In the face of a well-oiled political machine bent on disseminating false information about him to the media, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders did what he does best: he sniffed and turned to the moral of the story.
As Sanders explains in an interview for this week’s cover story, “that’s what negative campaigning is all about,” he says in response to an attack on him by a Hillary Clinton-affiliated super PAC, Correct the Record.
Surrogates for Hillary Clinton unleashed a barrage of attacks on Bernie Sanders this week, connecting him to the socialist dictatorial president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, in opposition research supplied to a reporter. Sanders told TIME that Vermont was the sixth state to acquire subsidised Venezuelan heating oil under a deal he arranged with the Venezuelan government.
In Sanders’ perspective, it’s “preposterous” to link that to all of Chavez’s views or deeds. This is the kind of politics I’m trying to change, I think it’s quite bad.”
Candidates who don’t play politics like their rivals are likely to provide this response. Sanders abhors the dominant brand, which he describes as “barbed attacks, research supplied to favoured reporters in private emails, well-funded research machines”. Only a small crew at his headquarters in Vermont has the manpower to dig up dirt on his rivals, so he lacks the resources to do so. Sanders doesn’t know how to use this tactic. “Soap opera,” Sanders mocks, dismissively.
His would be a losing position in a conventional election year. There is no such thing as a “normal” year when it comes to politics. As a result of his above-the-belt strategy, Sanders has drawn crowds as large as 28,000 in Oregon and 11,000 in Arizona, reflecting the integrity of the movement he is working to establish. Bernie Sanders’ “political revolution”—a far-left programme that includes universal healthcare, free tuition at public colleges, a $15 minimum salary, and thorough campaign finance reform—doesn’t dwell on personal slights long.
Dozens of thousands of people have asked Bernie Sanders for advice on how to get involved in his campaign, from setting up tables at farmers’ markets to canvassing door-to-door. New Hampshire palliative care doctor Bob Friedlander and Tennessee food truck owner Corbin Trent are just two of the many Bernie Sanders supporters who have given up their jobs to devote themselves to the campaign.
There is a consensus that Sanders’ credentials as a longtime activist and his progressive vision of universal healthcare and a trillion-dollar jobs programme appeal to these voters.
If he fails to break the stranglehold of Hillary Clinton on the African-American vote, most experts believe that Sanders’ cause is doomed to fail.
Bernie Sanders claims that he is engaged in this fight to put Washington’s interests in jeopardy. An issue-based campaign to rally millions of people is at the heart of his vision. The billionaires’ “greed is what we’re against,” he tells TIME. As a result, “and they’re going to fight back hard,” he says. Millions of people must stand up and decide to participate if …