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Iowa caucus proves a victory for democracy

By Greta Hallberg, Staff Writer

A few months ago, I wrote about how the Democratic nomination practically fell in the lap of Hillary Clinton, a former secretary of state, senator and first lady. The ticket to the presidential race, it seemed, had been handed to her with no questions asked.

I'd like to rescind my previous piece.

Not because I don't think Hillary will actually end up with the nomination. In all reality, the name next to the D on the ticket will likely be hers.

But Bernie Sanders has given her a run for her money.

A few months ago, he was a quirky Independent senator from Vermont. He identified as a socialist, a label he still touts proudly.

Last May, Sanders officially announced his intent to run for the highest democratic office in the land. His campaign, like many others in the initial stages of the race, was not taken seriously.

Since then, his momentum has been building slowly. His campaign platform is the idea that he's leading a political revolution, championing progressive ideals and running a race that counters the role money plays in politics.

He targets small money donors instead of the Super PACs that funnel money into nearly every other contender, Republican or Democrat.

The Iowa caucuses on Monday night showed us just how serious a threat Sanders poses to Hillary Clinton.

Sanders took 49.6 percent of the votes. Clinton came in with 49.9 percent, an extremely close race that was almost too close to call. She'll take two more delegates to the Democratic National Convention in July.

In all likelihood, she will still clinch the nomination. She's the establishment candidate, favored by other leaders in the party and earning endorsements from reputable media, including the New York Times.

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However, her win in the caucus and favorable coverage from the media should be taken with a grain of salt. Many of the media companies, supposed unbiased presenters of information, have contributed significant sums of money to her campaign.

For example, the Walt Disney Company is the second biggest donor to her presidential campaign. ABC News is a subsidiary of Disney - could the political leanings of the company influence the objectivity of the reporting?

While this might make Hillary Clinton appear favorably, Bernie Sanders and the pool of Republican competitors face an inherent disadvantage in the subtle media portrayals that influence voters.

Could this be the reason for the slight victory of Clinton over Sanders, even though many groups deemed it too close to call?

I doubt it. It's a harsh accusation and my inner idealist wants to believe that our democracy, including the ever-important fourth estate, is better than that.

A few days ago, a Trump v. Clinton race seemed certain. Now? Not so much. Upsets in the results of the Iowa caucus question the validity of polling numbers and the media organizations that collect them.

Americans may not trust Washington, as the popularity of Trump, Cruz and Sanders suggests, but we still have faith in this system. That faith gives me hope for what was previously a bleak political future.

If anything, Monday was a win for the American democratic process. It's up to primary voters to determine a winner on each side of the aisle, not a game played by a few party and media elites.

That's the beauty of this country and what allows a little known third-party candidate to pose a serious threat to a political machine.

Democracy prevails.