My Biggest Problem With the Coverage of Bernie Sanders.
What bothers me most about the way the media treats the Senator’s campaign.
Since 2015, we have watched as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders changed the entire political landscape here in the United States. Thanks to his organization efforts and unapologetic, staunch defense of his positions, the Overton window has shifted significantly to the left on a number of issues such as Medicare for All, criminal justice reform, and the tax structure just to name a few. But perhaps the most impressive aspect of Bernie Sanders and his organizing success is the millions of individuals his organizers have reached across the country, and helped motivate to become more politically engaged (myself being one of them).
Regardless of how you feel about Bernie or his policies, there is no denying that the man has started a movement that the left in the United States hasn’t seen since the days of F.D.R. Because of him, healthcare has become the issue at the forefront of the national discourse, and he is unprecedented in modern history of presidential campaigns in terms of his efforts to get to know constituencies and voters all across the country.
But in spite of everything that he has achieved, the media coverage surrounding him has been generally unkind to say the least. Whether it be mocking his demeanor, or outright contempt for the man and his policies, the examples of disdain towards Bernie Sanders coming from a considerable number of people within the corporate media are too numerous to count. Perhaps the most brazen and disturbing instances of this disdain came from the liberal MSNBC, where Mimi Rocah said that even though she could not explain why, “Bernie Sanders makes my skin crawl”. She then went on to say she didn’t view him as a very pro women candidate, without providing evidence to support this (and apparently not knowing that Bernie advocated in support of abortion rights years before Roe v. Wade).
A favorite for the Bernie critics to point out is the fact that he is constantly yelling, always seeming so frustrated and angry. As odd as it may sound, the media’s desire to paint Bernie as this caricature of just another angry old man is probably the most frustrating aspect of the coverage surrounding his campaign.
No, not because it isn’t true on the surface.
Bernie is indeed old, and angry. But the corporate media desire to mock and minimize his frustration only mocks and minimizes the issues that he is frustrated about, and the enormous demographic of voters who that frustration resonates with as well.
While Bernie Sanders might make Mimi Rocah’s skin crawl, what makes MY skin crawl is when CNN’s Chris Cillizza, a man who makes millions of dollars a year, decides to tweet during the ABC debate:
“BERNIE IS YELLING ALL THE TIME”
It might just be a harmless tweet, but perhaps Mr. Cillizza might want to take a step out of his comfort zone and take a moment to think about why Bernie yells.
At a recent town hall, a voter and military vet with stage four Huntington’s disease stood up, and told Bernie Sanders and the surrounding crowd that he was considering ending his own life because he could not afford his medical bills.
That is just one example of one of the stories that Bernie Sanders hears on a near constant basis on the campaign trail. Only one example of how our country’s fundamentally broken system has failed one individual. It was one man’s unfortunate circumstance that Chris Cillizza will never find himself in, but one that hundreds of thousands if not millions are afraid of because of our healthcare system.
Bernie yells because he hears and feels our pain, and he is angry at the preventable realities that millions of people find themselves in, in the richest country on the planet simply because the system has been organized against them. To mock his anger is to mock the stories that have caused that frustration.
In all honesty, it sort of hurts.
As a young woman making less than twelve dollars an hour in one of the most expensive states in the country trying to figure out how to get on my feet, it hurts to feel minimized, worthless, and unheard. Bernie is a product of our reality, the voice of millions of people, and I think his supporters might want his message to be heard and respected even more than he does.
My problem is not exactly with the rhetoric that the media uses, but more the underlying implications of it. People are literally dying preventable deaths because of the way things are done in this country, and it sickens me that people are more concerned with Bernie’s yelling rather than what he’s yelling about.
By all means, critique Bernie Sanders.
Critique his policies, and critique his record. But please at least try to understand and acknowledge what this man means to millions of people. Understand and acknowledge that his frustration is a product of ours. Maybe then, someone like Chris Callizza or Mimi Rocah might see why he has a real shot at becoming the next President of the United States.