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Reports Of Sanders Campaign’s Death Were Over-Exaggerated

Establishment media pundits, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and those who support her conjured a narrative that the campaign for Bernie Sanders was in a nosedive. However, voters in Indiana defied this narrative and Sanders pulled off a stunning victory over Clinton.

“The Clinton campaign thinks this campaign is over. They’re wrong,” Sanders said in a statement released after he won. “Maybe it’s over for the insiders and the party establishment, but the voters in Indiana had a different idea. The campaign wasn’t over for them. It isn’t over for the voters in West Virginia. It isn’t over for Democrats in Oregon, New Jersey, and Kentucky. It isn’t over for voters in California, and all the other states with contests still to come.”

Sanders pressed this point further and urged Clinton to agree to a debate in California before the state holds its primary on June 7.

Five Thirty Eight’s Nate Silver predicted Clinton had a 90 percent chance of winning Indiana, where 83 pledged delegates were up for grabs. Yet, emblematic of the establishment media, POLITICO’s Glenn Thrush and The Washington Post’s Chris Cilizza immediately asserted the outcome in the primary didn’t matter.

During a late-night CNN interview after the victory, Dana Bash advanced what will surely be a major Democratic Party establishment talking point going forward. She noted Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee because he won Indiana and Ted Cruz dropped out. “Staying in the race, aren’t you effectively making it harder for the Democrats to beat, who you say would be so bad?” Bash asked, to which Sanders reacted, “Well, you’ve already conceded the race for me, and I don’t accept that concession.”

The win provided the Sanders campaign with much-needed momentum. It helped restore morale among supporters, who worried Sanders might no longer be able to win after he lost New York and only won one of the five primaries on April 26. It enabled a new round of small dollar donations from thousands of supporters, which could ensure the campaign remains strong until the final primary in June.

In other words, the victory matters but not to the establishment news media, who carry themselves with a ginormous amount of hubris—the same hubris which led them to declare Trump would never win the Republican nomination. And the establishment news media collectively justifies this belief that Sanders will never in a million years defeat Clinton and win the Democratic nomination by misconstruing developments in the Sanders campaign to prove it’s over.

After significant losses on April 26, the New York Times, CNN, and other outlets reported the Sanders campaign was “downsizing” and “laying off workers.” It created the perception Sanders was some kind of hypocrite, as he was firing workers just like the very greedy corporate executives he has raged against during his campaign. It also suggested the campaign was in some sort of free fall. But the press release from the Sanders campaign made it clear, “We no longer require many of the loyal and dedicated state and national support staffers who helped us in places like New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and other states where the nominating contests have been completed.”

Or, as campaign manager Jeff Weaver put it, “The calendar is coming closer to the end and there are not that many states going forward,” and, “It’s the natural evolution of every campaign.”

Fundraising totals were released for April. As the New York Times Editorial Board reacted, “The plunge in Mr. Sanders’s latest fundraising numbers makes clear what he doesn’t yet want to say.” The patronizing statement could not have been more misleading. Sanders raised $25.8 million. Clinton raised $26.4 million. Sanders’ fundraising was down from a record $44 million in March, but nearly $26 million is still a significant amount of money for a presidential campaign.

What no media outlets bothered to point out is that Clinton raised less money than she did in March. Her fundraising has steadily decreased since February, despite the fact that the establishment news media has anointed her the presumptive Democratic nominee. Not to mention, the Clinton campaign appears to be engaged in some kind of money laundering scheme, where one of the campaign’s super PACs, the Hillary Victory Fund, moves money through state Democratic parties to the Democratic National Committee and undermines campaign finance regulations.

There were extreme levels of bluster and consternation as Sanders stated, on the one-year anniversary of his campaign, that he would keep fighting to win and contest the primary in July.

“At this point, it’s as if Sanders is determined to validate everything liberal skeptics have been saying all along about his unwillingness to face reality—and all of it for, maybe, a few weeks of additional fundraising, at the expense of any future credibility and goodwill. Isn’t there anyone who can tell him to stop before it’s too late?” Paul Krugman of the New York Times asked.

On MSNBC, Rachel Maddow used her show to deliver a glib monologue, where she scoffed at the notion that Sanders will “contest the contest.” She said President Barack Obama did not clinch the nomination in 2008. He did not have enough pledged delegates. He needed the superdelegates to put him over. Yet, Clinton did not contest the primary. She made it clear that Obama had won “fair and square.”

Maddow noted Clinton currently has a wider pledged delegate lead than Obama did in 2008. Still, Sanders plans to try and flip superdelegates at the convention. “It is honestly fantastical, which is not the same as fantastic,” Maddow disdainfully concluded.

However, this is not much of an argument at all. Because Clinton stepped aside for Obama to claim the nomination does not necessarily mean in this race, and two presidential elections later, Sanders should do the same. There are different dynamics at play, especially the fact that Sanders has won about 45 percent of the popular vote but currently has only 6 percent of superdelegates because the Democratic Party establishment so overwhelmingly supports Clinton, regardless of whether the states they hail from do or not.

Looking ahead, primaries in Guam, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oregon will take place in May. Sanders could potentially put together landslide victories in those contests.

Clinton currently has 1,704 pledged delegates while Sanders has 1,414 pledged delegates. She will not win enough pledged delegates to clinch the nomination, but because she has 2,202 delegate votes when superdelegates are included, after the primaries on June 7, the establishment news media will almost certainly report that she has “clinched,” even though superdelegates should not matter until they vote at the convention.

Once again, the media never believed the Sanders campaign was anything more than a longshot campaign. There were resounding calls after losses in the March 15 primaries to drop out of the race. The media increasingly views Sanders as childish for prolonging the primary race, and on top of that, they passive-aggressively act like fighting all the way to the convention will undermine his “legacy,” as if all he cares about is how people remember how he changed the Democratic Party in 2016.

However, there is much more at stake than Bernie Sanders’ legacy. Voters are in the throes of a two-party system, which seems destined to be between two oligarchic and deeply unpopular personalities in the general election. Clinton and the wider Democratic Party establishment will hammer away at how Americans should fear Trump for the next six months. The only way that changes is if Sanders keeps fighting and his campaign defeats the most powerful figure in the Democratic Party in July. That is the only way the general election remains focused on issues of great importance to Americans, like campaign finance reform, greed on Wall Street, destructive trade agreements, poverty, climate change, etc. Otherwise, the general election will be mostly devoid of substantive discussion on issues and instead focused on some of the slimiest and filthiest character assassinations in U.S. political history.

Which is probably what Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein hopes happens. A general election with 24/7 coverage of sleazy misogynistic attacks from Trump is better than a general election where a democratic socialist constantly calls for big banks to be broken up, for the rich to pay its fair share of taxes, and for paid speech transcripts showing the extent of the cozy relationship between bank executives and government. That kind of general election will put an end to the “dangerous” rhetoric, which has corporate executives like Blankfein so afraid.

Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a campaign rally at Fountain Park in Fountain Hills, Arizona. (Composite image; Donald Trump photo by Gage Skidmore on Flickr).
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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."