It’s time to start taking Bernie Sanders seriously

Tuesday night marked the first Democratic Debate on CNN, and in those few hours one fact became very clear: Hillary Clinton is in danger.

When Secretary Clinton announced her candidacy in April, media outlets latched on to her as the clear prime candidate and most likely candidate for the Democratic Party. Even in the face of her email scandals and criticism over the Benghazi incident, it seemed no one could challenge Clinton’s reign as party frontrunner.

At least, not until Bernie Sanders joined the race.

A Senator from Vermont and self-acclaimed democratic socialist, Sanders started his campaign on shaky terms as he refused to set up a Super-PAC, or a “political action committee” which allows corporations and businesses to make contributions to political candidates. Sanders has been a long-time opponent of big businesses and Wall Street corporations, and firmly refused any donations not made by independent voters. The media brushed him aside, opting to report on Clinton’s larger scandals and more public platform.

Feel the Burn! Original image edited from Daily Kos.
Feel the Burn! Original image edited from Daily Kos.

However, while Fox News and CNN have been reporting near constantly on Clinton’s campaign, Bernie Sanders has slowly but surely risen through the ranks of the Democratic Party. By the end of September, his campaign had claimed more than one million independent donations, and recent statistics have shown Sanders tying with or beating out Hillary in public opinion polls. His political stances on getting big business out of government has proven popular with the so-called “99%”, or those of us who are not part of the elite wealthy of our nation, and he has maintained a policy of peace, stating that “war should be the last option”. Many citizens, especially millennials and the younger generations, agree with Sanders’ policies on free higher education and better healthcare, as well as his stance on mandated paid maternity leave and raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Sanders has also spoken adamantly about racial justice and the rapidly spreading movement “Black Lives Matter”, as well as shown vocal support for LGBTQ and gender equality.

During last night’s debate, Sanders proved he is more than capable at handling the media and other candidates’ attacks, and remained firm in his standpoints.

He continued with his policy of refusing to attack other candidates, and even supported Hillary at one point—when asked about her email scandal, Sanders cut in and told debate moderator Anderson Cooper that Americans are “sick and tired of hearing about [Clinton’s] damn emails”, a quote which prompted several rounds of applause from the crowd and even an appreciative handshake from Clinton herself.

Since the end of the debate, CNN has been adamantly posting articles on their webpage and Facebook page insisting Hillary Clinton was the “clear winner”. However, almost every online poll, including CNN’s own public online poll, showed that the American citizens thought Sanders outperformed Clinton in the debate. TIME’s online poll has Bernie Sanders currently polling at 54% to Clinton’s 11%, while CNN’s own online poll (which has since closed) had Sanders at about 82% last night, while Clinton peaked at only about 14%.

Even our own local news station, WSLS 10, had an online poll where Sanders is in the current lead at 70% to Clinton’s 16%.

It’s important to know that Time Warner, CNN’s parent company, is the 8th largest contributor to Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign. So how can their coverage be trusted?

Clearly, Sanders is the winner in public opinion. So the question is: why is the media not taking Sanders seriously?