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.