and New Hampshire right out of the gate? We have a little over two weeks until things kick off, but the mood online, at least, gives him the edge. This may be the year where actual democracy triumphs in the race for the Democratic nomination, where substance, issues, and integrity win out over dynasty, money, and raw power.

The general election is a whole other movie, however. If Bernie Sanders does manage to snag the nod from the Democratic Party, he will face a sulfurous Hellmouth of fear-mongering, smears, and red-baiting from a moneyed class so determined to keep him out of the White House that their zeal will resemble blood lust. It will be ugly, and worst of all, it could work.

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6 thoughts on “Surging Bernie

  1. George Khoury on said:

    A scenario: He takes Iowa, N.H, and the Democratic nod, his campaign will receive massive attention from the center/center right and more. I can already see that playing out in social media. If that trend continues into mass diffusion his campaign will smoke out the most anti-rational voices creating a negative reciprocating cycle of distancing by the newly creating lines of moderate, working in dynamism with the alienation of the political illiterate, and so on.

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    • I hope you’re right, but I see right wing forces who will just repeat the mantra ‘SOCIALIST! SOCIALIST! SOCIALIST!’ until enough unsophisticated voters are convinced that he is Jose Stalin incarnate. Up through now, the right hasn’t even seriously considered him as a candidate. Once they view him as a threat they’re going to come after him with knives out. And you thought Swift Boating was bad?

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  2. one thought I had is that if we accept that to some degree people are strategic voters…early success by Trump, or even Cruz, may make leftist-pragmatists who want to win at all costs (i.e. holding their nose and pulling the lever for HRC) more willing to support Sanders, seeing his general election chances as vastly improved. If Marco Rubio or another GOP candidate able to cloak their awful policies in the form of non-insane human, HRC may reemerge as the the safest barrier to armageddon.

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    • Hillary surviving as a some kind of bulkhead against GOP crazy is a very possible scenario. If it comes down between her and any moron from the Clown Car, I’ll hold my nose and check that box next to her name.

      I don’t hate Hillary. She’s bright and extremely competent and I don’t doubt that she would lend a steady hand to the helm if she becomes president. But it will be business as usual as far as corporate dominance, militarism, and inequality are concerned. She will do nothing to alter the status quo, which, in my mind at least, needs some serious altering. Bernie could enact some terrific social programs and break up the banks. He could be the greatest social president since FDR, providing he has at least one friendly house of Congress, which is a big if. Still, it’s worth the effort to try and get him elected, though I do fear he could be too dovish in his foreign policy. I am no hawk but I also remember the Carter years, and there are times when the US needs to back up its words with action.

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  3. Sanders needs to win Iowa and/or New Hampshire. Clinton can afford to lose them both. She’s well enough ahead in the other states to take a hit there, but Sanders is a goner if he fumbles in the early states.

    Clinton’s plan right now is to make the race about gun control, and with growing liberal frustration with national gun policy, it could work to her advantage.

    http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/11/opinions/fulton-gun-violence/index.html

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  4. I agree with your electoral assessment, though I think that Hillary’s support elsewhere could quickly erode if Sanders beats her early. Polling results shift according to the national mood.

    I’m not sure if Hillary is making the whole race about gun control. She’s just hitting Bernie there because she thinks he’s vulnerable on that issue.

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