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America’s Party-Line Corporate Media

Reading the papers and listening to the radio about the Democratic primary race, which is reaching its climax tomorrow in California, New Jersey, Montana, New Mexico and South Dakota, I’m having a powerful sense of deja vu harking back to my years living and working as a journalist in China in the 1990s.

The news reports all feel like the regurgitation of a party line:

“The primary is over. Hillary Clinton has come within a handful of votes of the total she needs to clinch the Democratic Party nomination. She will be over the top with a majority of pledged and unpledged delegates by midday tomorrow when New Jersey voters cast their ballots. It won’t matter what happens in California, whether Sanders wins there or not.”

And there you have it. California, the largest state in the nation, with nine percent of the nation’s population and a demographic that closely mirrors the nation’s could vote to reject the Democratic Party’s “presumptive” nominee on Tuesday, perhaps bringing Bernie Sanders to within less than 200 votes of Hillary Clinton’s total of pledged delegates, but because of the 400 super delegates who said way back before the first primary vote was cast that they would back Clinton — all of them unelected, and many actually lobbyists who have their delegate positions because they bought them — and a hundred more, most of whom were bought by the Clinton campaign, Hillary Clinton according to this party-line corporate media, will still become the party’s nominee for president.

And this is supposed to be a democratic process in a democratic country!

What a sad joke.

Fortunately, millions of Americans aren’t buying it.

Hopefully, California will go the way of Michigan and prove to be a blow-out Sanders win. The latest California poll, just released by the Los Angeles Times, shows Sanders actually ahead of Clinton for the first time, 44 to 43, over Hillary Clinton. That’s a phenomenal achievement, going from a 50% deficit last fall to a lead in the pools the day before the voting. And with a record number of new registrants since Jan. 1, most of them young, and with independents able to vote in California’s Democratic primary (if they ask for a special ballot that allows them to register as Democrats at the polls), it’s possible that the Sanders vote could turn out to be significantly higher than the polling even indicates, given that pollsters typically miss young voters who use cell phones, and also given that Sanders has been doing better and better among minority voters over the course of this long primary season.

At that point, of course, given Clinton’s abysmal performance in national and state by state polling against Donald Trump, who has become the Republican’s presumptive presidential nominee, the Democratic superdelegates who had long ago pledged to back Clinton — the corrupt union leaders who backed her candidacy ignoring the wishes of their rank-and-file, the current and former Democratic elected officials, particularly members of Congress, who feared to buck Clinton because of worries about paying a price in terms of support for their own campaigns, or of loss of influence in Congress, the lobbyists seeking to curry favor with a candidate they had assumed would become the next president, can be expected to start worrying that they are betting on a lame horse who could lose to Trump and the Republicans.

If that happens — and a small trickle of state party leaders who are superdelegates have just started saying they are unhitching themselves from Clinton and are backing Sanders — those votes that the party-line media claim have “clinched the nomination” for Clinton may abandon her, leaving her well shy of a majority with just her pledged delegates.

At that point we have the “contested delegation” in Philadelphia on July 25 that Sanders has been predicting. And then who knows what happens.

Again, I am urging all Sanders supports across the country to make plans now to head for Philadelphia and to join those already in the city and who have already made plans to be here, to make it clear to the Democratic Party hacks that they either nominate Sanders, or they lose in November.

This is not a typical election, where the choice of the Democratic Party is between a Tweedle Dum corporatist candidate and a Tweedle Dee corporatist candidate. This year, it’s between Hillary Clinton, a corrupt, money-grubbing, neoliberal pro-war, pro-Wall Street, pro-Israel candidate who has sucked up as much corporate money as she could grab, and Bernie Sanders, an honest guy with a life-time record of progressive political action, who calls for dialogue and diplomacy not war as a default national policy, an at least arms-length, neutral relationship with Israel and Palestine who has funded his campaign with no corporate money, just small donations from his supporters.

Fully half of Sanders’ backers are saying that they cannot and will not support Hillary Clinton if she wins the nomination — a sentiment which, if correct, would doom her chances of winning in November even if she otherwise had a chance of winning (which is debatable given how widely loathed she is among independent voters).

So contrary to the pathetically obvious party-line reports from the corporate media, Clinton’s nomination, at least until the results come in tomorrow evening from California and the other states holding their primaries tomorrow, Hillary Clinton does not have the Democratic nomination sewn up. And even if she does win California, it’s not over.

We still don’t know what Sanders’ voters, or even Bernie Sanders himself, will do if Clinton does manage to get the nomination in July.

Will Sanders kneel down and humbly endorse a woman he has so effectively exposed as a corporate shill, and more recently as an influence peddler in her role as Secretary of State? It’s possible, I suppose, but increasingly hard to imagine. Significantly, when asked by those same party-line “reporters” of the corporate media to confirm that he will back Clinton, and that he would not accept an offer from Green Party activists (including that party’s presumptive presidential candidate Jill Stein) to run as the Green candidate for president in the general election, Sanders has demurred on several occasions, leaving that possibility open by implication.

How exciting an election season that would be!

As I have written earlier, Sanders running as a Green candidate would be a historic event. Unlike Ralph Nader, who ran as an independent and had to spend most of his time battling just to get his name on state ballots, and who could not get into any general election debates, Sanders as a Green candidate would have already run in 50 states’ primaries and is as recognized a candidate already as Clinton and Trump. Polling ahead of both Clinton and Trump, he would have to be allowed into the televised presidential debates, and his supporters, who have already provided close to $190 million in primary-season donations, could be expected to up the ante in a general election race.

Sanders as a Green could upend the whole election. Running against the two most unpopular major party candidates in US history, he might even win outright. Or as some electoral college experts have noted, he could win big enough to deny any of the three candidates a majority, and if he outpolled Clinton, could create a situation where Clinton’s electoral college delegates (who are free to vote for anyone they choose) could vote for Sanders to avoid having the election go to the Republican-majority House of Representatives.

There’s another reason for Sanders backers to make it to Philadelphia next month: to push for Sanders not to endorse Clinton if the gets the Democratic nomination, but instead to announce his plan to seek the Green Party’s nomination instead at their early August convention.

I’m hoping for one or the other: a California Sanders win and a swing of superdelegates from Clinton to Sanders, giving him the Democratic Party nomination, or a Sanders Green Party campaign against Clinton and Trump. At a minimum, it would be worth it to see the party-line corporate media journalist hacks choking on their words.

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Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

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