Bernie Sanders Revolution Thriving in Wisconsin, Despite Insults of Supporters


UPDATE: Defying the polls, Bernie Sanders won Wisconsin by double digits over Hillary Clinton.

The latest Emerson College poll now has Bernie Sanders defeating Hillary Clinton by 8 points in Wisconsin after its previous poll, released just two weeks ago, had Clinton leading by 6 points. This remarkable 14 point swing bodes well for Senator Sanders, giving hope to those that have invested in the political revolution that the anti-establishment candidate has called for. Wisconsin voters appear to be flocking to the Bernie Sanders revolution despite being insulted by both Hillary Clinton and top surrogates like Barney Frank, who mischaracterize Sanders’ supporters as not doing “their own research” and having “a lack of information.”

What’s Behind the Wisconsin Surge?

The Wisconsin surge for Sanders is likely the result of Badger State voters doing more of their own research and garnering more information, the opposite of what Clinton and Barney Frank are claiming. Former Secretary of State Clinton started the presidential race with a huge lead, partly based on name recognition, with many voters unaware of Sen. Sanders’ political positions and history. For the most part, polling and electoral results, have shown that Democratic voters like Sanders the more they learn about him.

Wisconsin voters may have found the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s editorial against the former First Lady lack of transparency convincing, when the paper concluded that, “Her horrible track record on transparency raises serious concerns for open government under a Clinton administration.”Wisconsin’s largest newspaper joined Bernie Sanders and The New York Times in calling for Hillary Clinton to release the transcripts from her speeches to Goldman Sachs.  Many Badger State voters likely aren’t too enthusiastic to support a candidate that the Journal Sentinel argues, has a “long record of obfuscation, secrecy and working in the shadows.”

Bernie Sanders’ Motivated Supporters Have Plenty of Information

Matt Taibbi, writing in Rolling Stone, defended the young Democratic voters (the future of the party) that are overwhelmingly supporting Bernie Sanders. Taibbi notes that young voters look at important issues such as “the Iraq invasion, the financial crisis, free trade, mass incarceration, domestic surveillance, police brutality, debt and income inequality, among others” and “are making a carefully reasoned, even reluctant calculation about the limits of the insider politics.” Taibbi goes onto describe Sanders’ young backers:

They’ve seen in the last decades that politicians who promise they can deliver change while also taking the money, mostly just end up taking the money.

And they’re voting for Sanders because his idea of an entirely voter-funded electoral “revolution” that bars corporate money is, no matter what its objective chances of success, the only practical road left to break what they perceive to be an inexorable pattern of corruption.

Young people aren’t dreaming. They’re thinking. And we should listen to them.

While cynicism runs rampant in today’s culture and the idea that gridlock prevents real change is the status quo, the internet provides an opportunity to gather information on how change occurred in the past and what is stifling change today. Voters today can quickly learn about New Deal economic policies, the passage of Medicare and Social Security, health care for all in most industrialized nations and the Civil Rights Movement. It wasn’t that long ago when young people were told that marijuana legalization and marriage equality were both “pie in the sky,” but laws and political support has drastically changed across the nation, thanks to advocates. Progressive change does occur in this nation, often led by young people who are criticized as naive by older generations; young voters don’t seem discouraged by such criticism, as they are doubling down on the political revolution, with their time and money.

#BernieMadeMeWhite, #ToneDownForWhat and #HillaryResearch 

Bernie Sanders’ supporters aren’t only using the internet to learn about the presidential hopefuls, but also to mobilize and counter insulting claims made against them and Senator Sanders. After Sanders swept Washington, Hawaii and Alaska with more than 70% of the vote, #BernieMadeMeWhite trended on social media as the mainstream media erroneously portrayed these states as “overwhelmingly white.”

#ToneDownForWhat trended after Hillary Clinton’s campaign stated that there would only be a debate in New York if Senator Sanders changed his tone. The demand that Bernie Sanders alter his tone struck many as absurd, as this Democratic primary has been very cordial compared to the 2008 primary when Clinton said, “Shame on you Barack Obama,” claiming that Obama was using the “worst kind of tactics” and undermining “core Democratic values,” let alone this year’s GOP primary.

The claims that Sanders voters need to do “their own research” and have a “lack of information” has also backfired on the Clinton campaign as now #HillaryResearch is trending on social media, with voters detailing many issues that are likely to favor Senator Sanders. For instance, Politifact has given three Hillary Clinton misstatements the dreaded “Pants on Fire!” rating: her claim that she is the only candidate attacked by Wall Street; that she landed under sniper fire in Bosnia; and that Barack Obama “threatened to bomb Pakistan.”

Voters doing their own research can easily see that Senator Sanders has never received the “Pants on Fire!” label by Politifact. The voters can also see Sanders’ longtime support of marriage equality and the fact that he wants to end federal marijuana prohibition, issues that are now mainstream issues supported by a majority of Americans, let alone Democratic primary voters.

Senator Sanders has made an amazing surge in Wisconsin and is now favored to win the state after being a large underdog just a week ago. We shall see if Bernie Sanders can match the margin of victory that the Badger State gave Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in 2008, but it is clear that his political revolution has the momentum in Wisconsin. Candidates and their supporters should be very careful before claiming that internet savvy voters don’t “do their own research” and have a “lack of information.”

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis legalization effort. He served as director of both the New Approach Oregon and Vote Yes on 91 PACs, the political action committees responsible for the state's legalization campaign. As director of New Approach Oregon, Anthony continues to work towards effectively implementing the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature as well as city councils and county commissions across the state. Anthony helps cannabis business comply with Oregon's laws and advises advocates across the country. He also serves as content director of both the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference, helping share the vision of moving the cannabis industry forward in a way that maintains the focus on keeping people out of prison and protecting patients. He was a member of the Oregon Health Authority Rules Advisory Committee, assisting the drafting of the administrative rules governing Oregon’s state-licensed medical marijuana facilities. He first co-authored and helped pass successful marijuana law reform measures while a law student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He passed the Oregon Bar in 2005 and practiced criminal defense for two years before transitioning to working full-time in the political advocacy realm. His blogs on Marijuana Politics are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization.