Written by Dominica R. Convertino
Immediately following the New York Primary election on Tuesday, mainstream media outlets have flooded the news cycle with headlines calling (once again) for Bernie Sanders to drop out of the race. Of course, this is an absurd proposition, especially considering the fact that Bernie Sanders has still won 8 out of the last 9 primary and caucus elections on the Democratic side.* Though Sanders and his voters were undoubtedly hoping for another big upset in New York, political observers and party insiders have always known that New York was Hillary Clinton’s to lose (due to the fact that she served two terms as Senator of New York). While a loss for Clinton would have been a devastating blow to the notion of her “inevitability” as the Party’s nominee, a loss for Sanders was always expected in New York. As a result of New York’s strict party registration laws, more than 3 million Independents were excluded from voting in the state’s closed primary on Tuesday. Considering the fact that an overwhelming number of said independents would have voted for Sanders, he still managed to outperform his expectations in New York. Despite this, a very curious trend in this Democratic election cycle continues, where both powerful mainstream media organizations and the leadership of the Democratic Party endlessly attempt to delegitimatize the very-real movement to which Bernie Sanders has given a national voice.
What the Democratic Party seems to be missing is this: This movement is not just about Bernie Sanders; this movement is about affecting real change. Biased headlines and unfounded political attacks cannot undue this movement, for this movement did not come to fruition in spite of rampant political corruption, this movement is a direct response to said political corruption. Sanders’ supporters are perhaps the most passionate of any voters this election cycle, as they recognize a fundamental truth: the current status-quo represents and maintains the intersection of the worst forms of corruption. Moreover, whether it be political, financial, economic, racial, environmental, or social corruption, it can be deduced to one common root: corporate money in politics.
With political efficacy on a steady decline, the American people are beginning to recognize that public policy considerations are no longer made with the public’s interests in mind. Instead, policies are almost-exclusively formulated, by both Democrats and Republicans, based on the interests of their corporate donors, who ensure the election and re-election of our public officials, while granting politicians high-level industry positions and overpaid consulting/speaking fees once they leave public office (a phenomenon known as “the revolving door”). Knowing that this seemingly-indomitable system of corruption plagues our nation, Sanders’ supporters see this election as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to significantly alter the bleak path we are currently headed towards. With unfettered income and racial inequality, global climate change, perpetual wars, and crippling healthcare and educational costs, this year’s presidential election will have lasting implications not just for the United States, but for the world at large.
Additionally, while a significant block of Sanders’ supporters are Independents and party-outsiders (a huge strength in terms of electability in the general election — considering the fact that roughly 42% of Americans identify as Independents), the mainstream media continuously undermines the fact that most of Sanders’ supporters are loyal Democratic voters. By consistently insulting these Democrats for their support of Sanders and his message against the corrupt political/financial system, the party is sending a very clear message: the Democratic Party is no longer the party of the people. This truth should be of pressing concern to the Democratic Party, as they are poised (should Hillary Clinton become the nominee) to not only lose the support of millions of Americans who do not vote based on our binary party system, but they are also on the path to lose millions of Americans who otherwise consider themselves staunch Democrats.
In recent weeks leading up to the primary in New York, Hillary Clinton and her surrogates expressed systematic contempt for Sanders and his movement towards creating a better, more progressive (and frankly, more democratic) Democratic party. By doing so, they have not only offended a core constituency of the Democratic party (prompting many Progressives to completely reject the possibility of supporting Clinton in the general election), but they have also discounted millions of Independents (including Civil Libertarians, Green Party voters, new voters, etc.) who could potentially lead to the revitalization of the Democratic Party under a Sanders Presidency.
Not only has the the Democratic Party establishment effectively alienated millions of Independents, but they have also repeatedly demeaned millennial voters: a necessary constituency for the future viability of the Democratic Party. If the Democratic Party establishment succeeds in its indefatigable attempt to maintain the existing status-quo, not only will it jeopardize the party’s success in this year’s general election, it could jeopardize the future of the Democratic Party altogether.
*The 8 out of the last 9 primary and caucus elections won by Bernie Sanders: (1) Democrats Abroad, (2) Idaho, (3) Utah, (4) Alaska, (5) Hawaii, (6) Washington, (7) Wisconsin, and (8) Wyoming.