Look up the name "Bernie Sanders" right now. If you're around the time this was written, perhaps the first thing you'll notice in the Google news section for Sanders is an abundant series of headlines attacking him. These articles typically focus on deceptive accusations against Sanders, like the notion that his owning three houses makes him a plutocrat (one of those houses is the one he's entitled to as a U.S. Senator, another is his main home, and the other is his summer cottage), or outright expressions of hostility towards him, like Steve King's melodramatically titled piece I never want to hear from Bernie Sanders again.
Dig a little deeper, and you'll find a sprawling genre of op-eds written this year putting down not just Sanders but those who support his goals. For instance, the infamous NBC news article from last month which had contempt and derision for Sanders' Democratic Party reform mission built into practically every sentence, or the more recent whopper of a piece which said Sanders doesn't deserve to involve himself in the party because he didn't win the primary last year (which would be an entirely legitimate argument if he hadn't actually won). And the influence of these efforts is visibly trickling down to the lower rungs of the Democratic establishment's propaganda effort, with party loyalists being observed to continue to be frequently saying online that Bernie Sanders shouldn't tell the Democrats what to do because he isn't one, that his supporters are Russian agents, etc.
The last time Sanders' detractors within the media establishment felt the need to go on this kind of offensive was at the height of his success in the primary race last year. But since then, according to the party loyalists, he's been defeated by nearly four million votes and his misogynist supporters have lost all legitimacy by electing Donald Trump (honestly, that's what they're claiming). So why have they found it worthwhile to put their anti-revolutionary media swat team back on duty? If Sanders and his followers are so inept and immature that they can't even win a primary, why not regard their recent childish efforts at so-called revolution as a laughable non-threat and focus more on rallying Americans behind the glorious coming holy war between America and the godless, tech savvy Ruskies?
The answer can be well understood by looking back on the following paragraph, written in a late April 2016 article by Tony Brasunas, which followed an assessment of Sanders' at that point nearly tied national poll numbers and recent epic snowballing of primary election momentum:
The Clinton campaign sees this too. They’re not idiots. They do have a 231-delegate lead, but they know Bernie is on the rise and that 1,401 delegates have yet to vote. They know that with every passing day his odds increase. They’re in a race against time to secure the nomination, so on any given day they howl for Bernie to get out of the race, to “tone it down,” to stop trying to actually win the nomination.Of course, after Brasunas titled that article Only Voter Suppression Can Stop Bernie Sanders, voter suppression managed to do just that, with Sanders-hurting efforts to reduce voter turnout or flip votes having occurred in the post-New York primary contests of Rhode Island, Indiana, the Nevada convention, Kentucky, Puerto Rico, and California. But while Sanders' movement went in many ways underground in the months between the primaries and the general election last year, it's since come back stronger than ever. Namely the enormous outpouring of activism from his supporters in recent months has been accompanied by unprecedented positive favorability ratings for Sanders, while the last three 2020 Democratic presidential primary polls put him as the theoretical frontrunner.
The difference between now and Sanders' situation a year ago, as the same people who were calling on Sanders to drop out at the time know, is that this game is far harder than the last one was for them to cheat in. Whether or not columnists like Steve King have mentally blocked out the saga of direct election rigging in last year's Democratic primaries, they no doubt know the playing here field isn't so unfair; in 2017, Bernie and his movement can't be swept into the political backstage with a series of electoral defeats that conclude in June. What the establishment faces now is a fluid and transferible presence of grassroots efforts to counter their agenda which mainly bases itself not just in electoral politics, but in efforts to build social movements and influence public policy on the civic level.
Of course the oligarchy has tried to sabotage us again on the electoral level, with the neoliberal leaders of the Florida Democratic Party having unfairly maintained control during their party chair election in January and the DNC and DCCC having sacrificed an important Democratic victory in Kansas this month just so that they could prevent one Berniecrat from gaining elected power. But in a year with not too many major elections, the political tug-of-war is won by who can earn the most public trust or provoke the most grassroots civic action. It's a war of ideas. And when it's come to that, the establishment has yet to win any round.
For instance, even the establishment's greatest supposed victory so far in the appointment of Tom Perez to the DNC chairmanship two months ago hasn't played much to its advantage. Perez' presence at he and Sanders' recent "Unity Tour" has done nothing but make Sanders look even better, and Perez' presence within the party overall has done nothing but make Sanders supporters resent the Democrats even more.
In other words, absent of a 2017 equivalent of Sanders' so-called loss in New York, the oligarchy is now experiencing something even more uncomfortable than what it went through this time last year. And once again, their attempts to get Sanders out of the picture-which in this case they're doing by saying he should stop trying to change the Democratic Party in parallel to them saying he should drop out of the race-are not going to work.
Sanders will not "tone it down" and stop saying necessary truths like "the model of the Democratic Party is failing." His supporters, more importantly, will not stop working to bring about (or rather continue) the enactment of a 21st century New Deal. And their prospects for becoming the new standard-bearers of American politics are looking better than ever, with Justice Democrats head Kyle Kulinski for one being confident Sandersists will sweep the 2018 elections.
Of course, it wouldn't be honest for me to declare the political tug-of-war will keep up its current dynamic of the oligarchy's efforts not being as great as those of the resistance. Already the Democratic establishment's partial allies in the Trump administration have quietly pulled off some unprecedented attacks on democracy, such as its partial consolidations of authority to the executive branch and its recent project to prosecute WikiLeaks-and thus, theoretically, any other news organization that publishes undesired material. And while this is cliche among predictions about the creation of authoritarian regimes, I firmly believe things are going to get worse on a dystopian level after the next big terrorist attack inevitably happens during Trump's term.
Meanwhile the pressure that's been building up for the last eight years between the financial tectonic plates stands a good chance of being released this week with the debt ceiling deadline on April 28. Should the increasingly inept Republican Congress and Trump White House fail to reach a decision very soon on America's accounting fraud crisis, the government will shut down on Friday before running out of money entirely by mid-summer, creating a recession that will be snowballed by the explosion of the additional debt bubble in the private sector. This crash will (likely) happen at just the right point that both parties will be exposed for having let the economic framework decay under our feet, at which point progressives will be able to fill the gaping political vacuum.
The Associated Press isn't going to be able to neatly sweep away the oligarchy's worries this time around. Our opening for bringing change is here, and we need to take every advantage of it.