"Bernie Sanders" by Nick Solari

It was a big upset for Bernie Sanders. Polls showed him down by twenty points against Hillary Clinton in Michigan. His win, delivered by Michigan voters on Tuesday night was a blow to conventional wisdom.

“I want to thank the people of Michigan who repudiated the polls which had us down 20 to 25 points and repudiated the pundits who said Bernie Sanders wasn’t going anywhere,” Sanders declared in his victory speech.

At a contentious debate in Flint, on the eve of the Michigan vote, Clinton appeared to score points against Sanders by denouncing what she characterized as his vote against President Obama’s auto industry bailout. Sanders’s response seemed a little muddled and vague, attacking the bailout for Wall Street, but not specifically responding to the auto industry charge. (In fact, Sanders supported the auto bailout as stand-alone legislation, and later voted against the giant Troubled Asset Relief bank bailout which contained auto bailout funds.)

In the end, Michigan voters did not buy Clinton’s attack.

Instead, they rejected Clinton, who supported NAFTA when Bill Clinton signed it, and who has only recently become a critic of big trade deals that have helped destroy manufacturing jobs in this country.

The win in Michigan means Sanders will split the state’s delegates with Clinton. But it also means that his message on trade policy and the failure of austerity and trickle-down economics resonated with rust belt voters, including African American voters, who handed him a victory in hard-hit Flint.

“Most I’ve ever seen CNN discuss trade,” Lee Fang of the Intercept commented on Twitter after Sanders and Donald Trump won in Michigan, thanks, in part, to their aggressive criticism of NAFTA-like trade deals. “They do virtually no reporting on trade policy, but will discuss in the context of a political race,” he added.

The dynamics of the 2016 presidential race are forcing a lot of issues that establishment candidates in both parties would rather ignore. Insisting on attention to trade deals that cost American jobs, high-dollar campaign fundraising, Wall Street regulation, and other issues where the two major parties have long agreed to agree, voters continue to make things uncomfortable this year.

For now, Sanders is back in the game. Clinton is still far ahead in numbers of delegates, but those include super delegates who could conceivably change their minds. More than half the states have yet to vote—and in none of them does the winner take all the delegates.

Michigan changes the momentum of the race. There are big states yet to come where the Sanders campaign expects to do well, amassing more delegates in California, New York, and a couple more key Midwestern states, Illinois and Ohio.

And Michigan changes something else: Sanders seemed to finally connect his message on jobs, trade, and a fair economy with the specific concerns of African American working people—something he badly needed to do, and had fumbled in the South, and at the Democratic debate in Milwaukee—where unfair trade policy has devastated the black middle class.

The Democratic primary will go on into the summer. And the “political revolution” Sanders declared will not easily fade away.

Ruth Conniff is editor-in-chief of The Progressive.



Add new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.


White supremacist posters on campuses play on ignorance and fear within the very institutions that should be our...

Trump's politics are not the problem.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

Public School Shakedown

Progressive Media Project