For many years, corporate media outlets said it couldn’t be done. Now, they say it must not be. To the nation’s punditocracy—tacitly or overtly aligned with the nation’s oligarchy—nominating Bernie Sanders as the Democratic presidential candidate would be catastrophic.
But the 17,000 people who jammed into the Los Angeles Convention Center to hear Sanders speak on Sunday night are part of a progressive populist upsurge that shows no sign of abating. What I saw at the rally was a multiracial, multigenerational coalition with dimensions that no other candidate can come near matching.
With scant support from people of color, the media-pumped campaign of Pete Buttigieg has ended and Amy Klobuchar’s candidacy is about to collapse. Tom Steyer’s self-financed escapade has folded. Despite his win in South Carolina, Joe Biden’s campaign is hollow with "back to the future" rhetoric. Mike Bloomberg—the quintessential "Not Us. Me." candidate—might soon discover that he can’t buy elections no matter how much money he plows into advertisements, endorsements and consultants.
As for Elizabeth Warren: after impressive seasons of articulating a challenge to corporate power last year, she has recently diluted her appeal with murky messages of "unity" while gratuitously sniping at Sanders. Looking ahead, it’s unclear whether Warren will renew her focus on denouncing the political leverage of wealth. Top Democratic Party power brokers don’t want her to. Before the end of spring, we’ll know whether "nevertheless, she persisted."
Meanwhile, media coverage remains saturated by the Sanders-can’t-beat-Trump mantra, but that claim is eroding. The New York Times—which, like other major outlets, has racked up a long record of thinly veiled hostility toward Sanders and has been amplifying the panicked alarms from top Democrats—recently published two cogent opinion pieces, "The Case for Bernie Sanders" and "Bernie Sanders Can Beat Trump. Here’s the Math."
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Even the Times news department, a bastion of hidebound corporate centrism, acknowledged days ago that Sanders "appeared to be making headway in persuading Democratic voters that he can win the general election. A Fox News poll released on Thursday showed about two-thirds of Democrats believe that Mr. Sanders could beat President Trump, the highest share of any candidate in the field."
But make no mistake about it: The bulk of powerful corporate media and entrenched corporate Democrats will do all they can to prevent the nominee from being Sanders. (I actively support him, while not affiliated with the official campaign.) More than ever, the current historic moment calls for a commensurate response: All left hands on deck.
A chant that filled the big hall in Los Angeles where Sanders spoke on Sunday night—"Sí, se puede"—came from a crowd that was perhaps half Latino. A coalition has emerged on the ground to topple longstanding political barriers of race, ethnicity, language and culture, with shared enthusiasm for the Bernie 2020 campaign that is stunning, deep and transcendent.
"Look around," said Marisa Franco, co-founder of the Latinx and Chicanx activist hub Mijente, during her powerful speech that introduced Sanders at the LA rally. "We are perched at the edge of history. There is so much at stake in the 2020 election. The world around us is bursting with problems and bursting with possibilities. And that’s making some people very very nervous. You know why? Because we’re winning."
Franco added: "Bernie Sanders presents the clearest alternative to Trump. He is willing to name the problems, what’s causing them, and proposes the bold solutions that we need to solve them. . . . We want—and we demand—elected officials who are going to fight like hell for us."