As conservative pundits wring their hands over the disaster that this primary season has been, a solid case is being built why a particular Democratic candidate should win the primary.
Blue collar voters on both sides of the political divide have trade and jobs as their foremost concern. There is no question that both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders owe their huge followings to concerns primarily on both of those fronts, aided by a significant amount of mistrust of establishment candidates for their parts in the bleeding of jobs and lack of a sound economic recovery.
Hillary Clinton’s very strong association as a chief advocate of Bill Clinton’s trade policies of the 1990’s, added to an unshakable association of the candidate with Wall Street money, all have earned Bernie Sanders a strong and unwavering following. Were she to win the Democratic nomination, will a portion of Democratic blue collar workers choose Trump over Clinton? There are no definitive answers as of yet, in great part due to the way polling and reporting are now being done, with a strong assumption that Clinton will prevail. But are those assumptions warranted at this point in time?
Over the last few months, only one Democrat has consistently beat out Donald J. Trump in head to head match-ups in a national election. Consistent with the generally-agreed view that voters, on both sides of the political divide, are decidedly anti-establishment and in no mood for compromises, there is only one such candidate on the left: Bernie Sanders.
Deseret News Poll, March, 2016
While honest and trustworthy may matter less in a contest between Democrats, how that translates in a national contest against a Republican, does matter more. With a GOP in disarray and talk of handing the nomination to someone other than the clear front-runner, or running an independent candidate, it is highly likely that whichever Democrat wins will be able to capitalize on the state of affairs and appeal to Republican voters.
That said, the decades-old antipathy factor against Hillary Clinton is confirmed by recent Utah polling shown in the graphic above. Moreover, Sanders also consistently polls as being the more trustworthy of the two Democrats left running:
ABC News January 2016
With the next tranche in the Democratic primary, more wins on the part of Bernie Sanders will further solidify the notion that the fat lady is indeed still sitting in the wings, gargling with honey and lemon. Contrary to what the media would still have voters believe, the Democratic primary is far from being decided. The media’s collective bent of deeming a Clinton win as a foregone conclusion is having the result of media pieces focusing on Trump-Clinton match-ups that do not include Sanders as a factor, except to mention that millenials who support Sanders hold the key to breaking a near-stalemate between the two. That factor is the key reason why Sanders has vowed to remain in the race until the Democratic convention; the very same reason why the media is committing malpractice by intentionally keeping that information out.
Media bias continues to be a huge problem and one must make mention of a recent post by the New York Times’ outgoing Public Editor, Margaret Sullivan, on what appears to be editorial misconduct on what seemed to be a positive piece on Bernie Sanders that, magically, became a negative one, right before Times readers’ eyes:
Updated, 10:54 a.m., to add new observations based on reader response.
Bernie Sanders supporters have been unhappy with The Times in recent months, but it looked as if they were beginning to have their moment in the sun on Monday morning.
An article by Jennifer Steinhauer, published online, carried the headline “Bernie Sanders Scored Victories for Years via Legislative Side Doors.” It described the way the Vermont senator had managed a significant number of legislative victories in Congress despite the political independence that might have hindered him.
The article stayed in essentially that form for several hours online – with some very minor tweaks — but in the late afternoon, Times editors made significant changes to its tone and content, turning it from almost glowing to somewhat disparaging. […]
Click here to read the rest on the New York Times.
This is but one instance of poor editorial judgment in a long line of ethical breaches at the Times, added to months of vocal complaints from the readership on the way Sanders has been covered both in the news and opinion sections. I will remind readers of my own published article in Alternet in September, which may have somewhat influenced Sullivan in finally addressing reader complaints.
The media has been focusing, for the most part, on the hand-wringing among notable Republican members of the pundit class, forgoing a robust discussion of the main reasons why Trump has managed to garner as huge a following as he has: trade and jobs.
In “Trump Didn’t Put the Con in Conservatism,” Paul Krugman writes:
“I wanted to note something about the reactions to the John Harwood interview with Paul Ryan, which are very relevant to understanding the Republican mess.
Liberals have been jumping, rightly, on Ryan’s extraordinary dismissal of any attempt to look at the distribution of tax cuts as “ridiculous.” But conservative writers — even those who are relatively moderate, or at least try to seem that way — clearly still view Ryan as an almost saintly figure: serious, intellectually honest, and compassionate toward the poor.
He isn’t, of course. His various budgets all have the same basic outline: huge tax cuts for the rich combined with savage cuts in benefits for the poor, with the net effect being to increase, not reduce the budget deficit.”
