Bernie Sanders not done yet

Kyle Davis

John Zaller is a political science scholar from UCLA, famous for his commentary on political media, political elites and how social cues run conversation. In his influential book, “The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion,” he discusses, to far greater length then this article will, how media elites run conversation.

 Much of this work is still relevant today if we look at contemporary liberal circles and how the conversations themselves have become biased towards one candidate over another. Take, for example, the comparison that CNN and other liberal news sources take on the presidential election. Rarely do we see the hypothetical comparisons between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Yet, very frequently, the conversation of media elites is of the competition between Hillary Clinton and Trump.

 By doing this, media heads have fixed the conversation towards their particular bias. How often do we see a match up between Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz? Listen to the crickets when this is even suggested.

 Mathematically, there is still much ground for Bernie Sanders to win the Democratic nomination. Robert Reich, an economist famous for his work in the federal government under Bill Clinton, has done the simple math. Bernie Sanders, as of you reading this, needs 56.5 percent of the remaining delegates to win the nomination. That’s it.

 For sure, Sanders has an uphill battle in winning by a margin of nearly seven percent, but wasn’t his campaign always an uphill battle? Think back to when he first decided to run and the cries from everyone that voters would even consider him: “A socialist? No thank you!” or my favorite: “He’s too radical.”

 Bernie Sanders started off with the game rigged against him: Clinton had all of the funding, bureaucratic support and the entire political party behind her. A few months later, Bernie Sanders has challenged her with an overwhelming and laudable display of democracy in action.

 It is not over for Bernie Sanders, but it will be difficult. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that he does lose. Even in this case, he will have won in a sense. He has spread awareness for many of the issues that the Clinton campaign would have otherwise ignored. For example, campaign finance reform has become a well-known and debated topic this year. Also, there has been more discussion on how we run our democracy from the “coin flips” in the Iowa caucus to the purpose of superdelegates that have Clinton’s back. Any way you look at it, Bernie has educated the electorate on issues that were before only mentioned as buzz words.

 Finally, I think Bernie Sanders has opened up some well-needed humility to the political process in general. Bernie Sanders said early on that he “hates and detests these 30 second negative attack ads,” and he has kept the political debate relatively intellectual and high-class. Bernie has not mentioned Benghazi, Clinton’s emails or the other time-wasting topics that have mired Fox News for so long.

 So as this campaign season reaches the big states like New York and California, think of John Zaller. Be willing to recognize the role of media elites in pushing the conversation into an area where they feel comfortable. Remember that one of Clinton’s top funders is Time Warner Television, the owners of CNN Politics, ESPN and even Disney. Bernie still has a chance to win, and even if he doesn’t, he would have already won.