Bernie’s DMR Interview: Ideology As Answer

The Des Moines Register endorsed Hillary Clinton today as the Democratic nominee.

Prior to making this choice, the editorial board interviewed the candidates.

They met with Bernie Sanders on New Years Eve of 2015. Sanders’ voice was phlegmatic and more gravelly than usual, so it’s safe to say he probably had a cold. He was the picture of a senior with hunched shoulders, a thin frame and a shining pate surrounded with a halo of white hair.

A couple of things were clear right away.

First, Bernie talks in the abstract. His speech is cluttered with memes and sound bites and generalizations. When asked a specific question, he answered with ideology.  A minute into the interview, and he has iterated the major talking points of his campaign. There is no revelatory data. It is all stump speech. The DRM editorial board hears this:

  • The political system is corrupt.
  • The economy is rigged.
  • Wages are low.
  • Top 1% have all the wealth.
  • People must stand up to the Billionaires.

We have heard this before, says an editor.  They want Bernie to elaborate.

Elaboration for Bernie is difficult. His familiar rants have no depth. There is no variation, no expansion – the same plaints and cures appear and reappear like a bouy in an ocean.

At one point, Bernie’s volume increases as he excoriates the editors of the Register for not getting it. His campaign isn’t “politics as usual.” No, Bernie’s talking “Revolution.”

Pressed to explain how he will jump the partisan divide in Congress or asked to give details on his single-payer health system, Bernie sails into his Revolution mantra again. His overall strategy is based on the tenet of participation.

We’ll bring change by rallying the American people.

His American Revolution is an old-fashioned call to the masses, akin to the Socialist Presidential candidate Eugene Debs, who traveled cross-country holding mass rallies and demanding an end to the power grip of the new corporate millionaires.

It is crucial to acknowledge that ideology motivates Bernie. He is running a campaign based on the economic theory of socialism, as manifested by his role model, Eugene Debs.

This campaign is about transforming the United States.

What is equally important is that Bernie sees himself not so much as a man wanting to be President as the new Socialist shepherd of the masses. This may be the most telling aspect of his campaign.  This identity is wrapped into his strategy for change.

In Bernie’s vision, he will be the Great White Hope overseeing a paradigm shift. This transformation will be forced into life by the collective demand of thousands of citizens marching on Washington. He has no plan to work with members of Congress or the financial sector or the multinationals. These entities are the “Establishment” and must be dismantled.

For example, when the DMR editor asked how he would approach the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries, this was Bernie’s answer.

We have to look the insurance and pharmaceuticals in the face and say: “Sorry. You got to stop ripping off the people.”

The demand for change is laudable but hardly pragmatic.

It is no wonder that the editors of the Des Moines Register found Bernie Sanders an unfit nominee.

Here’s the video of the entire interview.


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