[Marxism] How Bernie Sanders Dominated in Nevada

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Feb 23 09:30:31 MST 2020


(A remarkably fair report.)

NY Times, Feb. 23, 2020
How Bernie Sanders Dominated in Nevada
By Jennifer Medina and Astead W. Herndon

LAS VEGAS — They showed up to Desert Pines High School in Tío Bernie 
T-shirts to caucus on Saturday morning, motivated by the idea of free 
college tuition, “Medicare for all” and the man making those promises: a 
78-year-old white senator from Vermont. To dozens of mostly 
working-class Latinos, Bernie Sanders seemed like one of their own, a 
child of immigrants who understands what it means to be seen as a 
perpetual outsider.

For at least one day, in one state, the long-promised political 
revolution of Mr. Sanders came to vivid life, a multiracial coalition of 
immigrants, college students, Latina mothers, younger black voters, 
white liberals and even some moderates who embraced his idea of radical 
change and lifted him to victory in the Nevada caucuses on Saturday.

By harnessing such a broad cross-section of voters, Mr. Sanders offered 
a preview of the path that he hopes to take to the Democratic 
presidential nomination: uniting an array of voting blocs in racially 
diverse states in the West and the South and in economically strapped 
parts of the Midwest and the Southwest, all behind the message of social 
and economic justice that he has preached for years.

His advisers argue that he has a singular ability to energize voters who 
have felt secondary in the Democratic Party, like Latinos and younger 
people, and that Nevada proved as much — and could set the stage for 
strong performances in the Super Tuesday contests on March 3. The 
Sanders campaign is looking in particular to the delegate-rich states of 
California and Texas, whose diverse Democratic electorates include a 
high percentage of voters from immigrant backgrounds.

Mr. Sanders’s chances also depend in part on the field of moderate 
candidates remaining crowded and divided, which is not a guarantee, 
especially if voters seeking an alternative to the right of Mr. Sanders 
align behind one candidate. To earn enough delegates to be the 
Democratic nominee, Mr. Sanders will also have to win big in other large 
states, including California and Texas, where his coalition remains 
untested. And his brand of democratic socialism could prove to be a hard 
sell, including among Latinos elsewhere in the country.

Mr. Sanders delivered his victory speech Saturday evening not in Nevada, 
but in Texas, one of the diverse powerhouses on the Super Tuesday calendar.

“They think they are going to win this election by dividing our people 
up based on the color of their skin or where they were born or their 
religion or their sexual orientation,” he said in San Antonio, speaking 
of President Trump and his allies. “We are going to win because we are 
doing exactly the opposite, we’re bringing our people together.”

In the entrance polls on Saturday, Mr. Sanders led the field across many 
demographic groups: men and women, whites and Latinos, union and 
nonunion households, and across education levels.

The breadth of his appeal amounts to a warning shot at those in the 
moderate Democratic establishment he often rails against, many of whom 
have staked their hopes for a “Stop Sanders” effort on the idea that he 
has a political ceiling within the party and could not grow his base of 
supporters.

Instead, as the primary shifted to Nevada from the racially homogeneous 
electorates of Iowa and New Hampshire, it was Mr. Sanders who grew more 
formidable, while other candidates have struggled.

Strong showings in the first two states have not significantly helped 
former Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar break through with 
nonwhite voters. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has called 
himself the one candidate who can build a diverse coalition, but he 
finished  in second place in Nevada, the most diverse nominating contest 
so far.

Only Mr. Sanders, with his uncompromising message that working-class 
Americans affected by injustice can unite across ethnic identity, has 
shown traction in both predominantly white Iowa and New Hampshire and 
the more black and brown Nevada.

“He’s been saying the same thing for 40 years — I trust him,” said 
Cristhian Ramirez, a 31-year-old technology support specialist who began 
volunteering for the Sanders campaign in November. Mr. Ramirez brought 
several friends with him Saturday and scoffed at the idea that Mr. 
Sanders would face challenges in the general election. Like many 
supporters, Mr. Ramirez was first drawn to Mr. Sanders during the 
senator’s 2016 presidential bid. “Why should we vote for a moderate? We 
already tried that last time and we lost.”

The strong showing in the first-in-the-West caucus state seemed to be a 
payoff for Mr. Sanders’s unique political philosophy and his campaign 
team’s electoral strategy, which bet big on grass-roots outreach to 
Latinos and immigrant populations. It’s a model the campaign is looking 
to take across the country, working to reach people across racial and 
ethnic groups who have traditionally been less likely to vote.

