By Megan Gramlich
The traditional news media has been depicting Sen. Sanders as a marginalized candidate, even as his poll numbers have been surging. Rather than closely examining Sanders’ positions on issues, the media oftentimes uses weak arguments in an effort to disregard the senator as an illegitimate contender for the White House. Typically, these arguments focus on the fact that Sanders is a self-described Democratic Socialist. However, even if many individuals do not like — or even understand — the term “Democratic Socialist,” it is clear that Sanders’ policy positions appeal to voters. This is made clear by the fact that he is catching up to Secretary Clinton’s money lead and the fact that Sanders dominated Google and social media platforms during the debate.
Many pundits claimed that Clinton won the debate. On the contrary, Sanders conveyed a message that appeals much more to Democratic viewers. During the debate, Sanders demonstrated his true commitment to fighting income inequality and the corrupt campaign finance system. Sanders’ core message attracts progressives who want to restore democracy by ensuring that the interests of all citizens, not just the interests of the wealthy, are represented in Washington. Sanders argues that, in order to attain this goal, we must repeal Citizens United, a Supreme Court case that allows millionaires and billionaires to have an undue influence on the political process. Furthermore, Sanders asserts that it is morally imperative that the government ensures that the economy does not hinder the working class, and that the government guarantees citizens access to basic needs, including nutrition, healthcare, and college education. Sanders also stresses the importance of addressing climate change, fighting for LGBTQIA rights, fighting institutional racism, reforming the criminal justice system, and staying out of foreign entanglements unless the nation is directly threatened. While some may depict Sanders as a “radical” Socialist, the senator’s values align with the values of Democratic voters.
It may be true that Clinton agrees with Sanders on many of the aforementioned issues, but it is becoming increasingly clear that Clinton is not truly an authentic progressive. She denounces the disastrous Citizens United case, yet benefits from gaining campaign donations through her Super PAC. By contrast, consider Sanders’ response to a recent large donation to his campaign. Pharmaceutical CEO Martin Shkreli, who recently gained infamy when he increased the price of an AIDS medication by more than 5,000 percent, donated $27,000 to Senator Sanders’ campaign and asked to meet with the presidential hopeful. Sanders declined and donated the money to a Washington health clinic. Through this action, Sanders demonstrated his commitment to denouncing big money’s influence on politics.
In addition to pursuing campaign finance strategies that are contrary to her purported values, Clinton also tried to falsely portray Sanders as weak on guns. Clinton, who asserted that “It’s time that the entire country stood up to the NRA,” later denounced Sanders’ call to compromise on national gun control legislation. In truth, Sanders is clearly supportive of strict background checks and bans on assault weapons, in addition to balancing concerns for public safety with individual liberties.
Even though Clinton attacked Sanders for supposedly not being tough enough on gun legislation, Clinton seems unconcerned with the dangers posed to American lives that would surely result from continued entanglement places like Syria. Sanders, by contrast, advocates using war only as a last resort. Sanders echoes the sentiments of many Democratic voters who don’t want to get involved in another unnecessary war.
Unlike Clinton, Sanders chooses a commitment to his values over political expediency. One of the most memorable moments of the Democratic Debate was when Sanders addressed Clinton’s email scandal, saying “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails.” Although one may argue that Sanders only made this comment to produce a great sound bite, the senator would have gained much more political leverage had he used the scandal against Clinton. Instead, Sanders kept his promise to focus on the most important issues instead of resorting to personal attacks.
Sanders’ popularity continues to grow as he gains recognition from Democratic voters. Further, he demonstrates a commitment to values that Secretary Clinton lacks. So why does the media continue its attempts to undermine such a promising candidate? The mainstream media is largely controlled by big money. Sanders is serious about lifting the cap on taxable income and implementing a tax on Wall Street in order to expand Social Security and fund tuition-free public education, respectively. Clearly, these positions do not align with the interests of corporate media. Thus, the very reason progressives should support Sanders over Clinton is the same reason why the corporate media is pushing Clinton for the Democratic nomination. For those of us who are serious about fighting big money’s overreaching influence on politics and solving the aforementioned social and economic issues, we progressives must continue to show our active support for Sanders on social media, where his influence remains strong.
Davis Political Review does not endorse any candidates or candidates’ campaigns. The opinion of this article reflects solely the opinion of its author.