In “Donald Trump is counting on an anti-trade backlash that doesn’t appear to exist,” Matthew Yglesias writes:
Donald Trump offers largely orthodox conservative policy solutions on economic issues, with the important exception of trade. On the question of trade deals, Trump is offering a right-wing nationalist spin on a backlash against elite-led globalization that’s mostly been associated with the political left in the United States. Both Trump fans and, for separate reasons, labor union leaders would like you to believe that Trump could ride this growing tide of anti-trade sentiment all the way to the White House.
But Gallup historical data strongly suggests there isn’t a growing tide of anti-trade sentiment to ride:
The Yglesias piece, though based on Gallup polling, is exceedingly dishonest in that it runs completely counter to conventional wisdom and the realities of both the Trump and Sanders candidacies. Moreover, trade, as a concept, is an umbrella term to which a majority of people associate the loss of jobs to other nations. Who exactly is Yglesias trying to convince with that kind of writing? The same kind of people Krugman is, but at a more basic level, using more crude arguments.
These sorts of discussions of the issues around the dilemma Republicans find themselves in are very shallow, in the end. Why is the establishment being spurned by Republican voters? Why is Hillary Clinton being spurned by a rather large segment of Democratic leaning voters, in favor of Bernie Sanders? The answer should be rather simple but, for some odd reason, it isn’t being discussed in those terms.
Conservative pundits live in a bubble of their own, the same way pundits on the left live in a bubble they created. The difference between the two is that conservatives have come to the end of what they can do to keep the con going. The very people they’ve been conning no longer buy what they have to sell and Donald Trump very artfully found a way to repackage the con formula to his advantage. The idea of grabbing back all the loot Trump says the Chinese, Mexicans, Vietnamese, Japanese and others supposedly took from us is very alluring to jobless, underemployed, angry conservative members of the base. I am surprised that no pundit, on any side, has picked up on The Donald’s promise to install Carl Icahn as his trade negotiator, for example.
What we should be talking about is who took the loot and how trade agreements, in recent decades, have mainly benefited a certain circle of robber barons. Sound familiar? Yep! Bernie Sanders! Oh, and Bernie doesn’t talk about grab, grab, grab… This, among many other reasons, is why he resonates with so many, including conservatives voters who won’t vote for either Trump or Hillary and millions of Democrats who chose Bernie over Hillary in primaries which, by the way, we still are only halfway through. We need to talk about the things voters care about: the precarious situation so many are in that pundits stopped talking about, and how it gets better.
Unfortunately, for as long as the Democratic primary is ongoing and Bernie Sanders is in it, we are unlikely to have such an airing of the issues that underlie jobs and trade precisely because they are Hillary Clinton’s weakest talking points. In my recent piece on trade and jobs, I wrote:
“Because of the length, scope, and nature of the Great Recession, this nation’s economic pundits have had a central role not only in keeping the public calm and informed, but some have had influence over policy-makers at times when insufficient or wrong-headed policy ideas were being floated about. Six years into the Great Recession, the New York Times began shedding a number of its regular economic contributors (Joseph Stiglitz, Jared Bernstein, Bruce Bartlett, for example). At about that same time, Paul Krugman began to move away from macroeconomic analyses in his op-eds, choosing, instead, to focus on politics.
No longer were jobs reports the subject of attention. No longer was the bleeding of jobs overseas the subject of breaking news. The focus, instead, was on the wild successes of Obamacare and the addition of hundreds of thousands of jobs, culminating in the declaration that we are nearly at full employment. Very little has been expressly written to qualify the nature of the jobs added.
If one knew where to look and was able to decipher the economic jargon, then one could learn these facts about jobs and the employment picture in the US:
“In this post, we briefly explain some of the evidence that there’s far more labor market slack than is apparent from the unemployment rate alone.
The unemployment rate doesn’t capture workers who, because of a difficult job market, have stopped looking for work. The labor force participation rate – the share of the population that is either working or actively looking for work – dropped off sharply during the recession, from about 66 percent to about 63 percent. While some of those folks left for retirement, others–maybe a third to a half by some measures–can be enticed back into a more welcoming job market.
A number of prime-age workers (those between age 25 and age 54), for example, have dropped out of the picture. The figure below shows the employment-to-population ratio for workers in this age group. Notice the five-percentage-point plunge it took during the recession; while it has nudged back up to just over 77 percent, it is still three percentage points beneath its pre-recession level.”
The media is intentionally getting in the way of a robust debate of the candidates and it is not only hurting the democratic process, but it is aiding candidates like Donald Trump by marginalizing a candidate like Bernie Sanders, who, consistently, has demonstrated that his strengths are the relevant ones in a head to head match-up between the final Democratic and Republican candidates.
I can’t repeat it enough. The media is greatly remiss in its duties – to the point of unethical behavior.
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Voter turnout, 2012 vs. 2016, The Economist
Institute for Southern Studies