Bernie Sanders won a resounding victory in the Nevada primary caucuses with an overwhelming 46 percent of the vote. The rest of the field vied for the second place with 19 percent, 15 percent and 10 percent to Biden, Buttigieg and Warren.
Sanders was baited by other candidates about his ability to win in a diverse state. But his campaign built a strong, dynamic, growing movement of working class people of all nationalities. Bernie won 54 percent of the Latino vote, with the next candidate, Joe Biden getting only 14 percent. He has also narrowed Biden’s lead with African-American voters, when polls had Sanders far behind only weeks ago.
Yet this very success has alarmed the top echelons of the Democratic Party who, when presented with the most exciting candidate in over a generation, can’t take “Yes” for an answer. They are looking, not to the working class they claim to represent, but to the millionaires and billionaires they have always served faithfully, and who are deathly afraid that his electoral success may translate into a genuine working class movement.
The New York Times lamenting Bernie’s success, said Latino workers ”showed up to Desert Pines High School in Tío Bernie (Uncle Bernie) T-shirts to caucus on Saturday morning, motivated by the idea of free college tuition, Medicare for all and the man making those promises: a 78-year-old white senator from Vermont. To dozens of mostly working-class Latinos, Bernie Sanders seemed like one of their own, a child of immigrants who understands what it means to be seen as a perpetual outsider.”
The Times reluctantly admitted, “Only Mr. Sanders, with his uncompromising message that working-class Americans affected by injustice can unite across ethnic identity, has shown traction in both predominantly white Iowa and New Hampshire and the more black and brown Nevada.”
Sanders even popular among those voting for his rivals
“Among ordinary Democrats, Sanders is strikingly popular, even with voters who favor his rivals. He sparks less opposition—in some cases far less—than his major competitors. On paper, he appears well positioned to unify the party should he win its presidential nomination, ” said The Atlantic.
The more Sanders’ movement grows, the more the other candidates attack him. “His 2020 rivals…. have failed to halt his momentum, concluding that attacks only fan the passions of his liberal base…. They see no clear way to dent his Teflon image.”
“In 30-plus years of politics, I’ve never seen this level of doom. I’ve never had a day with so many people texting, emailing, calling me with so much doom and gloom,” said Matt Bennett of the center-left group Third Way after Sanders’s win in Nevada.
They are deathly afraid, not that Sanders won’t beat Trump in the general election, but that he will. They are very used to making false promises to the Democratic electorate to get their votes, so, when faced with a candidate with a consistent track record on working class issues who calls out the billionaires, they are alarmed.
Bad week for billionaires
Two billionaires have tried to weigh in with their money. Michael Bloomberg has spent over $400 million of his own money to stop Sanders. But at the debates Bloomberg was exposed for his continued opposition to raising the minimum wage. He couldn’t hide his contempt for the more than 40 women who complained about his sexual harassment and who were forced to sign nondisclosure agreements; three days later he said he would allow three women out of their agreement. How impressive is that? The very thought that allowing three out of 40 women out of their nondisclosure agreements would impress anyone is revealing.
Tom Steyer, who has spent almost $50 million of his own money to complain about the “bought politicians in Washington” (really?) said he would “shock the world in Nevada.”
James Carville, a top Democratic strategist, weighed in, describing those who think Sanders can beat Donald Trump in the election as “stupid.” He added, “those who think by expanding the electorate, increasing turnouts, you can win elections, is the equivalent of climate denying.”
Not to be outdone, MSNBC’s commentator Chris Matthews compared Sanders’ victory in the Nevada primary to “the Nazi invasion of France,” comparing Sanders’ supporters to Hitler’s Nazi militia. Is it possible that Matthews didn’t know that Bernie Sanders is Jewish, and lost many family members in the Nazi holocaust? Will they stop at nothing? Probably not.
Biden, Buttgieg agitate for ‘moderation,’ stir up lots of inertia
In a speech to supporters in Las Vegas, Buttigieg branded Sanders as the leader of an “an inflexible, ideological revolution that leaves out most Democrats, not to mention most Americans.” This didn’t help him much with votes. The Nevada results had Pete at 15 percent, a disappointing result for his 40 billionaire supporters.
Joe Biden attacked Sanders’ support for Medicare for all, claiming that it would never pass, and that his moderate proposal is “more realistic.” That’s running up the white flag before the battle even starts. The real issue isn’t so much private health care, it’s the billions of dollars in private profits made off the backs of the ill every quarter.
Russia helping Bernie?
In an open intervention in the election campaign, the FBI told Sanders that “Russia has been trying to intervene in the Democratic primaries to aid Senator Bernie Sanders.” This was echoed by Biden, who asserted that Russia is helping Sanders because they want him to lose. “We’re going to have more help from Vladimir Putin, who wants somebody he doesn’t think can beat Trump,”
However even the New York Times admitted that “Russia’s interference measures and their intensity remain murky even as intelligence officials sound alarms.”
Sanders’s response to this was unfortunate, warning Russia to “stay out of the elections.” If Sanders continues to take the bait on this issue, it will infect his campaign with a false issue, and lead to chauvinism. Blaming other countries is a dead end and inconsistent with the message of his campaign. Meanwhile, it’s the U.S. government that is well known for regime change, and interferes, or tries to interfere in virtually every election around the world, with threats of sanctions, bribery, tarriffs, withholding aid, and sometimes outright invasion.
Culinary union leadership out of touch with membership
The president of the Culinary Workers Union attacked Sanders’s Medicare for All plan. The union officialdom circulated a leaflet to each of its 60,000 members stating “that Senator Bernie Sanders’s Medicare for All plan would “end Culinary Healthcare.”
This argument mirrors the false Republican claims that Medicare for All ”would take away” union members’ health insurance. In response, Sanders issued a statement reiterating his long-time support of the Culinary Union in negotiations, and explaining that his Medicare for All plan would protect the current benefits enjoyed by workers with good union-negotiated health plans. He also explained that Medicare for All would ”reduce employer spending on health insurance by $9,000 per employee and raise taxes on the wealthy,”and not force workers to be dependent on their current job for health care.
The union leadership, however, knowing their membership’s support for Sanders, did not endorse any candidate. The membership seemed to agree with Sanders no matter the leadership’s position. “Across the Las Vegas strip, the pattern of culinary union members backing Sanders despite the conflict with leadership appeared to be repeating. In CNN’s caucus entrance poll, Sanders had the by far most support of any candidate amongst union members…”
Anti-communism a double-edged sword
Of course, all the candidates in one way or another bait Bernie Sanders as a “socialist” a “communist” and call him “un-American.” But despite this baiting, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll “Sanders enjoys widespread affection even outside his ideological lane.”
Carrie Barr of Iowa, a retired teacher and a non- supporter put it this way, “He’s too extreme. He’s a socialist and he’s not a supporter of Democratic politics.” She continued, “But everyone loves his ideas. I love his ideas.” (New York Times)
The establishment politicians and their billionaire backers fool themselves into thinking that all those who haven’t yet voted for Bernie are “moderate” and can’t possibly change their views or their votes.
What the ruling class fears most is change – change that endangers their unquenchable thirst for maximum profit. They are deathly afraid that an electoral movement could grow into a strong, fighting movement. Whatever happens in the electoral arena, the powers that be will keep fighting change, they will throw new attacks and new challenges to this growing movement.
This electoral movement is growing, reaching out to working class people across the country. And workers are waking up, and realizing that the excrement they smell originates on Wall St. By equating any progressive change – health care, increasing wages, expanding needed social services – with socialism, the establishment capitalist establishment is digging its own grave.