by Jonathan Bergman
Supporters of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders on social media believed CNN deleted a poll showing that Sanders had won the first Democratic presidential debate on Oct. 13. The poll was not actually removed; in fact, it is still available at cnn.com/vote. Some Sanders advocates claim CNN “deleted” the poll because CNN’s parent company, Time Warner, wanted the poll axed because it did not favor Hillary Clinton. Conspiracy theorists like these only serve to damage their own candidate’s credibility.
I’ve been watching the Sanders campaign closely since last spring. He’s made a name for himself, boasting the biggest rallies of any candidate. But if there’s one thing that will keep Bernie from the nomination, it’s those few supporters who are quick to claim conspiracies. Since this summer, these online supporters have blamed the campaign’s struggles on Clinton, rather than on their own inability to garner enough support outside of their white, young, liberal base.
For example, when Black Lives Matter protesters interrupted two speeches by Sanders this summer, some Bernie supporters thought that the protesters were sent by Clinton to defame Sanders. That’s just not true.
These supporters would be better off trying to reach out to minorities rather than alienating key movements like Black Lives Matter, which has actually been critical of Clinton. If supporters spend more time on their message rather than on conspiracy theories, it will be easier for them to garner credibility and support outside of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Sanders needs support from the entire Democratic Party to get the Democratic nomination.
The huge 20,000-plus rallies Bernie attracts are a testament to the strength of his supporters. The Sanders campaign has the finances and numbers to send supporters into minority districts to sell the Sanders message and register votes. It’s plausible that Bernie’s support would increase if the campaign sent the thousands who attend their rallies to cities across the country to gather support. Instead of looking for the next conspiracy to blame on Clinton, every Bernie supporter needs to look for the next opportunity to bring their message to those who aren’t receiving it.