On NBC’s “Meet the Press” this morning, moderator Chuck Todd said that from his two days on the ground in Iowa, it is clear that “the Bernie Sanders phenomenon is very real.” This is coming from a pundit who once dismissed the Sanders campaign, and by the way, Donald Trump. None of the other networks even mentioned Sanders in their Sunday morning shows.
Todd began his interview with Senator Sanders this way: “I watched you in Clear Lake, I watched you on the stump yesterday. There were so many people the fair stopped. Forget Trump, forget Hillary Clinton you might have had the biggest crowd yesterday.” And Bernie was not even giving free helicopter rides.
Todd asked Sanders how he keeps his campaign from fading five months from now. Sanders answered it this way “We are resonating with people all over the country and in Iowa because we are talking about issues that are life and death issues to the American people.”
He elaborated, “Those issues include the collapse of the middle class, the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality in this country, the fact that we are the only major country on earth that does not guarantee health care for all people, the fact that millions of working class families are finding it impossible to send their kids to college, and the basic fact that people are working longer hours for lower wages and almost all of the wealth is going to the top one percent.”
Sanders then attacked the broken campaign finance system—the same theme Republican front-runner Donald Trump hit on in his interview with Todd the day before. Sanders said that after the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court, billionaires like the Koch Brothers can literally buy politicians and corrupt the American political process and Americans are saying “Enough is enough.”
Todd said he was amazed how many people he spoke to in Iowa had good things to say about both Trump and Sanders at the same time, using things like the campaign money. He asked the Senator what he thought he had in common with the Trump voter. Sanders said the difference is he is not a billionaire. He said his campaign is being financed by over 350,000 people who give on average $31.20 each. This is a stark contrast to other candidates like Jeb Bush whose PAC has raised over $100 million from secret donors, and Cruz, who Sanders pointed out, just received a down payment of $15 million from the Koch Brothers.
The Sanders campaign has been drawing huge crowds everywhere—red states and blue states. He has almost no operatives in those states, no TV ads promoting them, and no local media coverage. Despite the fact the lame stream media refuses to cover these events, they dwarf all political rallies held by every candidate including the two front-runners Hillary Clinton and billionaire Donald Trump.
It is very apparent is that there is a large segment of the American population who are fed up. This crosses party and regional lines. Both Bernie Sanders and Trump are appealing to that huge population segment. Their solutions may be different, but their appeal is the same. They are perceived outsiders who won’t put up with the status quo any longer.
Pundits who dismissed Trump and Sanders initially are trying to save their credibility by saying that the people backing Trump and Sanders are just protest voters, and the closer the election gets, the more pragmatic they will become and they will gravitate to traditional candidates.
The pundits may be as wrong about that as they were about Trump being finished when he said McCain wasn’t a hero and got into a fight with FOX News darling, Megyn Kelly. Trump is still on the stump and Kelly is now on vacation.
Pundits live in a bubble, listening to echoes in the echo chamber. With their large salaries and comfortable life styles, they are often out of tune with common people, especially working class Americans.
Voters threw Democrats out in 1968 to protest to the Vietnam War and the Great Society; they threw Republicans out after Watergate; they threw Democrats out four years later to protest high interest rates, gas prices, and the hostage situation in Iran. They gave Congress to Republicans in 1994, and gave it back to them in 2006 to protest Bush and Cheney’s disastrous war in Iraq. The anger in America may be strong enough to elect Trump or Bernie Sanders. Watch this space.