Despite his loss to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, and five months after Donald J. Trump’s electoral college victory over Clinton, Vermont’s independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders is more popular than any Democrat. In fact, most polls suggest the Vermont socialist has an approval rating of sixty-one percent with a bullet, as Billboard would say, and is the most popular politician in America. In fact, Sanders’ ratings have beaten Trump in every poll that has measured their relative public approval. Yet U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi says former president Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, both of whom for the most part have disappeared from the political landscape, are leaders of the Democratic Party.
Where is Sanders? The 75-year-old former mayor of Burlington, VT and that state’s senator since 2007, has organized health care rallies in more than one hundred cities across the country. Sanders has been advocating for immigrants’ rights and participated in protests against Trump’s immigration policy outside U.S. Customs and Border Protection offices. Sanders has spoken out against the Security and Exchange Commission challenging those who perpetuate the wage gap. He has worked to impede Trump’s policies. Yet he is ignored by national news outlets and held at arm’s length by Democrats.
Why can’t Sanders get news coverage? For the same reason he couldn’t get elected: he isn’t a traditional politician, he doesn’t play dirty, or sensationalize.
President Donald Trump also is not a traditional politician, but he was elected because of this flawed system, not despite it. In Trump’s case, getting the most news coverage kept him in voters’ minds, while the media ignored Sanders. Like Trump, Bernie Sanders doesn’t fit the mold of a U.S. politician. But instead of a conservative business tycoon and reality TV personality, Sanders is the “every man” genuinely fighting for our human rights. He is addressing the majority of Americans who struggle with low wages, citizenship status, and accessible health care. The power of the people is greater than the people in power, but the people in power are louder and richer, giving us the stark media absence of Bernie Sanders and the continuation of the party apparatus’ marketing of Clinton, possibly intent on setting up a rematch in 2020.
Leada Gore, “Donald Trump’s Latest Approval Ratings: President’s Numbers Hit New Low at Record Pace,” Alabama Media Group, March 30, 2017, http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2017/03/donald_trumps_approval_ratings.html
Les Leopold, “Why Bernie Is the Most Popular Politician in America,” AlterNet, March 19, 2017, http://www.alternet.org/economy/why-bernie-most-popular-politician-america
Charlie May, “Bernie Sanders Has Become the Most Popular Politician in America – with No Help from the Inside,” Salon, March 23, 2017, http://www.salon.com/2017/03/23/bernie-sanders-has-become-the-most-popular-politician-in-america-with-no-help-from-the-inside/
Ryan Whitacker, “2016 Presidential Media Blackouts: Not Just Conspiracy,” DecisionData News, January 12, 2017, http://decisiondata.org/news/political-media-blackouts-president-2016/
Student Researcher: Caroline Griffin (University of Vermont)
Faculty Evaluator: Rob Williams (University of Vermont)