Few could suspect that a progressive from Vermont could shake up the system so much. He attacked his opponents on their records for voting for the Iraq War and changing the broken healthcare system. This should have been political suicide as mainstream media (MSM) quickly dubbed him as too radical as he surged in the polls.
That same MSM apparatus, instead, shifted its focus to talk about an elder centrist statesman who was dubbed far more electable. Pundits and commentary panels shouted it daily, and, before you knew it, the progressive candidate underperformed, leaving the moderate to clinch the Democratic nomination.
While it may seem so, this isn’t about Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). We’re talking about another Vermont politician, who goes by the name Howard Dean. He was once considered too progressive to ever sit in the White House, was effectively smeared over his statements, and ended up losing to the then-Senator John Kerry (D-MA), who was deemed more “electable.”
The rest is history. John Kerry would clinch the nomination, but voters were less than enthused as he marched to November to lose a sitting President in 2004. Indeed, more factors were involved with Kerry’s loss than a lack of enthusiasm, but he only got the nomination in the first place because he was deemed “electable.” The practicality of Kerry’s positions, let alone his campaign, wasn’t a primary factor for MSM or the DNC.
Favorability vs Electability
So much of what happens in modern presidential races revolves around how the media weaponizes the term “electability” to destroy candidates that don’t bend the knee to the center.
Why highlight it now? Bernie Sanders has now bent the knee to Joe Biden, so what’s the point? Because the media will weaponize this word again, of course. It’s only a matter of time before someone else pushes for progressive platforms and electability rears its ugly head. The word has always been an effective weapon used to derail any progressive or leftist movement and discredit their efforts in the eyes of the commoner.
Before the primary season kicked off, Sanders had 72% a favorability rating amongst Democrats, according to a Gallup Poll. The issue of Medicare For All had a 55% approval rating in Florida and a 61% approval rating in Illinois. Even after the first Super Tuesday, exit polling showed overwhelming support for Medicare for All in virtually every state.
It seems people don’t like their health insurance plans, yet Biden defeated Sanders in spite of their preference for Sanders’ positions. How could someone with such a highly-regarded policy end up losing the presidential nomination?
The media and establishment painted Sanders, like other progressives before him, as unelectable with no shot to ever sit in the White House. All you have to do is search the terms ‘Sanders Not Electable’ to see the abundance of MSM articles telling the masses time and time again one thing: Bernie Sanders isn’t electable compared to Trump. He’s too radical, his policies despite being popular would harm him, and that America isn’t ready for a Democratic Socialist.
Protect the Money at All Costs
We’ve talked several times about manufacturing consent here, a case in point is how the media fluffed up former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg during the Iowa Caucus disaster. However, those same tactics can, and do, work well to sway the primary voter when it comes to painting a non-establishment candidate negatively. Bernie Sanders even said it himself.
“There has not been a campaign, I think, that has been having to deal with the kind of venom we’re seeing from some in the corporate media.”
The truth is that the media was scared of a potential Bernie Sanders presidency. More to the point, the owners of those media outlets were set on continuing to get away with paying their fair share of taxes. Bernie would have challenged them.
If you look at the history of progressives, they are similarly painted as unelectable as well. But, no candidate has shaken the boat and came so close to winning the prize of the White House as Bernie Sanders. It was only natural for those who wanted to preserve their own positions of power to amplify the message that Bernie is just another unelectable politician.