First of all, no, it’s not because I think he has a prayer of winning — words which immediately prove that I am not a paid campaign blogger. So don’t even look at me like that. And everyone knows all but one pre-selected candidate on each side are there just for show, for a potemkin primary to distract the plebes from the smoke-filled rooms where the real primaries were decided years ago.
That said, every show of support for someone other than Clinton on our side, or Bush on theirs, is a slap in the face of the Establishment, making the backing of an insurgent an easy choice. And fortunately, our insurgent candidate isn’t a badly-coiffed racist blowhard who decided to insult America’s POW veterans in a fit of pique. (Ok, our guy may also be guilty of being badly-coiffed, but still.)
Say what you will about Bernie, but there is little calculated in his speeches or his interviews. He has no problem taking anti-Establishment positions that would send big donors running for the Hills, so to speak, if they weren’t already there. He sees the problems of our landed aristocracy, our plutocracy, and makes no bones to wanting to fight it.
This is as opposed to Clinton, who doesn’t take a position, who doesn’t utter a single word that hasn’t been carefully scrutinized, focus grouped, triangulated. She does not permit anything but the most softball of interviews, with all questions agreed upon in advance. Hardly any Democrat believes she has a single principle beyond power for herself and for her family, with the only longterm goal beyond that involving setting up Chelsea for her eventual Senate seat and presidential candidacy. (Thus mirroring Jeb’s commitment to his own clan, and their future plans for George P. Bush.) There is not one shred of integrity she would not sell out — she would turn on even longtime ally Planned Parenthood in a second if it would boost her in the general election; and if their current scandal gets any worse, that is a real possibility.
But Bernie is singing from the same hymnal as he always has, from his decades in the wilderness of the Senate, largely relegated to the crazy-uncle role by his own allies. He won’t even back down from his one major heresy — gun rights — when he has every reason to fudge and triangulate on an issue that will be exploited to the full by the Clinton machine.
In addition, like me, he believes more in socialism than in social justice. As Cesar Chavez knew, one of the best ways to help disadvantaged minority populations is to help them financially. I realize that this isn’t as fun and feel-good as tweeting hashtags, but on the other hand, the $15 minimum wage campaign will offer far more real help* to minority and single-mother families than a thousand #BlackLivesMatter rallies. This does not mean social issues like police brutality can be ignored. But it does mean that practical solutions mean far more than loudly declaring to the media just how multi-culti you are, as white college liberals are wont to do.
Principled. Socialist. Honest. Cranky and ill-tempered. How could I not support the guy?
As the informercial guy reminds us: But wait! There’s more!
For conservatives hate him almost as much as Clintonites do! Here is a recent piece at National Review, repeatedly and with relish calling Sanders — and I am not making this up — a “national socialist.” The logic basically goes that Sanders is distrustful of globalism and the various free-trade agreements; therefore, Sanders is racist against our trading partners in China and Latin America; therefore, Sieg Heil! QED. Writer Kevin Williamson, even as he admits that Sanders is the son of Holocaust survivors, finds some random Bernie fan who also likes today’s German (!) welfare state… and, really, what more proof do you need?
If conservatives are comparing Sanders to Hitler already, it shows what a grave threat they regard his politics.
Not his chances, though. We know how it goes. Sanders will have all the luck of both Rand Paul and Rand’s old man. But Williamson rightly recognizes Sanders’ economic populism as a serious threat to conservative and Clintonian (but I repeat myself) ideals of aristocracy and plutocracy; of a tiny, landed, hereditary elite further and forever strengthening its stranglehold on American wealth and culture, unencumbered by estate taxes that might interfere with said hereditary lineage.
In 2017, we’ll have another pro-0.1% asshole with another all-too-familiar last name as president. No question. But someday, perhaps, Sanders’ politics will catch fire. Perhaps people will get sick and tired of the status quo. Perhaps ex-OWS’ers and Tea Partiers and Sanders voters and Paulites will finally realize they have far more in common than any side cares to admit, and throw in together. That is what the donor class fears more than anything else — a populist base able to get over the illusory red vs. blue divide, and unite. How wonderful it would be!
*actually, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) would be more effective in reducing poverty than raising the minimum wage. But since both parties are equally opposed to this, I have to settle for raising the minimum wage as the more realistic option.