Appearances to the contrary, Sanders was not a union organizer, but rather a longtime member of the Senate. And if Clinton had more support from the Democratic party, that was due in large part to the relationships she had cultivated over the years, working with others – something Sanders was not particularly good at. Nonetheless, for weeks during the early months of the primary, I listened to 19-year-olds and media pundits alike lavish praise on Bernie Sanders for his bold, revolutionary message, and scorn Hillary for being a part of the establishment.
He was seen as authentic in his progressivism while she was pushed to the left by political expediency – as though a lifetime of fighting for equality and children’s rights meant nothing. He was the champion of the working class (conveniently ignoring that black and white women were members, and that their issues were also working class issues), but her longstanding commitments to universal health care, child care, paid sick leave, racial justice, the repeal of the Hyde amendment, and narrowing the wage gap between working men and women apparently evaporated because she’d accepted well-paid invitations to speak at Goldman Sachs.
Later, the news media even let Sanders get away with describing Planned Parenthood and NARAL as “establishment” when he didn’t get their endorsement. They made little of it when he described abortion as a social issue (as though loss of control over one’s reproductive life has no impact on one’s economic survival). They accepted, without question, his descriptions of himself as an activist for feminist causes, when all he had done was vote the right way in the Senate. They posted pictures of him being arrested at a protest against the University of Chicago’s real estate investments, while making no mention of the work Hillary had done, when she was the same age, investigating racist housing practices with Marian Wright Edelman. Clinton’s emails and her “trust problems” were the only stories about her they were interested in reporting.