October 5, 2015
by Johann Galloway
First, Bernie Sanders was ignored.
But the media blackout backfired, ignited rioting on social media sites and piqued the curiosity of a multitude, even the disillusioned millennials – a huge demographic of presumed slackers and sleepy heads too cynical to vote. Convention centers and stadiums replaced cozy venues and rallies resembled rock concerts. Memes of Bernie with captions like ,“They have the media, we have the people,” graffitied Facebook walls and videos, like one with him scolding the media’s enthusiasm in turning presidential elections into a reality TV circus, received millions of views.
Next, a poll sent shockwaves through establishment politics: Bernie overtook the assumed Democratic heir Hillary Clinton in the crucial states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
Begrudgingly, the media acknowledged him but still refused to take him seriously. On Fox News he was. “a fringe candidate.” On other media stations, he was, “the socialist from Vermont.” (Never differentiating his brand of democratic socialism – having a government of the people, by the people, and for the people—from Marxist socialism.)
Outside the circle of Bernie believers, consensus was that he could not compete with the Clinton machine financially, and therefore was a lost cause not worth the time of day. Even Stephen Colbert seemed to pull no punches when Bernie did the Late Show recently.
“You don’t bring a spoon to a knife fight,” Colbert said after asking him how he expected to go all the way to the White House without forming a Super Pac and soliciting campaign contributions from corporations.
Bernie replied, “I don’t support the agenda of corporate America or the billionaire class, I don’t want their money.”
Bernie shocked the political establishment again on Wednesday—the Federal Election Commission’s fundraising deadline for the third quarter—by reaching 1 million individual online campaign contributions faster than any other candidate in history. Sanders’ campaign spokesman, Michael Briggs, said the campaign raised $26 million in the third quarter with $2.07 million spilling in on Wednesday alone and $502,000 donated in the last two and a half hours before the midnight quarterly deadline.
“What it tells us is that Bernie has financial staying power,” Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ campaign manager, said. “We have the financial wherewithal that will allow for a major campaign through Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada and beyond in state-by-state, delegate-by-delegate contests for the Democratic Party nomination.”
Hillary Clinton’s campaign edged Bernie with $28 million in contributions for the quarter, but there are stark contrasts. While Bernie relies on small donations online, the bulk of Hillary’s contributions came from labor intensive and time consuming fundraisers. She personally headlined 66 in the quarter, while Bernie has only attended 7 in person since his campaign began. And at most of Hillary’s fundraisers donors are asked to contribute $2,700, the max allowed in the primaries, drying up those wells. On the other hand, Bernie can go back to his intensely loyal supporters again and again because his average donor contribution is just $24.86.
This year Hillary has raised $75 million, almost twice as much as Bernie. However, the sizable campaign with her armada of staff and expensive consultants is burning through money at a much quicker rate than Bernie’s grassroots campaign, according to figures released Thursday. Clinton has already spent 90% of the $28 million raised in the last three months, leaving her with just $32 million total in the bank, while Bernie has a competitive $25 million cash on hand.
Bernie broke another record at his latest rally Saturday when he packed the 26,000 capacity Boston Convention Center, shooting past Barack Obama’s feat of drawing 10,000 people there eight years ago. Thousands more who wished they’d gotten there earlier filled the overflow space outside. The crowd was deafening, cheering and chanting “Bernie” as he came on stage. Throughout his speech, Bernie railed on the Republican Party and establishment politics, emphasized the power of the people in a democracy and reiterated his political platform. He ended his electrifying speech by saying, “Thank you, and welcome to the political revolution.” Needless to say, the crowd went wild.
With two major debates on the horizon, October will be a stepping stone or stumbling block in the presidential race. The CNBC Republican Debate on the 28th will likely narrow the GOP field, and Bernie will finally have an opportunity to be seen by the “Bernie who” crowd on the 13th, when CNN will sponsor the first Democratic debate. Joe Biden is not expected join Hillary, Bernie and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. He is not preparing for the debate and says he is still unsure whether he and his family are ready for the campaign’s emotional toll.
Editor’s Note: Please forgive the audio quality. Unfortunately major media outlets still have their heads up their asses.