Like a majority of Roosevelt students, I support Bernie Sanders in the upcoming presidential election. I support his liberal policies on education reform, wealth redistribution, and his stance on social issues and climate change. Yet despite all of this, I must accept what many of his other supporters cannot: that Sanders did not win the Democratic debate. Not because of an inherent media bias, lack of time to speak, or any other excuse. He was simply out-performed.
Sanders had a strong debate; he stood firm on issues he had discussed before and stayed true to his base. However, this was not enough to put him ahead of Clinton, who managed to completely re-energize her campaign image and appeal to millions of new voters. She appeared charismatic and relatable, something she has struggled with in the past. Bernie stuck to his values and brought nothing wildly new to the debates. Some voters who were hearing his policies and ideas for the first time may have been won over, but a majority will be more drawn to Hilary’s newfound charisma and more moderate policies.
Sanders also failed when it came to defending himself from attacks from fellow candidates. Hillary Clinton directly went after his record on gun control, arguably his weakest position. His weak and only somewhat factual response to her accusations was the low point of the debate, especially with guns on many voters’ minds after recent shootings at American colleges. Sanders also choose not to retaliate against Clinton as strongly as he could’ve. I respect him greatly for not succumbing to cheap shots at fellow candidates and instead focusing on greater issues (especially during his famous moment about Hillary’s emails), but the truth is this made him come off as weak. Sanders certainly had lots to work with from Clinton’s spotty personal and political record.
Immediately after the debate, a poll went up on CNN’s Facebook page. The poll showed 80% of viewers favoring Sanders as the winner of the debate. Several hours later, a rumor began to spread that the poll had been deleted by CNN, possibly in an attempt to make it appear as if Hillary had won. This story was picked up by news network NowThis, who published a video blaming CNN for deleting the poll, claiming it was because CNN is owned by Time Warner Cable, one of Hilary’s major donors. While it is very likely that CNN is biased in Hilary’s favor, accusing them of deleting their own polls and trying to cover up the truth is ridiculous. The poll was never deleted, it can still be found on their Facebook page. The poll itself was also flawed to begin with. Members of online pro-Sanders forms had organized themselves and raided the polls using multiple accounts, making the results wildly inaccurate in the first place. A majority of polls from other news sources listed Hilary was winning the debate.
The debate itself was quite fair and unbiased (other candidates aside). Sanders and Clinton were dealt equal numbers of hard-hitting questions and given equal amounts of screen time. Bernie actually got the most camera time of all of the candidates. He also was given a very lengthy interview by CNN after the debate.
Despite all of these problems, I still believe Sanders has the potential to become president. However, in order to do this, there is still much to be done. As his supporters, we need to help him in as many ways as we can; raiding online polls to fix results is not one of those ways, nor is reporting false information. We must do our best to support him but also be able to admit that sometimes even he falls short.
Featured Picture: Bernie may’ve won our hearts, but Nate Sanford isn’t convinced he won the debate. Picture by Clara Raftery