A Dem points out that Sanders is polling about as well in his field as Chris Christie, who’s being taken seriously.
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) April 30, 2015
The man’s playing it really close to his vest — I haven’t even gotten one of his “Bernie Buzz” email newsletters yet. But just in time for International Workers’ Day, Senator Sanders (self-labeled Democratic Socialist, listed as Independent) is officially campaigning in the Democratic primary. From the Washington Post, industry paper for the town whose monopoly industry is national poltics:
… Sanders lifted off his long-shot bid with a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol on Thursday by declaring war on corporate America and billionaire campaign donors. He also landed subtle jabs at Clinton, whose political ties to Wall Street and hawkish worldview have left some liberals yearning for an alternative.
“The major issue is: How do we create an economy that works for all of our people, rather than a small number of billionaires?” Sanders said. Disavowing the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that disrupted the campaign finance system, he added: “We now have a political situation where billionaires are literally able to buy elections and candidates. Let’s not kid ourselves: That is the reality right now.”…
Clinton took to Twitter to write: “I agree with Bernie. Focus must be on helping America’s middle class. GOP would hold them back. I welcome him to the race.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a Clinton supporter, told reporters that she is pleased Sanders is running because “it’s healthy for a party to have an exchange of ideas.” She said more candidates would “enliven the debate, and that will be wholesome.”…
The NYTimes has, among other stories, a list of Sanders’ stand on “the issues” and a forwarding-friendly short outline of “What Bernie Sanders Must Do to Win“. Sen. Sanders will not switch his official affiliation, which Bloomberg Politics reports is unlikely to be a problem in Iowa, but New Hampshire is being sniffy: “We have only two legal parties in New Hampshire,” CNN quoted [NH Secretary of State William] Gardner as saying. “The primary is reserved for those legal parties.” (Oh, and the
nutballs enthusiasts behind Ready for Warren are not quite ready to give up on recruiting her just yet.)
Nate Cohn is wonkishly unenthusiastic, and Slate‘s John Dickerson is grumpy that Sanders is attacking the Republicans instead of Hillary Clinton. (“He does for Clinton what Howard Dean did for John Kerry in 2004.”) But Jim Newell, at Salon, is vehemently pro-Bernie:
… Bernie Sanders is an old leftist crank — we mean that in the best possible way — from Brooklyn. You can tell that he is from Brooklyn if you listen to any word that he says. We will be hearing a lot more about the MILLIONAYUHS AND BILLIONAYUHS over the next year or so, and we’ll be hearing it from someone who didn’t just arrive at his opinions yesterday after commissioning a few focus groups.
Among this field, the 73-year-old Vermont senator is the natural recipient for anti-Clinton votes. Yes, there will be a lot of theater criticism surrounding Sanders’ announcement: He’s too old, he’s too left, he’s too regional. He doesn’t properly comb his hair; he hunches over. But what if Democratic voters like him anyway because they agree with his policies — like single-payer healthcare, financial reform, massive infrastructure investments, and campaign finance reform? A revolutionary notion, sure…
… and the only person happier about Sanders’ candidacy than Christopher Pearson, founder of the Draft Bernie SuperPAC, may be Matt Taibbi:
… 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.
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.”…
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…
Apart from politics, what’s on the agenda for the day? To celebrate the ancient holiday, I think I’ll take my little statue of Pan the Goat-God out to a place of honor in the garden…