Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

US Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton smiles as she walks past fellow candidate Bernie Sanders during a break of the Democratic Presidential Debate hosted by ABC News at the Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, on December 19, 2015. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images/Jewel Samad)

Why Bernie Sanders Deserves More Attention Than Hillary Clinton

Lane Filler

Have the media stopped feeling “the Bern”? Or has the Democratic Party, which should probably be renamed the Clintoncratic National Committee, extinguished the fire?

It’s both.

Sen. Bernie Sanders deserves far more attention than he’s getting. The 74-year-old frowzy-haired Democratic Socialist from Brooklyn by way of Vermont raised $33 million in the fourth quarter of 2015. That’s just $4 million less than Hillary Clinton.

People vote with dollars, as any tearful hater of money in politics will tell you. When it comes to Sanders, lots of folks throw in small amounts of cash. So when he raises $33 million in three months, it means a lot of people care.

Beyond the fundraising, poll numbers in early primary states justify a much brighter spotlight on Sanders than the media shine.

According to the Real Clear Politics poll average, Clinton is beating Sanders by 50 percent to 37 percent in Iowa. But he’s investing huge resources there, and in caucuses, it’s passion that brings people out. Clinton inspires passion among more Republicans than supporters.

And Sanders is beating Clinton in New Hampshire, 49-45. New Hampshire borders Vermont and residents know Sanders. But the states are political opposites, so his support there is not without meaning.

So why have the media not maintained a focus on Sanders? I think it’s partly because he’s been consistent in his beliefs for four decades in political life and in his appearances on the trail. That’s commendable. It’s even presidential. But the sixth story or column about Sanders’ support for more and bigger social programs, much higher taxes on the rich, fewer wars, more environmental regulation, and health care and education for all is going to read a lot like the first. Even yesterday’s announcement that he would break up Wall Street was right in line with past proclamations.

With Donald Trump, on the other hand, you get constant shifts in topics. You never really know which ethnic group he’s going to hammer, or what genital slang he’s going to invent or which candidate or media member he’s going to accuse of horrifying shortcomings. The other Republicans, too, are exciting in a sort of “Survivor: Iowa” way.

And the media never know exactly what Clinton is going to support, at least not until she’s seen the morning polls. Whether it’s an oil pipeline, a trade agreement, attacks on other nations or big contributions from Wall Street, she’s willing to be for or against. The slogan would best read: “Hillary: She believes what you believe . . . today.”

And she and her husband are exerting extraordinary control over the party. That’s why the Democrats are having so few debates, and at such odd times. They don’t want Sanders to publicize the fact that he plans to fight for all the stuff Democratic voters have wanted since the 1960s, and Clinton, thanks to “pragmatism,” won’t.

I’m not a Democrat. Much of what Sanders believes hurts my head. But I love him on liberties and peace and justice, and I admire his consistency.

Sanders is a U.S. senator raising tons of money, competing strongly in Iowa, leading in New Hampshire, gaining ground in South Carolina.

He is being stymied by a shallow media take on the Democrats and a party establishment fully committed to a candidate, in Clinton, who would likely be a decent manager of the nation but has huge likability problems and no identifiable moral center.

Clinton’s attempt to control the process is understandable. But the party’s willingness to go along is foolish. And the media’s complicity is shameful.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Lane Filler

Lane Filler is a member of the Newsday editorial board.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Bloodbath': At Least 6 Dead, Dozens Wounded in Mass Shooting at Illinois July 4th Parade

"What freedom do we have if we fear being gunned down at a parade?" asked one progressive politician horrified by the reported carnage.

Brett Wilkins ·

On This July 4th, Abortion Rights Movement Says 'We're Not in the Mood for Fireworks'

"If we don’t have the ability to make decisions about if, when, and how to grow our families—we don't have freedom."

Brett Wilkins ·

Deadly Glacier Collapse in Italy 'Linked Directly to Climate Change'

At least seven people were killed when a glacier slid down a mountainside near a popular climbing route in the Alps on Sunday.

Julia Conley ·

'Organized Whitewash': US Claims Israeli Military's Murder of Journalist Not Intentional

"The odds that those responsible for the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh will be held to account are all but nonexistent," said the human rights group B'Tselem in response to findings of U.S. State Department.

Brett Wilkins ·

Hundreds March in Akron Enraged by Police Killing of Jayland Walker

"The police can do whatever they want," said one local resident through tears. "They can take our children's lives and think it's okay."

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo