After Bernie Sanders’ first real display of weakness in Nevada, the media by and large was prepped to write the campaign’s obituary. There was none of the nuance of, say, FiveThirtyEight’s post-caucus analysis from the mainstream press, just an assurance that a loss in the Silver State meant it was time to write off the remaining 47. There had already been doomy assurances by the media after Sanders’ decisive win in New Hampshire, following his tie with Hillary Clinton in Iowa, before even a single vote had been cast, in fact. From the very start, the establishment narrative has been one of an inevitable Sanders demise and a roaring, unavoidable Clinton success.
Now, after South Carolina, it would seem reality is at last aligning with the view of the media commentariat: we are finally witnessing the beginning of the end of the Sanders campaign. With Sanders’ astonishing, near 50-point defeat in South Carolina, and with polls predicting he’ll lose in the majority of Super Tuesday states, it has become clear that Sanders is failing to connect with the wider electorate.
With more diverse appeal amongst Democrats than Bernie Sanders could ever dream of, Hillary Clinton is indeed now the favourite to run against the eventual Republican nominee in the summer. Here’s where the media narrative and reality once again begin to diverge, though. According to the pro-Dem mainstream press, America’s second President Clinton will be sitting in the White House early next year. It’s such a sure thing, they may as well call it now, because the GOP competition isn’t any competition at all. But do just a little fact-checking – mostly you have to look away from print, and turn online to ‘alternative’ media – and you discover this might not really be true.
According to the polls, Hillary Clinton has a remarkably high net unfavorability rating nationally, and it continues to rise steadily, as it has been doing for the past three years. The American people on the whole also find Clinton highly untrustworthy. Most worrying of all, though, is how Clinton is shown to fare in hypothetical match-ups with the GOP candidates. Polls show Clinton losing in an election to every single Republican still in the race except for Trump, with whom she’s almost tied. Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, would according to those same polls beat every Republican runner handily.
These are worrying statistics not just because it now seems very likely that Clinton will be the nominee, but because the Democratic establishment has always assured and still continues to assure Dem voters that Clinton’s presidency is inevitable, even though the evidence suggests otherwise. Worse, this Democratic establishment has failed to amply confront Clinton’s at-times dubious record, a record that the Republican establishment will happily start attacking as soon as her candidacy is confirmed.
For the most part, the pro-Dem mainstream media just won’t touch upon the more damning aspects of Clinton’s political past. Remember how Time and the Washington Post attempted to discredit Bernie Sanders’ Civil Rights record by disputing that he was ever even there? Note how the same press reporting that fake story never even touched upon Clinton’s background campaigning for segregationist Barry Goldwater or attempting to smear Barack Obama in 2008 as an ‘other’. Nor was the mainstream press prepared to bring to light Clinton’s past comments about “super-predators” and bringing people “to heel” until Black Lives Matter activists crashed one of her fundraisers.
That BLM mini-protest sparked the hashtag #WhichHillary, which briefly exploded last week before it suddenly disappeared from Twitter’s trending list. While it was active, though, #WhichHillary saw hundreds of thousands of Twitter users highlighting Clinton’s history of inconsistency and double standards. That the facts were so readily available and spread so quickly exposed a couple of worrying truths for the Democratic Party going forward: that Hillary Clinton’s background looks shaky under proper scrutiny, and that voters don’t always react favourably when they find out the truth.
With the mainstream media currently maintaining a firewall that largely rejects and/or ignores Clinton-based criticism, what will be the average voter reaction when the GOP establishment begins its assault and really puts Clinton’s shady weapons deals, Wall Street ties and numerous policy flip-flops in the spotlight? Make no mistake, this is exactly the kind of stuff that the establishment of the Right will be throwing at Clinton soon enough. That’s on top of the ongoing email controversy, which has prompted an FBI investigation, and a judge to threaten Clinton with a subpoena. To reiterate, Clinton is already predicted to lose to the GOP as it is, or – at best – tie with Trump.
So, with everything going against Hillary Clinton, why does the Democratic establishment continue to insist she’s the most electable candidate, when it’s so clearly such a risky prospect? Well, it’s hardly conspiratorial that Democratic superdelegates would side with Clinton, that people of wealth and influence would continue to publicly throw their support behind her, or that the pro-Dem media would largely be pro-Clinton. Clinton promises to continue where Obama left off, which is another way of saying she intends to maintain the status quo, a status quo that her backers would prefer wasn’t rocked by someone like Bernie Sanders.
The Democratic establishment doesn’t want a Democrat as president – it specifically wants Hillary Clinton as president. And so a myth has been concocted in a pro-Clinton environment, that Clinton is the ‘pragmatic’ choice, the one that you as a Democrat simply have to vote for if you want to beat the GOP. And when even the most ‘moderate’ of the Republican candidates, Marco Rubio, denies the existence of climate change, argues for the TPP, wants to scrap affordable care and opposes a woman’s right to decide what’s best for her own body, you’ll vote for any old Democrat if it keeps the White House out of Republican hands. That Dem voters are apparently largely stumping for Clinton, even though less than four in ten of them actually trust her, speaks volumes.
One could argue that Bernie Sanders would be more beneficial to the average voter and to the country on the whole than Clinton (and that has been argued, though experts still debate that), but the Democratic establishment’s main counter-argument has been that a vote for Bernie Sanders is also a vote for the GOP. Sanders is just less electable; vote Bernie, and you get Trump. Voters have been repeatedly told that, only that isn’t true. In actuality, Sanders at present has a clearer path to the White House than Clinton, who is struggling with a nationwide ‘trust deficit’ and is only going to face more battles as time goes on.
None of us can see into the future to know for sure whether Clinton will eventually bring round Sanders-stumping Dems and independents to beat the GOP in November. It is a plain fact, however, that Bernie Sanders has – according to statistics – for the past several months been the best bet for voters seeking a Democrat as the next president. Only the mainstream media didn’t shout too loudly about that. Right now, stumping for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary is a huge gamble, one that most voters won’t even be aware they’re making. Rest assured, though, that the Democratic establishment – the politicians, the press, the big-money donors – knows exactly what kind of game it’s playing. And it’s playing it so irresponsibly, it may as well be a suicide mission.