Shadow-boxing Sanders

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Bernie Sanders threatens the establishment (Image by Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia)

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that the neoliberal establishment residing within the U.S. Democratic Party would not want Bernie Sanders to get the presidential nomination.

It's a simple matter of logistics. Capitalism is tanking, profiteering is harder to achieve, ergo a candidate gunning for health care for all and financial reform, higher taxes and a nationalised electricity grid creates problems for the establishment.

It's not so hard to imagine the Democrats doing whatever they can from behind the scenes so the right person (for them) gets the nomination. It's not hard to imagine any powerful political groups anywhere doing this — such is the corruption bar of the present time.

If you take this view, however, expect to cop the "conspiracy theory" label, an epithet that still carries a lot of shame even though it was first used by the CIA to dissuade people from sticking their nose into the nefarious ways the most powerful empire in history has conducted itself (which is very, very badly, for a very long time).

To be called a conspiracy theorist turns out to be not such a smear at all, really.

When it comes to smearing Sanders and his supporters, centrist liberals take the tack of suggesting their claims of rigging make them no better than Donald Trump. Close your eyes and keep on the status quo, there's nothing to see here.

But you know what they say about even a broken watch being right twice a day?

Bernie Sanders has defied unfavourable or non-existent press coverage to receive the most individual donations of any candidate in history — with an average donation amount of just $US18.53 (AU$27.67). That's some grassroots support. 

It's hard to believe when we all so often feel powerless, but there is nothing more scary to a group of billionaires and their grifters than the grassroots coming together. Once you know the people aren't buying your lies anymore, that they actually can see an alternative to your dystopian bullshit, the end of you being able to profit continually from their misery is quite possibly in sight.

The faulty app from Iowa was called Shadow. It was created by a company whose opaque structure makes it impossible to know who all its funders were — though Pete Buttigieg's campaign donated US$42,500 (AU$63,522) to the company in July for "software rights and subscriptions", whatever that means.

The app's tallying ability was called into question after an Iowa Caucus precinct chair took a screenshot of the numbers he had entered into the app. It then displayed different numbers to those that had been entered, CNN reported.

Of course, there is no evidence that the app was purposefully designed to fail. But if you were the kinds of people willing to use shadowy tactics – entirely hypothetical of course – an app would be the perfect, uncheckable way to do it, wouldn't it? Technology is a great place to hide, and to defer blame. Just ask Robodebt recipients (and then applaud their class action).

The Shadow app will not be used again. However, by the end of the Iowa Caucus, Pete Buttigieg was declared a narrow winner ahead of Sanders. Which wouldn't be worrisome if it wasn't for the aforementioned tallying and donation issues. Then there's the bias. The Intercept has seen communications from a 'person with knowledge of the company’s culture, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal' which showed 'that top officials at the company regularly expressed hostility to Sen. Bernie Sanders’s supporters'. Pete himself attended a "Stop Sanders" campaign back in April. The hostility to Sanders continues from all directions. Why wouldn't people be suspicious?

Buttigieg declared himself the winner of Iowa before he could have possibly known. Then mainstream outlets went with that too (which trickled down here in Australia to the ABC and SBS reporting it so). There goes that narrative writing itself again.

There is a long way to go to the DNC nomination. But perception is a powerful thing and the damage has been done as far as momentum for Sanders goes. The DNC will count on Buttigieg getting the type of liberal voters behind him who will find his youth and sexuality appealingly progressive while being able to countenance his more-of-the-same "progressive neoliberalism". The "Bernie Bro" smears will continue, of course. It will all continue.

And if Bernie does gain the nomination, and then the presidency, it will be a massive win for people power and the overcoming of powerful persuasion and coercion tactics. But the fight will have just begun.

A Sanders presidency may not be able to effect as much change as is needed. The U.S. empire has a lot of tentacles after all. But it could be a little bit of disinfectant, at least.

Then again, maybe the regime is due to crumble. Nothing lasts forever, not even empires.

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