Election year politics has taken a back seat to the coronavirus news but Donald Trump of course sees everything in terms of how it will affect his re-election chances. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders has been active in pushing for more relief for ordinary people and not so much for big corporations. But as is often the case, in order to help the former, Republicans demand the latter and so compromises have been made.
Nathan J. Robinson writes that Bernie Sanders is the kind of leader the country needs right now at this time of crisis, not Joe Biden and definitely not Trump. While Biden has largely been quiet and when not has been wishy-washy and issuing platitudes, Sanders has been vigorously arguing for what needs to be done.
Meanwhile, I feel compelled to point out, Bernie Sanders has been doing something quite different. His campaign has pivoted to becoming a coronavirus relief effort. He raised $2 million from his supporters to fund coronavirus charities. He has savaged the president over Trump’s dangerous lies, holding nothing back. Sanders has seized the opportunity to fight hard to relieve the suffering of ordinary working people, supporting strikers who refuse to work in dangerous conditions, crusading against corporations that put their workers in danger, having supporters phone bank to organize mutual aid efforts, and doing regular livestreamed events to speak to the public about what is happening and what we can do. With the Sanders campaign’s ability to hold rallies and knock on doors eliminated by the crisis, much of this necessarily takes place online, but Sanders has long had a formidable digital operation well primed for the moment. Biden’s team have excused his inaction in part by saying that it’s because he doesn’t currently hold office and has no formal authority. But none of this stuff requires a title.
However, Bernie has also been using his position in the Senate to help. When Republican senators tried to stop a critical unemployment measure in the relief bill, Sanders took to the floor of the senate to denounce their opposition. (Worth noting that as a member of the vulnerable age group, Sanders probably should not be hanging around the virus-ridden senate, but he’s got priorities.) To the Republican fear that some unemployed workers might earn $600 more a month in unemployment benefits than they had at their badly underpaid jobs, Sanders thundered “How absurd and wrong is that? What kind of value system is that?”
bernie sanders is 78. he should be self-isolating.
he's not. he's fighting till his last breath for us. like we expect him to. like anyone who know this man would expect him to.
what a human beingpic.twitter.com/aJd6bAkHVn
— Aisha Ahmad (@aishaismad) March 26, 2020
Standing alone, he threatened to block the entire bill unless the Republicans gave in. They folded. The unemployment benefits stayed. Poor people will get more money thanks to Sanders, and we now see headlines like “Why Everyone Is Thanking Bernie Sanders Right Now—Even His Critics.” So much for those saying Sanders can’t “get anything through the Senate.” In fact, as has been true his entire career but has simply been ignored, Sanders is a pragmatic legislator who gets things done. They call him “the Amendment King” for a reason.
One of the notable features of Democratic party politics is how the mainstream media covers Sanders. Dan Froomkin explains why there is such a pervasive and even vitriolic anti-Sanders bias in those venues and why they are so anxious for him to leave the stage
Bernie Sanders has always made elite political journalists uncomfortable, on a deeply personal level.
When Sanders rails against the corporate-friendly status quo, it rubs them the wrong way. Accepting the status quo as fundamentally reasonable is a prerequisite for succeeding in modern mainstream political journalism. Anything else makes you an “activist.”
When Sanders says that accepting corporate money is corrupting, they feel attacked. It’s not just that most of their paychecks come from giant corporations, it’s that their Washington is awash with corporate money. It funds their spouses and their friends. It buys them drinks.
When Sanders speaks in moral absolutes and refuses to compromise on core values, they respond with contempt at his inflexibility — because they feel remorse over their own moral flexibility.
That Sanders built a major political campaign funded by millions of individual contributions and without lavish fundraisers; that he built a cross-generational, multi-ethnic, socioeconomically diverse movement that will have lasting impact even if he doesn’t win the Democratic nomination – that makes them feel stupid. Because they said it couldn’t be done.
They don’t hate him because their corporate masters tell them to. They hate him because he is a walking, breathing, sometimes yelling reproof of the sacrifices they have had to make to succeed in their chosen profession.
Froomkin also savages those journalists who try to portray Sanders and Trump as two sides of the same coin.
Creating any kind of moral equivalence between Trump and Sanders is grotesque. An arguably inapt description of both as “populist” aside, there is simply no equivalence when it comes to sincerity, honesty and whether the candidates appeal to people’s better or worse natures.
He says that when Sanders critiques the media and their corporate owners as siding with the rich and powerful and against the poor and weak, and uses quotes from legendary newsman Joseph Pulitzer against them, it hits too close to home for their comfort. Here is what Sanders said.
Real journalism, in the words of Joseph Pulitzer, is the painstaking reporting that will “fight for progress and reform, never tolerate injustice or corruption, [and] always fight demagogues.” Pulitzer said that journalism must always “oppose privileged classes and public plunderers, never lack sympathy with the poor, always remain devoted to the public welfare, never be satisfied with merely printing news, always be drastically independent, never be afraid to attack wrong, whether by predatory plutocracy or predatory poverty.”
Sanders went on to attack the media for focusing on trivia and gossip because the corporate owners do not want a public discussion of the important issues such as climate change or health care or poverty or inequality.
Sanders is right about every bit of that, and most political journalists know it.
But they really don’t like it being thrown in their faces.
Sanders is holding up a mirror to these journalists and showing them what ideals they used to have when they were young, before they started to compromise or even completely sell out, while he stayed true to those ideals, showing them what they could and should be but are not. He is like a ghost from their past that pricks their consciences. He says that this is why they are s anxious to see the last of Sanders.