Taibbi: Sanders is "the rarest of Washington animals, a completely honest person"
Sometimes, a broken institution
Needs a public burned enough to fight.
Needs a public burned enough to fight.
by Gaius Publius
In an article in Rolling Stone entitled "Give 'Em Hell, Bernie," Matt Taibbi weighs in on the Sanders presidential run. About that run, the bottom line, as far as I'm concerned, includes these three items:
1. Bernie Sanders appears to be serious about challenging both Clinton and the system, which are, in my view, somewhat coextensive.
2. If elected, he'll certainly do what he says he'll do. He won't be one more Mr. "Yes we can, but sorry, No I won't."
3. He may be the "place to park an anti-Establishment vote" that I've been looking for — a Eugene McCarthy for this decade's version of the fed-up, Occupied generation.
Why does the last point matter? Because resentment among both Democratic voters and rank-and-file Tea Party voters is very high. Elizabeth Warren is said to be quite popular among the rank-and-file right. No one in the country wanted bankers bailed out — only the One Percenters, and the professional class that runs the world for them, were in favor of giving bankers money by the bucketful.
Of course, the One Percenters run the country, and that's what's coming to a head in this election. As it needs to — if the One Percenters control the country through 2016, there will be no broad plan to deal with climate change. In my view, if we get to the early 2020s without strong and effective climate action, it will indeed be over. We need that anti-Establishment, anti–Big Money candidate now.
If Sanders proves to be as serious as he seems, he could reveal just how much of the country is ready to say No to the money class that controls their lives. He has to give it a real shot though — run hard; get on the ballot in 50 states; do what Warren, for instance, would have done had she taken this on. But if people in the country take him seriously — and he's on that trajectory now — the country will have, for the first time in a generation, a real choice.
To which I say, good. It's time for a test for both groups, a test of the power of the One Percenters, and a test of us. This is a test for us. Did you want Warren for all the right reasons? Sanders is out front now, on all of her issues. If he proves serious, what will you do about it? (If you want to start doing something about it now, you can contribute here.)
Taibbi Thinks Bernie Sanders Is Serious
Taibbi thinks Sanders is "the real deal," a completely honest person; clearly a man to be trusted to mean what he says. Taibbi opens with a story about how, when Sanders was in the House, Taibbi wrangled an assignment to follow Sanders around for a day to profile a day in his life. He then concludes with this (my emphasis):
Give 'Em Hell, BernieTaibbi goes on to say that the national press "could successfully sell Sanders or Elizabeth Warren or any other populist candidate as a serious contender for the White House if we wanted to." His reason? They successfully sold George W. Bush. It's just a matter, for him, of wanting to.
Bernie Sanders is more serious than you think
... Sanders genuinely, sincerely, does not care about optics. He is the rarest of Washington animals, a completely honest person. If he's motivated by anything other than a desire to use his influence to protect people who can't protect themselves, I've never seen it. Bernie Sanders is the kind of person who goes to bed at night thinking about how to increase the heating-oil aid program for the poor.
This is why his entrance into the 2016 presidential race is a great thing and not a mere footnote to the inevitable coronation of Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee. If the press is smart enough to grasp it, his entrance into the race makes for a profound storyline that could force all of us to ask some very uncomfortable questions.
And what are those questions?
Here's the thing: Sanders is a politician whose power base is derived almost entirely from the people of the state of Vermont, where he is personally known to a surprisingly enormous percentage of voters.
His chief opponents in the race to the White House, meanwhile, derive their power primarily from corporate and financial interests. That doesn't make them bad people or even bad candidates necessarily, but it's a fact that the Beltway-media cognoscenti who decide these things make access to money the primary factor in determining whether or not a presidential aspirant is "viable" or "credible." Here's how the Wall Street Journal put it in their story about Sanders (emphasis mine):
It is unclear how much money Mr. Sanders expects to raise, or what he thinks he needs to run a credible race. Mr. Sanders raised about $7 million for his last re-election in Vermont, a small state. Sums needed to run nationally are far larger.
The Washington/national press has trained all of us to worry about these questions of financing on behalf of candidates even at such an early stage of a race as this.
In this manner we're conditioned to believe that the candidate who has the early assent of a handful of executives on Wall Street and in Hollywood and Silicon Valley is the "serious" politician, while the one who is merely the favorite of large numbers of human beings is an irritating novelty act whose only possible goal could be to cut into the numbers of the real players.
Sanders offers an implicit challenge to the current system of national electoral politics. With rare exceptions, campaign season is a time when the backroom favorites of financial interests are marketed to the population. Weighed down by highly regressive policy intentions, these candidates need huge laboratories of focus groups and image consultants to guide them as they grope around for a few lines they can use to sell themselves to regular working people.
Sanders on the other hand has no constituency among the monied crowd. "Billionaires do not flock to my campaign," he quipped. So what his race is about is the reverse of the usual process: he'll be marketing the interests of regular people to the gatekeeping Washington press, in the hope that they will give his ideas a fair shot. ...
Thus this whole question of "seriousness" – which will dominate coverage of the Sanders campaign – should really be read as a profound indictment of our political system, which is now so openly an oligarchy that any politician who doesn't have the blessing of the bosses is marginalized before he or she steps into the ring.
By Giving Us a Choice, He Gives Us a Chance
I meant what I said above about this being the last clear shot at addressing climate change in a way that addresses the problem instead of simply mitigating damage — or watching the ship sail away. Addressing the climate crisis means ripping the reins of power from the hands of Money. These are exactly the issues Bernie Sanders is addressing, and will address as president.
People don't have to respond to his message (though god help us if they don't). But they can't even choose to respond if the choice isn't on the menu. Sanders puts a choice on the 2016 menu. By giving us a choice, he give us all a chance.
If you want to give him a chance, click here to donate. Thanks!