Run, Bernie, run!

Vermont senator Bernie Sanders will announce today he will enter the race for the Democratic nomination for president. This is very welcome news. He would be a far better president than Hillary Clinton. He is someone who is not afraid to refer to himself as a ‘democratic socialist’ (although his socialism is of a very mild sort) and the things he stands for will now be part of the political discussions.

Sanders said he would release “very specific proposals” to raise taxes on wealthy Americans and corporations, as well as offer tuition-free education at all public colleges and universities. He touched on his past opposition to free-trade agreements, his support for heavier regulation of Wall Street and the nation’s banking industry, and his vote against the Keystone XL oil pipeline as a preview of his campaign.

Matt Taibbi welcomes Sanders’ announcement and denounces the tendency of the media to only take seriously those candidates who promise to raise a ton of money and disparage those who reflect the views of a lot of people. (Taibbi also uses the word oligarchy, confirming my view that the word is going mainstream, a welcome development.)

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.

It’s a little-known fact, but we reporters could successfully sell Sanders or Elizabeth Warren or any other populist candidate as a serious contender for the White House if we wanted to. Hell, we told Americans it was okay to vote for George Bush, a man who moves his lips when he reads.

But the lapdog mentality is deeply ingrained and most Beltway scribes prefer to wait for a signal from above before they agree to take anyone not sitting atop a mountain of cash seriously.

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.

But of course right-wing cranks (Bobby Jindal, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina) are given a lot of attention even if they have no chance in hell of winning.


  1. says

    For a democratic party that is bewildered at it’s constituencies apathy for voting…Here’s your solution…give us a choice! Or at least SOMEONE ELSE other than Hillary to have to listen ton ’til November 2016…

    DNC…THIS is how you excite voters…If you were ever actually interested in what we voters think….

  2. Holms says

    I just can’t get past how much of a media circus the US election is. Here we have a leaked announcement in advance of a formal announcement of bid for the presidential election… eighteen goddamn months away!

    This is how to do it right.

  3. says

    This is great, in more ways than one. Elizabeth Warren would have been the ideal candidate, but the fact that she’s not running means the anti-Clinton dollars won’t be split. And when I say anti-Clinton, I’m not just talking about democrat donors. Non-extremist republicans (i.e. traditional conservatives) would be willing to support and donate to Sanders because they can work with him. The cast of clowns on the republican side will produce a weak compromise candidate (weak willed and weak kneed).

    Unfortunately, I fear that corporate money is going to decide this election, and Clinton is the 1%ers dream candidate. Compared to her, Obama could be mistaken for a centrist instead of the rightwinger he is.

  4. brucegee1962 says

    I literally don’t think there’s any downside to this announcement. Yet another advantage: it will make more difficult the task of the host of conservative attack dogs who will be trying to pain Hillary as a raving socialist, when there is an ACTUAL raving socialist standing right next to her. Anything that makes her appear more moderate (as Bernie does) will help her get votes in the general election.

    Also, debates make for better press coverage than speeches.

    Mind you, I’m having trouble mustering much enthusiasm for Hill either. But she’s several orders of magnitude better than anyone on the other side.

  5. Jim B says

    This is a welcomed development. It seems like the Overton Window only gets pulled to the right. It is about time someone pulled on it from the left, and hard. When consensus opinion is that Barak Obama is liberal, the right/left alignment is way out of whack.

    In many regards Nixon was more liberal than Obama. Could you imagine Obama successfully introducing the EPA today if it didn’t already exist? Or him proposing (much less getting his way) of enacting wage and price freezes that Nixon did?

  6. polishsalami says

    The only problem I have is Bernie running as a Democrat. I’m sure he could win plenty of support as an Independent.

  7. Mano Singham says

    The problem with running as an independent is that the election rules in the US are heavily stacked against them. Merely getting on the ballot requires an immense amount of work and money. By running as a Democrat (even though he is not registered as one) he is automatically on all the primary ballots and gets immediate access to debates and such. I think it was a smart move because party labels in the US have little meaning and party platforms are not binding on the nominee who can go in any direction he or she wants.

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