The Democratic Party’s moneyed and political establishment — backed by a screeching chorus of corporate media voices — is gloating that they’ve successfully ganged up to demonize Bernie Sanders, deify Joe Biden, and derail America’s youth-led progressive movement.
While the old-line establishment has now twisted the Democrats’ presidential nominating contest to its advantage, 1) Sanders retains his enormous political integrity and popularity; 2) Biden remains woefully short of divine; 3) and especially noteworthy — the people’s support for enacting transformative progressive policies continues to surge. In short, Biden has won the most political delegates in recent weeks, but Sanders has clearly won the policy fight, with people overwhelmingly favoring his Big Change agenda over the go-slow, don’t-rock-the-corporate-boat minimalism being pushed by Biden and his forces of the status quo.
But there’s a short-circuit in the political convictions of some progressive-minded voters.
While big majorities are making clear that they need and want bold, transformative changes in today’s rigged system, many of them are not voting that way in this year’s Democratic presidential primary elections. After 30 years of being knocked down and held down, nearly a majority of Americans now say our corporate-controlled economy needs “a complete overhaul” — yet “Go-slow-Joe” Biden, who supports only small, incremental tinkering with the corporate system, is getting many of their votes. Why?
One factor is the constant drumbeat by the mass media and the Democratic Party establishment that the progressive agenda is too radical, too hot… too democratic!
[pullquote-1] Take just one of Bernie’s big proposals: Medicare for All. The corporate profiteers in today’s health care system (which back Biden financially and, in turn, are backed politically by him) claim in a PR campaign that replacing the current immoral system with Sanders’ plan for a health system that fully covers everyone in America for far less money than we now shell out is “radical.” Biden himself proclaimed that even Democrats were scared by Bernie’s idea that top-quality health care is a universal right, not a privilege for the few.
They lie that while you might want strong progressive change, most do not, so Trump will win if you vote your true beliefs. This is just establishment fearmongering, pitting you against neighbors who actually agree with you. But it spreads a crisis of confidence in one’s own convictions.
A second big factor is the subliminal pall of political pessimism that 30-plus years of elitism, inequality and unfairness have cast over our democracy. There’s a widespread sense (especially among young people) that transformative political change can’t happen. After all, folks constantly see Big Money, corporate lobbyists, right-wing Republicans and weak-kneed Democrats combine to stiff the people’s will.
So the great challenge for the long-term progressive movement is not to convince a majority of people that our ideas and candidates are right for them. They already agree with that. Rather, the need is to defeat the debilitating force of cynicism by educating, organizing and mobilizing around the myriad of everyday examples of grassroots people battling the bastards… and winning!