Ever since Bernie Sanders entered the race earlier this year, I’ve been an ardent supporter of his campaign. As somebody who considers the influence of big money the most important issue in politics, I absolutely loved his message, including his own focus on smaller monetary donations. I agreed with him on most political issues, and admired his consistent political career. So it’s really disconcerting for me when I see the way the media has treated his candidacy. I’ve seed pundit after pundit tell me what little chance he had to win. Sanders, as well as some of those in the Republican field, is a threat to the establishment politics of our country. This kind of threat is exactly what American politics needs, and shouldn’t encounter so much dismissiveness.
I’ve witnessed that disdainful attitude in just about every discussion of Sanders I’ve seen. After all, a “self-described socialist” would never be able to hold the highest political position in America, right? Sanders is doing fairly well for himself in the polls right now, despite being a far-left candidate that these commentators believe would be too alienating to the general populace. Granted, he’s still quite a bit behind Hillary Clinton, but he’s certainly doing a lot better than many pundits thought he would.
On the other side of the aisle, there’s Donald Trump and Ben Carson; one is an obnoxiously idiotic reality TV star and the other a neurosurgeon, both without any prior political experience. Despite being the current frontrunners, they still receive similar condescension from their party.
While they all threaten the political establishment, none of these candidates are actually that comparatively extreme. Carson and Trump have similar positions to the rest of their party, and Sanders holds positions that are arguably less extreme than FDR’s. There’s really no political reason for the attitude so many have towards these candidates. Those in power are afraid of change, and especially the kind of change that threatens the way they operate; this includes, for example, Sanders’ challenge to the relationship between politicians and big money.
Because the narrative that these candidates are “unelectable” pervades the media so much, people can be afraid of voting for candidates that seem so extreme. But they shouldn’t be. A change from the norm is exactly what American politics needs right now, and it’s the kind of shift that our democracy is designed to accommodate.