I don’t want to be responsible for starting a new conspiracy theory, but have you noticed something strange about the language that newspapers are using when talking about Bernie Sanders’ campaign? Democrats can certainly be concerned that his decades-long socialist leanings might not be acceptable to many Americans. That is a valid and reasonable point for the press to make.
Yet, I saw two stories and neither phrased the potential problem in those terms. A news article in the Wall Street Journal on Feb. 4, 2020, speaking of Bernie Sanders’ popularity read, “That has triggered concerns among centrist Democrats who worry Mr. Trump would use [my emphasis] Mr. Sanders’ political identity to damage the party’s prospects in Midwestern battleground states…” Similarly, a CNN article I read expressed concern that President Trump would “take advantage” of Bernie Sanders’ socialist leanings to turn voters against him.
Maybe I speak a different language than these erudite, university-educated, elite reporters, but in my book, the words “taking advantage” and “using” have mostly negative connotations. I might “take advantage” of someone who leaves the room to get a drink in order to cheat in a game or I might “use” a false piece of gossip to undermine someone’s job opportunity. However, if someone is clear about his views, let’s say openly advocating for open-marriage, and I share that information with a woman set up on a blind date with him, I’m not doing anything underhanded or nefarious.
Senator Sanders’ willingness to share his views openly allows Americans an opportunity to see what policies he is likely to support. Donald Trump has lived up to his campaign promises in a way that many previous presidents have not. Both these men deserve commendation for honesty and consistency. Too many politicians obfuscate, confuse and outright lie.
A Trump/Sanders showdown would indeed give Americans the chance to vote for men advocating sharply divergent policies. Isn’t that the point of an election? No one would be taking advantage of anyone by pointing out that the election pits capitalism against socialism, providing an opportunity for Americans to make a clear choice.
So why did the Wall Street Journal and CNN both couch what President Trump might say in negative terms? Conspiracies suggest people making nefarious plans in clandestine cellars. That type of secrecy isn’t necessary when the mainstream press, educational and entertainment industries share biases that infiltrate everything they do. It is our job to remain alert and recognize when we are being manipulated, even if it doesn’t involve sunglasses or spies.