Bernie Sanders is losing the primary elections for the presidential candidacy; three states voted last night and they were all won by Joe Biden. As disappointed as many of us are about that, I think it's important to understand why Bernie's progressive agenda will not become a reality for at least the next four years.
source: Wikimedia Commons
Just a few weeks ago, before Super Tuesday and Biden's crushing victory in South Carolina, Sanders was the presumptive Democratic nominee; Biden finished down the ranks in the first two states, finished second in the third, but at a huge distance behind Sanders. On the other hand, Biden had always said that South Carolina would act as his "firewall" because of the huge support he has among black voters; that turned out to be true, and is still something I can't wrap my mind around. Well, actually I can; that's what this post is about. I want us to momentarily forget all the circumstantial causes for the huge reversal of fortunes since South Carolina, set aside the obvious coalescing around Biden by the Democratic party elite, and the negative reporting on Sanders' campaign in the mainstream media, and focus on the deeper problem that's revealed in this completely wacky election.
Let me try to show what I mean by "wacky." To illustrate the point, I'll use the results from Florida's exit-polls; as America is a general reflection of socioeconomic policies in developed countries all around the world, Florida will act as a surrogate for what has happened in all caucuses and primaries this year. Note that the percentages I give here are rounded off and apply to Democratic voters only. In Florida, like in all other states, a large majority of Democrats favor a single payer government run healthcare system over private insurance. A large majority supports the Green New Deal, as well as raising the minimum wage to a living wage, canceling student debts and raising taxes on corporations and the rich; in Florida, as well as in all other states, Sanders has clearly won the ideological battle, but he lost the electability battle. And the most remarkable fact is that Florida is one of the oldest states in America, when these progressive ideas are usually ascribed to younger voters. Indeed, Sanders wins hugely with younger voters, new voters and independents; nation-wide, roughly 70% of voters between age 18 - 44 vote Sanders, and roughly 70% of voters aged 45 and older vote for Biden . The question is why Biden wins overwhelmingly among older voters, when these voters support so much of Bernie's agenda; why did these older voters vote against their own interest?
To begin answering that question, here's another result from the Florida exit polls: 59% of the Democratic voters trust Biden over Sanders to take good care of social security... If you're getting your news from independent online media, you know how upsetting that result is, because you know that Biden has had a long career of trying to freeze and cut social security; he repeatedly made the case that social security has to be cut in times of economical downturn. But he also repeatedly lied about his record, and the mainstream media perpetuate his lies by not showing the numerous clips that exist of Biden advocating for social security cuts. Biden has overnight become the consensus candidate within the closed ranks of the Democratic corporate party leadership, so the corporate backed media is manufacturing that consent in the public square and in the public's mind. Older people watch cable news, younger people watch online independent media. Younger people are, generally speaking, better informed, are not bombarded every hour of every day with the "electability" narrative and the Bernie-smearing, and will vote for the policies that will get them out of the mess my generation has left them in.
I remember an old study that showed how consumers of Fox News were the least informed people in America, and how they still believed Saddam Hussein was directly linked to the 9/11 attacks years after the invasion of Iraq; in 2020 we can extrapolate that to all of the mainstream media, as they are all professional propaganda machines in service of the neoliberal ideology that resulted in Trump and other nationalist populist demagogues winning elections. They are the mouthpieces of the plutocrats that control the narrative by manufacturing the consent of the governed; they are the fake news and are killing democracy. "Doublespeak" is a term derived from two other words used in George Orwell's book Nineteen Eighty-Four; "doublethink" and "newspeak". The word "doubletalk" already existed in Orwell's time, and was also referring to deliberately ambiguous speech. Doubletalk unsurprisingly is most closely associated with political language, the language used to defend the indefensible, the words spoken to mesmerize the audience into believing the unbelievable. Orwell wrote in his essay Politics and the English Language:
"In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible ... Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness ... the great enemy of clear language is insincerity. Where there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, ..."
In the same Wikipedia article, there's an interesting comparison between the use of doublespeak in the mass media and a laboratory experiment on rats:
In the experiment, a sample of rats was first deprived of food, before one group was fed sugar and water and the other group a saccharin solution. Both groups exhibited behavior indicating that their hunger was satisfied, but rats in the second group (which were fed saccharin solution) died of malnutrition. Moran parallels doublespeak's effects on the social masses to the second group of rats upon whom an illusionary effect was created. He also highlights the structural nature of doublespeak, and notes that the mass media and other social institutions employ an active, downward-aimed approach in managing the opinions of society at large:
This experiment suggests certain analogies between the environments created for rats by the scientists and the environments created for us humans by language and the various mass media of communication. Like the saccharine environment, an environment created or infiltrated by doublespeak provides the appearance of nourishment and the promise of survival, but the appearance is illusionary and the promise false.
The democratic voter-base in Florida voted for the candidate who's ideology is diametrically opposed to their own, who wants to return to the policies that got us in this surreal situation in the first place. Watch the video to see just how much the people from Florida, and by extension all over America, were duped and mislead by the manufacture of consent; voting against ones own interest has never before been so clearly visible. It's a rather long video, with most of the time spent on other things, so if you just want the part that directly relates to this post, start at the 36:17 minutes mark.
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