“In a dark time,” poet Theodore Roethke wrote, “the eye begins to see.”
No matter who wins the Democratic presidential nomination, many millions of people will refuse to unsee what has become all too clear. On the verge of spring 2020, we can see what we’re up against:
•A crowing media establishment, eager to relegate the Bernie Sanders campaign to the political margins.
•A gloating Democratic Party establishment, glad to rally around Potemkin candidate Joe Biden and extol his carefully crafted façade.
•Overall, interlocking systems based on greed and corporate power instead of shared resources and genuine democracy.
On Tuesday night, there was no mistaking the smug joy of studio pundits and Democratic Party operatives on networks like AT&T-owned CNN and Comcast-owned MSNBC. Meanwhile, the New York Times rushed into print yet another all-out attack piece masquerading as a “news” article about Sanders.
Dominant media have routinely slanted coverage to make Sanders look bad, often bypassing context and skewing facts. It was just another day at the office last week when the Times front-paged a flagrant smear of Sanders as a supposed propaganda tool of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s. A former U.S. ambassador to Moscow quickly denounced the story as a “distortion of history.”
Such regular deceptions from a range of corporate media shouldn’t surprise us, but they should never cease to outrage us. The same is true of the rampant corporate sleaziness in the upper reaches of the Democratic National Committee.
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Corporate media and corporate Democrats want the Bernie 2020 campaign—and the grassroots energy behind it—to melt away. That’s not going to happen.
Movements that have been propelling the Sanders campaign are here for the long haul—as determined to keep fighting for social justice as top corporate executives are determined to keep collecting huge paychecks. (And that’s saying something.)
The chances of Bernie winning the nomination have sharply diminished, but it’s still possible. And no matter what: movements for basic social change and democracy will vitally persist with long-term struggles to wrest power out of the hands of oligarchs and their functionaries.
Candidates who rushed to endorse Biden after his big victory in South Carolina—Michael Bloomberg, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke, Kamala Harris, and Cory Booker—each personify, in their own way, what’s so corrosive about standard-issue Democratic Party leaders. Their backgrounds and personalities vary widely, but they share a political space of opportunism and ultra-coziness with corporate power. (Meanwhile, during the crucial aftermath of her withdrawal from the race after Super Tuesday, Elizabeth Warren shed new light on her political character when she decided not to endorse Sanders.)
The antidote to anti-democratic poisons has nothing to do with cynicism, passivity or defeatism. The solutions will come from realism, activism and ongoing insistence that a better world is possible—if we’re willing to keep fighting for it.