The scant and mostly biased coverage of Bernie Sanders’ campaign seems to run the gamut from outright negative to dismissive with a very slim wedge of positivity at the far end. There is room for criticism even in the progressive media…
Before you read any further, here is some perspective from the group, Occupy Democrats:
Today, we read a piece in Salon by Matthew Pulver who, all at once, says that Bernie hasn’t spoken on race, is an unknown in the Black community, and then proceeds to list Sanders’ credentials in the Civil Rights movement, including membership in SNCC, and quotes liberally from Sanders’ major speech at a Wisconsin rally last week. The really strange part, though, is that he devotes the first two paragraphs to write about a “weakness on race” that is the imaginary weakness other publications have manufactured in recent weeks, in order to then make a case that Sanders’ purported liability could be turned into an asset.
So… which is Bernie? Remiss and unknown, or he’s been there all along even though he represents an almost all-white state but when he lived in Chicago and New York, he did more than most whites do in a lifetime? You can’t have it both ways and, yes, I realize articles must be written.
Time covered Bernie’s “The Radical Education of Bernie Sanders” in the Civil Rights movement:
In Chicago, Sanders threw himself into activism—civil rights, economic justice, volunteering, organizing. “I received more of an education off campus than I did in the classroom,” Sanders says. By his 23rd birthday, Sanders had worked for a meatpackers union, marched for civil rights in Washington D.C., joined the university socialists and been arrested at a civil rights demonstration. He delivered jeremiads to young crowds. The police called him an outside agitator, Sanders said. He was a sloppy student, and the dean asked him to take a year off. He inspired his classmates. “He knows how to talk to people now,” said Robin Kaufman, a student who knew Sanders in 1960s Chicago, “and he knew how to do it then.” He was a radical before it was cool.
The coverage at The Nation is decidedly schizophrenic with, I guess, John Nichols as the lone progressive who is putting out great pieces on Bernie and the rest of the paper pushing a piece on why a certain white neoliberal feminist will vote for Hillary.
The New York Times’ coverage has been unprofessional, to put it mildly… I wrote about it here a week ago. So far, no sign of changes in approach.
I suppose there’s always the Wikipedia, this entry in the Democratic Underground, and the Senator’s website, for those who want to know more. Hopefully, between Cornel West, Rev. Jesse Jackson and Sanders’ former fellow SNCC members, word will finally start getting out about his bona fides. Most important of all, though, is each and everyone of us listening to Bernie for ourselves. The video of his campaign speech in Madison, Wisconsin is included in its entirety here:
The truth about Bernie Sanders & race: Why his biggest weakness could become his greatest strength – Salon.com
Though he’s enjoyed unexpected success, Sanders has been criticized for not engaging in issues of race
Sanders’ weakness on race, though, is presented as in relation to frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s supposed superiority on racial issues. The narrative, however accurate, that Sanders is weak on speaking to racial matters requires that we assume Clinton to be attentive to issues affecting minority voters in a way that Sanders is not. A few speeches and poll numbers from June are scant evidence to build this burgeoning narrative to define the two dominant Democratic candidates.
A good place to start, rather than the last month and a half of primary campaigning, might be 1988, a pivotal point in the Democratic Party, which would lose the presidential contest that year and embark on two divergent paths.