The “liberal” top-down class and propaganda war on the progressive populist Bernie Sanders is something to behold. It advances at least four master narratives.
by Paul Street
Part 1 - Red Baiting
The first such narrative boils down to Red baiting. The Atlantic, recently gave space for the right-wing pundit David Frump to call Sanders a “Marxist of the old school of dialectical materialism” for whom “class relations are foundational” and “everything else is epiphenomenon.”
At ”liberal” broadcast media’s central Stop Sanders headquarters MSNBC (hereafter “MSDNC”), veteran political talk-show host Chris Matthews channeled Joe McCarthy before the New Hampshire Democratic Primary in a bizarre tirade linking the “socialist Sanders” to the supposed threat of “executions in Central Park” if “Castro and the Reds” had “won the Cold War.”
Last week, three days before the Nevada Caucus, MSDNC’s Stephanie Ruhle had on an old friend, former Diamond Resorts CEO Stephen Cloobeck, a major Democratic Party funder, to speak from Las Vegas. Asked about one of Ruhle’s favorite topics, the menace of “socialist Bernie Sanders,” Cloobeck called Sanders “an anarchist” who “would love to burn down the United States” ” (When asked if he would support Trump if Sanders is the nominee, Cloobeck growled “anyone but Bernie, anyone but Bernie.”). She later gleamed while one or her many Republican guests, Jeb Bush’s former campaign manager, called for Michael Bloomberg to pour $100 million in negative campaign ads to stop the socialist Sanders.
This is how “left-wing” MSDNC rolls. Last year, advertising executive and MSDNC pundit Donny Deutsch went on the network’s “Morning Joe” show to semi-coherently say the following: “a socialist candidate [Sanders] is more dangerous to this company, country …than Donald Trump. I would vote for Donald Trump, a despicable human being…if we have a socialist…because that will take our country so down… that’s not who we are. And if you love who we are and all the great things that we still have to have binders put on the side. Please step away from the socialism.”
The dangerous Red Bernie storyline is promoted by competing Democratic candidates. During MSDNC’s presidential debate in Las Vegas last week, the mega-billionaire and longtime Republican Michael Bloomberg identified Sanders with “communism” while the billionaire-backed McKinsey Company veteran Pete Buttigieg claimed that the “radical” Sanders “wants to burn down the house.” Elizabeth “Capitalist to My Bones” Warren absurdly said that Sanders wants Democrats to “gambl[e] on a narrow vision that doesn’t address the fears of millions of Americans… who…want real change…[and] on a revolution that won’t bring along a majority of this country.”
After Sanders won Nevada running away, Chris Matthews agonized further on the “socialist” specter and analogized Sanders’ victory to the fall of France to Hitler’s Third Reich in 1940 (forgetting perhaps that that Nazis were fascists, not socialists, though Matthews may not understand the difference.). Equally unhinged was MSDNC host Nicole Wallace, a White House Communications Director during the presidency of George W. Bush and a senior advisor for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. She expressed her wish for billionaire Tom Steyer to spend millions of dollars on stopping the socialist.
Former Chicago Mayor and ongoing corporate Democrat Rahm Emanuel and former Republican New Jersey governor Chris Christie went on former Bill Clinton staffer George Stephanopolous’s “This Week” to lecture Democrats on their need to unite behind a single candidate to attack Sanders’ “socialist agenda” (Christie) “mano a man’ (Emanuel).
Buttigieg told Democrats to “take a sober look” at the radical threat posed by Sanders. He claimed that the Vermont senator “believes in an inflexible, ideological revolution that leaves out most Democrats, not to mention as most Americans.”
These are telling perspectives on Sanders’ call for elementary, urgently needed reforms like Medicare for All, free public college, progressive taxation, the doubling of the nation’s inadequate minimum wage, the re-legalization of union organizing, and big federal green jobs programs.
Neo-McCarthyite class fears – bourgeois panic – lurks behind the insistent “liberal” Democratic calls (constant on MSDNC) for the “moderate” (corporate and neoliberal) Democrats to coalesce around a viable non-/stop-Sanders candidate “before it’s too late” and a dreaded radical “hijacks the nomination” on the model of Trump grasping the Republican nomination (more on the Sanders-Trump analogy below) in 2016.