While ideologically liberal voters and young people powered Mr. Sanders 
toward popular vote victories in Iowa and New Hampshire, Nevada showed 
the candidate’s brand of authenticity could have cross-cultural appeal, 
even as the campaign sparred over “Medicare for all” with the culinary 
workers’ union, the state’s largest union and one of the most powerful 
organizations in Nevada Democratic politics.

Activists and leaders who have endorsed Mr. Sanders, particularly people 
who work with immigrant populations, argue that a focus on “Bernie Bros” 
— a caricature of his supporters as predominantly white and male — 
misses the scope of the campaign’s outreach to historically marginalized 
groups.

They praised Mr. Sanders for articulating a global frame of injustice 
that has led him to uncharted places among the Democratic field: He was 
the first to support a moratorium on deportations, has consistently 
spoken of the plight of the Palestinian people during debates, and has 
talked about his own family’s immigrant experience as a way to connect 
with voters, something he rarely did during his 2016 run.

No demographic is a monolith, of course, and Mr. Sanders’s support comes 
with fissures along fault lines of age and educational attainment. But, 
if Nevada is any measure, he is well positioned to galvanize a 
cross-section of Latino voters in a way that earlier candidates have 
done with black voters in the Democratic Party, amassing an advantage 
that could help create a path to the nomination.

“If you have focused intention and ongoing support for Latinos and other 
voters of color you can win,” said Sonja Diaz, the executive director of 
the Latino Policy & Politics Initiative at the University of California, 
Los Angeles. “They did not take the Latino vote for granted.”

When early voting began last week, the Sanders campaign sent a neon 
truck blasting local Spanish radio out onto the Las Vegas streets, 
urging people to show up at dozens of early caucus sites. They attracted 
hundreds of people to a soccer tournament, then offered rides to caucus 
sites to anyone who showed up.

After months of knocking on doors in largely Latino neighborhoods in Las 
Vegas, on Saturday morning, the Sanders campaign said it sent text 
messages and phone calls to every Latino registered as a Democrat or 
independent in the state.

For months, the Sanders campaign has boasted that it was the first to 
organize and advertise in largely Latino neighborhoods, not just in Las 
Vegas, but in Des Moines and east Los Angeles. Many people who showed up 
at the caucuses wearing Sanders buttons and stickers said his campaign 
was the only one they ever heard from. Latino political activists — 
including those backing other candidates — routinely applaud the Sanders 
campaign for doing the kind of expensive, labor intensive outreach they 
have been trying to convince other candidates to do for years.

Former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who has virtually unlimited 
resources, is also investing in Latino outreach and competing 
aggressively in Super Tuesday states, which could cut into support for 
Mr. Sanders. He has already spent more than $10 million on 
Spanish-language advertising.

Mr. Sanders’s appeal seems particularly strong in the West, where his 
ability to harness not just Latinos, but also liberal black and 
Asian-American voters could portend a strong showing in California, 
which will award more delegates than the four early voting states combined.

The Sanders team has long said that California, where early voting is 
already underway, is a cornerstone of its campaign. It has invested 
roughly $6.5 million in advertising there so far, including more than $1 
million for Spanish language advertising. A poll from the Public Policy 
Institute of California released last week showed Mr. Sanders with 30 
percent of the vote, and Mr. Biden in second, trailing by nearly 20 
percentage points.

The support for Mr. Sanders in Nevada was particularly notable given the 
intense fight with the Culinary Union, which represents 60,000 
housekeepers, bartenders, cooks and others who work in casinos here. 
Leadership for the union, whose membership is more than 50 percent 
Latino, declined to back any one candidate, but spent the weeks leading 
up to the caucus criticizing Mr. Sanders’s “Medicare for all” plan, 
because it would effectively eliminate the union’s prized private health 
insurance.

But in interviews in recent days, many rank-and-file union members said 
they supported Mr. Sanders precisely because of his health care 
proposal, explaining that they wanted their friends and relatives to 
have the same kind of access to care that they have.

On Saturday, Mr. Sanders won at five of the seven caucus sites on the 
Strip, losing one to Mr. Biden and tying with him at another — a clear 
sign that the messages from union leadership had largely been ignored.

Ana Maria Archila, co-executive director of Center for Popular 
Democracy, a national collective of progressive groups, said she heard 
all day about people voting for the first time. She also said that she 
expected states like California and Texas could turn out even better.

At a recent event in Las Vegas geared toward Latino voters, Ms. Archila 
said she asked the audience to “close your eyes and imagine a country 
where we are not a target,” citing Mr. Sanders’s support for a 
moratorium on deportations.

“People started to cry,” she said. “We have never known what it feels 
like to be in this country and not be under threat.”

Jennifer Medina reported from Las Vegas and Astead W. Herndon from 
Charleston, S.C. Nick Corasaniti contributed reporting from Minneapolis.




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