Bernie Wins Michigan: Establishment, Beware the Ides of March

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a campaign rally, Monday, March 7, 2016, in Dear
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a campaign rally, Monday, March 7, 2016, in Dearborn, Mich. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Bernie Sanders' victory in the Michigan primary is incredibly important for a number of reasons. Foremost, this is the first real upset of this election season. Every single, and I mean every single opinion poll prior to the Michigan Primary showed Hillary Clinton in ascendancy. Most polls showed her ahead by 20 to 27 points. There was little doubt in the minds of political pundits that Hillary had Michigan in the bag and that on March 8, 2016 she was going to pull decisively ahead of Bernie Sanders by winning both Michigan and Mississippi easily.

Upsets in politics are a big deal. The candidate at the receiving end of the upset loses any aura of invincibility that existed. The candidate inflicting the upset gains much wind behind the sails. Undecided voters are swayed. Many leaning towards the favorite can start questioning their choice and giving the other candidate a second look.

Another outcome of this unexpected defeat for Clinton is that the psychological advantage of the existing leads in states that are yet to vote is significantly neutralized. I consider this shift in perceptions a very important aspect of this contest for the following reason: thus far the media has heavily favored Clinton when it comes to prime time coverage as well as the number of pundits opining that she is the favorite. It would not be unfair to say that there has been a clear bias against Bernie Sanders. It is these very opinion polls and self-appointed political "experts" that can shape public perception and heavily influence the outcome of elections. If the Michigan result undermines this "expert" opinion it could significantly affect the outcome of future primaries.

Next, the trend of minority voters heavily favoring Hillary Clinton has been strongly challenged in Michigan. In Dearborn, Michigan -- the city with the largest Arab American population in the nation -- voters favored Sanders over Hillary 64-36. Exit poll analyses show that between 30-35 percent of African American voters voted for Bernie Sanders. This, while still a much lower percentage than those voting for Hillary, is much higher than has been the case for this particular demographic in prior caucuses where Hillary has received between 75-90 percent of the African American vote. Part of the reason for this may be the Chicago Tribune confirming recently that the much circulated picture from their archives of a man being arrested at a Civil rights protest in 1963 was indeed of a 21 year old Bernie Sanders. This photograph was a powerful reminder of the passion Bernie Sanders has always displayed for racial justice.

Lastly, a profound symbolism here is that the issue of auto industry bailouts was a central one both in the candidates campaigns in Michigan as well as the Democratic debate in Flint last Monday. Michigan's economy has been inextricably linked with the automobile industry and it has suffered some of the largest layoffs in the history of the nation at the hands of the automobile giants. These have left deep emotional scars and a strong sense of betrayal. The people of Michigan appear to have given their verdict; they reject the brand of politics that panders to Wall Street and offers perpetual salvation to mega-corporations that put profits before people and still end up failing. They reject the oligarchy that American politics has become.

The brilliant Neil Postman wrote this in 1985: "In America, everyone is entitled to an opinion, and it is certainly useful to have a few when a pollster shows up. But these are opinions of a quite different roder from eighteenth- or nineteenth-century opinions. It is probably more accurate to call them emotions rather than opinions, which would account for the fact that they change from week to week, as the pollsters tell us. What is happening here is that television is altering the meaning of 'being informed' by creating a species of information that might properly be called disinformation."

At long last, the people of America are calling mainstream media's bluff.

March 15 is the real Super Tuesday, with the most delegates at stake for a single day of the Democratic primary process. Like Julius Caesar the corrupt oligarchic establishment that has hoodwinked the nation would do well to "beware the Ides of March."

CORRECTION: This post previously and incorrectly stated "Hillary unequivocally supports the bailouts, Sanders categorically opposed them." Sanders supported the auto industry bailout, but later voted against releasing the second half of the $700 million bank bailout package which was coupled with additional funding for the auto industry.